Varsity Boys Basketball: Strengthening Bonds and Mindsets


The Friends Select varsity boys basketball team has worked tirelessly in the off-season to win the Friends’ League trophy that hasn’t returned to Friends Select since 1982. In the past few years, the team has not only worked on their skills but also the fundamental values of what it means to be a unified team in order to become a fierce competitor. The team has created a connection on and off the court that has created a close relationship that some consider a family. 

 “I really never had a close group of friends, and just building a bond with these guys has shown the true meaning behind brotherhood because honestly, I look at these guys as family,” Christian Kirkland ‘23 says.

 The group’s undeniable support for each other, alongside their core values has helped build this team into what Friends Select has been waiting for. One of the most important values of the team is responsibility.

“The team prides themselves on taking accountability,” Tiko Morris-Louis ‘24 explains. Doing so allows the team to make mistakes but continue to learn and grow from them. Because of the team’s undeniable care for each other, teammates feel comfortable making mistakes. They can trust that their teammates will always set each other up for success. 

Percell Coles, head coach of the varsity boys’ team, strongly believes that working in the off-season is crucial to the team’s success. Every varsity player is required to run cross country in the fall, which Percell also coaches. Percell holds basketball practices all year round and throughout breaks, as well as personal training sessions with players. His commitment to the team sets the precedent for the dedication and drive among his players. 

The team expresses how pivotal their fierce strategy is to compete with powerhouse teams. Percell capitalizes on the team’s strengths and continuously pushes the players to be better every day. “We will put more demands on ball movement and communication,” Percell explains. 

One of the first things any spectator notices about the team is their energetic play, especially defensively. The players often switch mid-play to different defensive formations and use their speed to create turnovers. The communication and agility that they work on in the off-season allows the team to set the tempo in each game. The team works to play each game with fearless energy, careful strategy, and mental tenacity. The team explains that the biggest factor that allows them to flourish is their mindsets. 

Working to strengthen the bonds and mindsets of the players has been just as important as developing skills. It is obvious that a reason for this tight-knit and hardworking group has been the current seniors. With eight seniors on the team, four being captains – Temir Davis, Che Ewell, Marley Ewell, and Christian Kirkland – the team has an abundance of leadership and role models. 

“Some of my strengths are leadership, experience, and a hard-working mentality,” Christian says. “Marley’s strengths are that he brings positivity to the team, has a good work ethic, and provides leadership. Che’s strengths are being vocal, hardworking, and giving energy. And Temir’s strength is being a vocal leader and hardworking as well.” 

The seniors create a safe space on and off the court and allow the group to grow together in ways beyond basketball. Marley expresses why a healthy mindset in basketball is important as an individual player but also a team player. “I remember being that super shaky freshman on varsity to a super confident junior and senior leader,”  Marley Ewell ‘23 explains. “Team-wise, we have become more skilled, not only physically but mentally as well; we do have our challenges, but we are consistently working on them.” 

Christian also talks about what it means to him to be a leader and a supportive teammate. “Just by staying positive, not remaining satisfied with myself, and always trying to achieve more,” Christian says. “ I support my teammates by just cheering them on because I know it can go a long way and help them become more confident when we’re playing in our games.” 

The seniors have led by example, showing underclassmen how to compete with each other and better themselves to create the best team possible. Over their four years on the court, all of the seniors have grown tremendously and are proud of not just the basketball players they have become, but also growing into becoming young men. The team is incredibly excited to have its most normal season in years and expresses the importance of the support from the Friends Select community. “[We are] also excited to get more of the falcon family in the gym to watch us PLAY!” Percell exclaims. 

The group has worked incredibly hard, not only in the past few months, but for years rebuilding the program. The group is incredibly grateful for Athletic Director, Bill Klose, for supporting the team in every way possible and for Percell investing years to see this team thrive. The Friends Select varsity boys basketball team is ready to take the season by storm and leave their hard work on the court.