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Woodland Hills boys basketball hopes to turn corner after enduring winless season

| Monday, Dec. 1, 2014, 11:21 p.m.
Woodland Hills guard Amante Britt (3) is defended by Serra's Nate Andrews during a scrimmage Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, at Serra Catholic.
Tony Pinneri | Trib Total Media
Woodland Hills guard Amante Britt (3) is defended by Serra's Nate Andrews during a scrimmage Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, at Serra Catholic.
Woodland Hills' Avram Abramovitz saves the ball from going out of bounds during a scrimmage against Serra Catholic on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2014, at Serra Catholic.
Tony Pinneri | Trib Total Media
Woodland Hills' Avram Abramovitz saves the ball from going out of bounds during a scrimmage against Serra Catholic on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 2014, at Serra Catholic.
Woodland Hills' Deontae Robertson drives to the basket in a scrimmage against Serra Catholic on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, at Serra Catholic.
Tony Pinneri | Trib Total Media
Woodland Hills' Deontae Robertson drives to the basket in a scrimmage against Serra Catholic on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, at Serra Catholic.
Woodland Hills' Jo-el Shaw makes a move to the basket during a scrimmage against Serra Catholic on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, at Serra Catholic.
Tony Pinneri | Trib Total Media
Woodland Hills' Jo-el Shaw makes a move to the basket during a scrimmage against Serra Catholic on Tuesday, Nov. 25, 2014, at Serra Catholic.
Woodland Hills' core this season is made up of, from left, Avram  Abramovitz (44), Amante Britt (3), Jo-el Shaw (54) and and Deontae Robertson (45).
Tony Pinneri | For Trib Total Media
Woodland Hills' core this season is made up of, from left, Avram Abramovitz (44), Amante Britt (3), Jo-el Shaw (54) and and Deontae Robertson (45).

Odell Miller knew last season was going to be difficult for the Woodland Hills boys basketball team.

He was right. The Wolverines went on to go 0-21 and 0-14 in Section 2-AAAA last season. But as the 2014-15 season is set to begin this weekend, he said he believes his young team is primed to turn the corner.

“I'm a lot more optimistic than I was last year,” he said. “I pretty much knew where we were at last year…this year I feel a whole lot more optimistic about going out there and competing.”

The young Wolverines will be led by the trio of junior small forward Jo-El Shaw (6 ppg), sophomore guard Deontae Robertston (9 ppg) and sophomore forward Avram Abramovitz (10.5 ppg). That group was forced to learn on the job last season.

“That's definitely going to help them,” Miller said of his players' having to learn through game action. “This is Quad A, I had those ninth-- graders playing out there all year long and they took quite a beating last year, physically as well as by the score. I think it's going to pay off for them this year.”

Sophomore Tyrese Robinson will start at center for the Wolverines, while freshman Amante Britt will step in to start at point guard.

“He's going to be running our offense for us, and I think he'll do a good job as a freshman,” Miller said of Britt. “He's pretty mature for a young kid.”

As Woodland Hills' top returning scorer from last season, Abramovitz is a force in the paint, despite standing at just 6-foot-1.

He's like a 6-foot-1 kid in a man's body that can jump out of the gym…although he's only 6-foot-1, he's a pretty explosive kid,” Miller said.

Despite his team being outscored by an average of almost 30 points per game last year, Miller is optimistic that those struggles are just another learning tool for the Wolverines.

“The biggest thing with the youth movement now is I have a lot of young kids right now that are like sponges,” Miller said. “They're working hard, they're trying to learn.

“When you take over a program, sometimes you have to strip it down and build it back up to be successful,” he said.

While most teams that just endured back-to-back winless section campaigns might have modest goals, the Wolverines believe their improving roster can challenge for a spot in the postseason.

“This year, I'm hoping to be competitive,” Miller said. “Our goal is to try to compete and try to make one of those playoff spots.”

Alex Oltmanns is a freelance writer.

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