There’s a new head coach for Tehachapi Warriors boys basketball and he’s already identified a nickname for his first team: “the perfect storm.”
Moe Cramer never thought he would be in this position as head coach of the Warriors, but a perfect storm of events triggered his taking over for Tehachapi. The other elements of that storm include the fact that he’s coached these kids before, during his first season as a freshman coach at Tehachapi High School three seasons ago. He knows his team, and he knows the program. He’s hoping this perfect storm rains damage on the South Yosemite League.
“These are guys that started young with me and all these weird things that have happened in our community to make this happen,” Cramer said. “Everyone’s adversity from the past, everyone’s positive stuff from the past is coming together for one positive season.”
Cramer acknowledges the experience he received working with his two predecessors, Luis Saavedra (2016-2018) and Chris Olofson (2004-2015), as key reasons he’s leading Warrior basketball today.
“When I was coaching with Luis, he (Olofson) was always kind enough to let me come to practice, to be at the bench and to hear him in the huddle was inspirational,” Cramer said. “He was firm and calm at the same time. When I saw him doing that, I thought, 'this is how you do it.'”
When Saavedra left a few seasons ago to coach varsity, Cramer took over at the freshmen level, coaching what are now his senior class in 2018-19. When Saavedra announced he was leaving the program just over a month ago, it was another piece of the storm that brought Cramer up two levels to lead the varsity squad, the same team he won a league title with three seasons ago.
“We had a great season. We took first place. They are a fantastic group of boys, their parents are phenomenal, and we all get along,” Cramer said. “So, when this opportunity arose, that camaraderie was the first thought, and how blessed I would be to get one more shot with them, that is what sold it.”
Cramer credits his experience in the United States Navy and as a person who helps establish physical therapy businesses for his organizational skills that translate to running a basketball program at the varsity level. He’s putting all that into his philosophy with this squad.
“Lots of hustle, lots of pressing, lots of pressure, in-your-face-defense,” Cramer said. “Everything is geared in my study not to what I want, but to what talent I have, and I’ve selected offenses that are going to highlight those things.”
Cramer has plenty of height to work with on this squad, not a normal luxury for many Tehachapi teams, but something he plans to take advantage of. Riley Thomson stands at 6’6” and weighs 220 pounds; it was Cramer who encouraged him to return to basketball after he was cut twice in middle school. He led the Warriors in rebounding last season, averaging five a game, and Cramer expects him to be the strong defensive presence in the post for Tehachapi.
There are three or four players with the ability to play above the rim, again not normal for a Tehachapi hoops squad.
“Drew Bauer is a 6’4” perimeter player who has a long-lanky body that can shoot from the outside, which is tough to defend,” Cramer said. “Chris Garcia is as much as a superstar in basketball as he was in football. He’s a great team leader and I expect him to be very powerful driving to the hole.”
The height is nice, but the task with moving the ball around sits on the shoulders of point guard Jared Carol. Cramer says he has terrific ball handling skills and excellent court awareness and he expects Nate Gallego to share some of that responsibility as well as the backup point guard for the Warriors using the same skill set as Carol to facilitate the Warrior offense. Zach King will also be on the Warriors roster, the only sophomore on the team this season, but Cramer says he’ll contribute plenty on the court.
“I think they (fans) will come out impressed with our team … they are going to be so disciplined and run motions plays that look like a ballet or a chorus,” Cramer said. “My expectation is that all my starters be in double-digits and anyone who steps on the court should be able to score."
The Warriors have a pair of road scrimmages this week at Rosamond and at Centennial. They open their season at home at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 27 hosting Kennedy High School.