SELMA — A 17-day layoff between games could make a team lose focus, but Selma head coach Mike Pallesi wants to make sure the boys basketball team stays mentally ready.

“It’s hard to stay mentally tough knowing you've got so many practices,” Pallesi said. “We just have to go through the grind ... this gives us an opportunity to have a lot of good practices in between [games] to get better.”

Selma last played on Dec. 9, which was a 59-52 loss to Roseville High School in the championship game of the Taro Kobara Memorial Optimist tournament at Cal Poly.

The next games scheduled for Selma will take place at the Rail City Classic in Reno, which will occur Dec. 27-30.

So far, Selma has started the season at 5-3 with a tough schedule, but have impressive wins over Clovis North (74-63 score) and Centennial (80-62). Both schools compete in Div. I of the California Interscholastic Federation Central Section. Pallesi said both victories were great wins for his team to start the season.

The Bears have also played several schools from out of the area including Roseville, Freedom, Pleasant Valley and Thousand Oaks.

“We could easily be 7-1, but the competition that we’re playing is really good,” Pallesi said. “We played a lot of division one schools and teams from out the area….but it’s kind of hard to tell where we’re at because we’ve played teams that we’re not used to playing.”

This year, Selma was moved to Div. II of the CIF Central Section after an historic 30-5 season in 2016-17. The Bears were the Central Section Div. III champs before being bounced out of CIF Southern Regional Div. III quarterfinals in a heartbreaking 64-61 loss to Orange Glen.

“We want to go as far as we can,” Pallesi said. “They moved us up to division two, which is much harder. We want to win, we know how to win, but we’re just taking it one game at a time. I know I am, and I think they are too.”

The majority of Selma’s roster is seniors, who were part of last year’s historic team including the coach's son William Pallesi and Junior Ramirez, Manny Singh and Tiveon Stroud.

“We are battle tested,” Mike Pallesi said. “I think we could step on the floor. We’re not necessarily afraid of anybody, but you have to bring it every night.”

Something to look forward to this season is the Bears’ lone underclassman, freshman guard Aaron Blancas.

William Pallesi, Ramirez, Singh and Stroud all played for Mike Pallesi as freshmen, and Blancas is the next underclassman to join that list.

“He’s played a ton of basketball in the AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] travel circuit and he could battle and compete at this level,” Mike Pallesi said. “After my seniors, he’s pretty much the next best player in the school.”

At the Rail City Classic, Selma is slated to take on multiple schools in the Nevada region including Fernley and North Valley high schools. The team will also play against Bay Area high school Antioch during the tournament.

Jeremiah Martinez can be reached at 583-2413 or jmartinez@hanfordsentinel.com

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