Friday, Dec. 8, 2017 | 1:18 p.m.
The Coronado basketball team needs only three words to describe its long-term goal for the season — One more game.
The Cougars have emerged as a power program by making their first-ever state tournament appearances in back-to-back years, but the run ended prematurely last season when they were ousted in the semifinals. Two years ago, they lost in the state championship game.
All the success has left them wanting more.
“I feel like we’re going to have to play as a team, move the ball a lot and I think we can get the job done pretty easily,” senior guard Patrick Simms said.
Simms is one of the only contributors returning from last year’s team, which was packed with seniors. Twin senior forwards Tahj and Taieem Comeaux are the other two players who received regular playing time in 2016-2017.
Coronado graduated four starters and its top three scorers overall, but that doesn’t mean it’s entering a rebuilding phase.
“We lost a lot last year but we feel like we have a really talented, maybe the most talented team we’ve ever had,” coach Jeff Kaufman said.
Behind the strong senior class is a pair of underclassmen that the Cougars plan to rely on. Sophomore forward Tyrelle Hunt has developed a reputation as one of the toughest players in town.
Freshman guard Jaden Hardy is a big-time recruit, having already drawn an offer from UNLV, where his older brother Amauri Hardy is currently in the rotation in his first season.
“I think he’s one of the best offensive players in the city, not just as a freshman,” Kaufman said of Jalen Hardy.
Jalen Hardy debuted by scoring a total of 42 points in Coronado’s first two games, a pair of one-point wins against stiff competition in Centennial and Bingham High from South Jordan, Utah. He’s quickly jelled with the veterans like the Comeaux twins, who are enjoying getting to play together after they rarely shared the floor the first few years at Coronado.
“I feel like now me and my brother have our chance to show people what we can do,” Taieem said.
Coronado plans to do the same, and the first step will be winning a fourth straight Southeast division title.
“It’s a good mix of youth and veterans,” Kaufman said. “Hopefully we get them all playing together and when they start out playing together, we’ve got a lot of talent.”