South Mountain making playoff push
February 5, 2019 by Zach Galman, Arizona State University
It has been a long time since South Mountain made the playoffs but this season the Jaguars find themselves in prime position to end the drought.
South Mountain,13-4 and second in 5A Metro, is on a five-game winning streak and looking to make the playoffs for the first time in five years. Arizona State forward Zylan Cheatham led the team to the state playoffs in 2014.
The Jaguars have treated their last five games like their march madness run.
Coach Jeremy Soria stressed the Jaguars don’t want to leave their fate in the committee's hands.
“We don’t want them to get an opportunity to say, 'See we shouldn’t have let them get in because they can’t beat x, they can’t beat y,' ” Soria said.
Starting guards Zay Freeney and Kyree Ware know all too well what happens with any loss at this point of the season.
“We were last seed out of the playoffs last year with our whole senior group and that was really heartbreaking,” Freeney said. “Me and Kyree took that personal and this year we are trying to stop that.”
Freeney calls it a “win or go home” mentality.
“We know if we lose any of those games we’re done. Our playoff hopes are done,” Freeney said.
Ware agrees and credits this winning streak to the way the coaching staff has prepared the team.
“All the drills, all the running, the tires, the track, the weight room, Everything,” Ware said. “We take in the pressure too. He wants us to put the pressure on our backs and I feel like we take it in pretty good,”
Welcoming the pressure is something Soria prides himself in and instills into his players.
“I’m just a different breed, I enjoy the pressure and I try and reflect my attitude and who I am unto them,” Soria said. “You should feel pressure. I want you to feel the pressure if you lose this game you go home.”
Soria put the pressure on the team the beginning of the season.
“They’ve been under the gun,” Soria said. “They’ve been under pressure this entire year, so to me putting this pressure on them is nothing they haven’t faced.”
Inviting the pressure builds confidence, according to Soria. Every player embraces this philosophy.
“I’ve been with coach J since my freshmen year, so he applied the pressure to me pretty early because I got to play varsity as a freshman,” Ware said. “I kind of rubbed off of him.”
With the end of the season Tuesday against Central, one thing is for certain. Win and the Jaguars are in the playoffs. Lose and nothing is guaranteed.