Fresh off a 9-17 season in his first year at the helm of the Leigh High boys basketball program, not even head coach Patrick Judge saw what was ahead next for his team during year two.
Twenty four wins later, the proud head coach may have not expected all the success, but he certainly enjoyed every last bit of it.
Led by the three-headed scoring group of senior wing Sohn Nijor, senior southpaw Deven Patterson and junior sniper Trevor Peterson, Leigh rattled off a 24-5 record overall, including a 12-2 mark in Mt. Hamilton League play.
The stellar run earned the Longhorns a share of the league title with Piedmont Hills High and a No. 3 seed in the Central Coast Section Division II Boys Basketball Playoffs.
It also gave the Longhorns cast a long list of accolades when the postseason awards were announced by the Mt. Hamilton League last week.
Judge was named Coach of the Year in his second season at Leigh. Nijor earned co-Most Valuable Player honors and Patterson and Peterson both were named to the All-League First Team.
“Honestly, it was unbelievable,” Judge said about the wild ride that took his group of Longhorns to the brink of a berth in the CCS Championship Game. “To have Sohn (Nijor) to be named Co-MVP of the league and for Deven (Patterson) to be the first guy voted in to the all-league team is pretty special.”
The players were honored and so was their head coach.
“I had no idea it was coming,” Judge said about the Coach of the Year award. “It’s another nice accolade to win as well. I told my A.D. to give me two years. I told him that it takes time to build something but that we would improve in the second year. Obviously, I didn’t expect to go 24-5, but it was fun to be in that position.”
Leigh defeated Mountain View High in the CCS quarters before falling to perennial hoops power St. Francis High-Mountain View in the semifinals.
St. Francis defeated Leigh 53-46, holding Patterson and Nijor to nine points apiece in the loss.
“They probably weren’t the better basketball team, but they were the more athletic and physical team that night,” Judge said. “We’re going to use that game as a motivator for our guys. This summer is going to be very important. Our guys need to work hard in the weight room to get stronger and learn from playing in such a big game.”
With Nijor and Patterson now lost to graduation, the Longhorns will have a new identity in 2011-12.
Freshman Kyle Morrison and Connor Peterson will both be one year older. Trevor Peterson returns as the top returning scorer.
Scotty Guyon and 6-foot-3 freshman post Jared Williams also will be counted on for big things.
“Jared Williams could be our best freshman of the three-headed freshman monster,” Judge said. “He played like a sophomore that night against St. Francis. Jared, Kyle Morrison and Connor Peterson all will very important for us going forward. We’re definitely heading in the right direction.”