De La Salle ‘fired up’ for Catholic League play

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For all the chatter De La Salle generated in the Catholic League late last season, when the Meteors shocked everyone by beating three ranked teams to win the Catholic League tournament, there is still a relatively quiet buzz surrounding this team and program.That wasn’t the case just a few seasons ago during the Jaylon Tate/Mike Shaw/Gavin Schilling/Alvin Ellis years, when De La Salle garnered headlines and high preseason rankings.“The hype and the headlines were cool, but I like that we have to prove ourselves,” De La Salle coach Tom White says of the difference between this year’s team and his past squads.Everyone from the coaching staff to the players see the makeup and chemistry of this 2014-2015 edition as a real plus. It starts with senior leaders Brandon Hutton and Karl Harris, a pair of Division I recruits, have provided over the past eight months.“They are both exceptional leaders who are always in the gym,” White said. “We have a lot of young kids in the program who Brandon and Karl have made sure are always around them. They have been leading by example. This is now a tight group.”Both Hutton, who will sign with Iowa next month, and Harris, who committed to La Salle University last weekend, state the leadership quality has come through maturation.“They look to us and we try to lead by example,” said Harris, who averaged 14 points a game last season. “We’re seniors and now have an idea of what we need to do as a leaders.”That means being first in the gym and staying the longest. It means getting the young kids in the weight room, doing what needs to be done in the classroom and helping build their confidence.“It’s about growing up and maturing,” Hutton said of his leadership qualities. “You realize it’s your time. You’re a senior and it seems natural for Karl and I to lead our team. We wanted to get the young guys on the right path.”What Hutton and Harris also decided and hoped to do was put their personal quests and decisions to rest when it came to recruiting. They didn’t want any distractions when the season started.“Our expectation was to commit to a school before the season started and then turn all the focus to our team goals at De La Salle,” said Hutton, who White said can guard anyone at any position on the floor. “We wanted to get that done and then just give it our all, leave it all on the floor.”Last week’s loss of starting point guard Martez Cameron, who transferred to Montverde Academy in Florida, was a direct hit to the hopes of repeating as Catholic League tournament champions. Harris will slide over to play some point guard minutes, while sophomore point guard Stone Park will play a bigger role.But last year’s surprise run, along with some young talent in the program — the sophomores also won the Catholic League tournament last year — have the Meteors feeling good.“We have the trophy,” White said. “It’s not the Stanley Cup, but it’s still big for us. We’re fired up about this year.”

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