“I had to work mainly on my shot,” said sophomore point guard Cole. “I stepped into the weight room, I had to work on my strength a lot.”
Cole also spent a lot of time with his teammates as they worked collectively on becoming a stronger unit.
“We lost seven seniors so coming into this year it was pretty much a whole new team,” said Cole.
“We started early. We played in summer leagues, we played together in the fall. We just all got really comfortable with each other and we started jelling. By the time we got into the season, we were ready to play even though we were starting as a whole new team.”
The fruits of that labor were on display last Wednesday as PDS hosted the American History School from Newark. The Panthers jumped out to a 20-8 lead after one quarter and took a 49-19 advantage into halftime.
PDS never looked back on the way to a 79-46 triumph as it moved to 5-0 on the season.
“Today we started out really well, we came out strong and we had about a 30-point halftime lead,” said Cole, who contributed 16 points and some slick assists.
“We wanted to come out after halftime and start the first four minutes fast and well. We wanted to hold the lead and not let American History come back. We wanted to stay on our game.”
Cole and PDS junior star Davon Reed have developed a partnership that really helps PDS’s game.
“Davon and me have been playing together since were eight years old,” said Cole.
“We know how to play with each other. Playing with Davon is a really big up. I know where he is and he knows where I am all the time.”
PDS head coach Paris McLean had the sense that his team would come together this season even though it was featuring a lot of new faces in the starting lineup.
“We only had Davon and Matt Cook coming back with a lot of varsity playing time so we had to blend early,” said McLean.
“The boys’ commitment to stepping up in the offseason, whether it is in the weight room or open gym is paying off with a 5-0 start. We look like we are in great shape; I think we could run for days.”
McLean likes the way Cole is running the PDS offense from his point guard spot.
“I always knew he was going to be a great player,” said McLean, who got five points from Cole last Monday as PDS topped George School 74-50 to improve to 6-0 with Reed scoring 32 points and passing the 1,000-point mark in his career.
“For a young kid being a freshman and coming into a varsity role it is the speed of the game. Now he has adjusted to that and he feels comfortable. He is crafty; he shoots the ball well. He does a lot of things well. He is a great point guard and he can score.”
Junior guard Langston Glaude is another young kid who is playing well for the Panthers.
“Langston is such a cerebral player; he understands the game well,” said McLean.
“He thinks like a basketball player so it is nice to see him get in on the scoring as well because he can score. We have multiple weapons.”
While Reed, who has been rated as one of the top 100 juniors in the country by several hoops rating services, is the team’s top weapon, the Panthers know they can’t rely on the 6’5 star to do everything.
“One of this team’s mottos is ‘hurt the help;’ if someone comes out to help on Davon, whoever is open has to hurt the help and make them pay,” said McLean.
“So the help will be a little less next time and Davon will be open.”
PDS is dedicated to working together. “The team made another motto –‘everybody eats,’” said McLean, whose team plays at Conwell-Egan on December 21 before competing in the Delran Tournament on December 27 and 29.
“Everybody eats in this family and that means everybody gets a touch on the ball and everybody gets shots when they are open. You don’t see guys pointing fingers saying why did you take that shot or why did you do this because we are comfortable with each other.”
Cole, for his part, believes PDS can make its foes uncomfortable throughout the season.
“I think we are going to surprise a lot of people; we came out strong this year,” said Cole.
“I think we just came in with a chip on our shoulder; we just wanted to prove to everybody that PDS can beat anybody any time. We have the attitude that we can beat anybody who steps on the floor with us.”