Change the culture.
That’s what head coach B.J. Joseph set out to do after taking over the Indian River High School basketball team last season.
Now, in just his second year at the helm, his coaching philosophies are already starting to set in, with the Indians off to a 3-0 start with wins over Delmarva Christian, Worcester Prep and Seaford.
“He keeps us going. He wants to work hard every day — he’s not playing around,” said senior forward Isaiah “Izzy” Bratton of Joseph. “We’re confident, but we’re not slacking off. Not a bit. We still have to go hard at practice.”
“It looks like the culture is starting to change,” said Joseph. “I think we’re moving in the right direction.”
Bratton headlines the senior class this season, along with guards Colby Chandler, Thomas DiBuo and Damontae Waples.
After taking the reins at point guard as a freshman last year, sophomore Jamier Felton returns this year as a shooting guard, with sophomore Antonio Jones returning at forward after seeing a starting role as a freshman last season as well.
“We’ve been working hard in practice,” said Felton. “We’re trying to do something this year, trying to make the playoffs for our seniors.”
Felton was able to make the move back to his natural position due to an influx of freshman talent this season, including freshmen guards Kevin “K.J.” Custis and OrRyin Morris, who both made significant impacts for Selbyville Middle School as eighth-graders last season.
“K.J. is a lightning bolt. He has speed that you just can’t coach,” said Joseph of the freshman point guard.
“Jamier is a leader. Izzy’s a leader and Colby. Then we’ve got the young guys that came in, and they sort of took them under their wing.”
Also in the lineup mix this season are juniors Patrick Mumford and Calvin James, with Academic All-Conference sophomore forward Kashid Waples joining Bratton under the boards.
“We’re more as a family this year. More together,” Bratton said of the squad. “We play as a team.”
After starting off with wins over Delmarva Christian 61-55 and Worcester Prep 69-39 on Friday, Dec. 2, and Saturday, Dec. 3, the Indians made it 3-0 with a 61-50 division win over Seaford on Tuesday, Dec. 6.
The scoring was spread out in that game, with Felton leading the charge with 16 points and Bratton and Custis putting up 15 each. Jones also managed double-digit points, with 10 on the night.
From downtown, Bratton knocked down two three-pointers and Custis added one from beyond the arch.
But despite a crucial Southern Division win putting them at 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the division, as they geared up to head to Delmar on Friday, Dec. 9, at 7:15 p.m., they said they weren’t satisfied with their performance.
“We have an opportunity to be 4-0. Now we have to keep growing as a team,” said Joseph. “We’ve got another South team, in Delmar, coming up. We’re just trying to improve all the time.”