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Newly promoted coach calls job ‘perfect fit’

Antony Ertola takes over varsity basketball program after three years on staff as assistant

Newly promoted varsity boys basketball coach Anthony Ertola directs his players in the Bulldogs’ season opener on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, against Tamalpais High School. Ertola was a member of the Bulldog basketball team from 2006-2008. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
Newly promoted varsity boys basketball coach Anthony Ertola directs his players in the Bulldogs’ season opener on Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2015, against Tamalpais High School. Ertola was a member of the Bulldog basketball team from 2006-2008. (MARK FIERNER / Martinez Tribune)
By GERARDO RECINOS
Martinez Tribune

Last season was a dream one for the Alhambra High School boys basketball team, even though they were knocked about by a juggernaut in the second round in the playoffs.

When you come up against the third best basketball team in the nation, losing isn’t something you can be mad at.

But a lot has changed in that time, the biggest of which is in the coaching role.

Anthony Ertola, who has worked as an assistant with the basketball team since 2012, was promoted to head coach last spring after the Bulldogs dismissed Linsey Bailey.

Ertola, a 2008 Alhambra graduate, says he has been connected with Alhambra even before he started attending the school in 2004. For 20 years he grew up at the school when his father Pat took over as the basketball coach of the Bulldogs.

“In the offseason last year, there were six or seven jobs I could’ve applied for, but I didn’t want to. There was only one job I would’ve wanted,” Ertola said of the opening with the Bulldogs. “I would’ve rather have been an assistant here than be a head coach somewhere else.”

Part of the reason Ertola feels such a kinship with the Alhambra job is his relationship with the students. As a physical education teacher, Ertola has gotten to know many of the students on campus, but his extended time with players who play both basketball and football (Ertola serves as an offensive line coach) will work to his advantage.

Players like Dante Abono and Jason Parilla, guys Ertola says will be key this year to a team that struggled to rebound the basketball last year, both played football. Both were linemen, and Parilla played the same position Ertola did in high school: center.

“He and I (Parilla) are very like minded, and we’ve worked together so much,” he said. “He was our eyes and ears in football, and we constantly bounced ideas off each other, so that trust level is there.”

Parilla, Abono and guard Josh Ramirez are three guys who will provide some of the senior leadership, along with another senior Zach Runyon. Runyon led the team during the absence of the football guys, Ertola said.

Also returning to the team is Jordyn Eglite, who was thrown into the fire as a sophomore and played a lot of minutes. Eglite has shown leaps of improvement according to Ertola.

“I’m expecting him to be a guy that we can rely on to make a big play,” said Ertola, highlighting Eglite’s experience at the varsity level.

That experience bodes well for the team, as well as the addition of solid first year varsity players like Matt Beck and Tyler Peters and a transfer student from Texas, Thomas McDonald. The depth coming off the bench will help spell starters and allow Ertola to have three units he can throw out at any time.

That lack of depth hurt the Bulldogs last season, leaving them looking fatigued near the end of the Diablo Foothill Athletic League campaign.

With a grueling league schedule coming, Ertola looks at the last year of the DFAL as an exciting prospect. With even perennial favorite Campolindo looking to replace big players, he expects every team to pick up at least a loss or two.

“There’s not an off night in our league,” the coach said. “It’ll be important for these guys when we’re going through our pre-season schedule to do everything we can to prepare for that.”

Miramonte and Dublin will both be tough this year, with key returning players highlighting their rosters, while Las Lomas will have solid players stepping in to replace their leaders that led them to a third place finish in 2014-2015.

The Bulldogs played their first game of the season on Dec. 1, against Tamalpais, who they knocked out of the playoffs in the first round last year. The first game of the final league campaign starts on Jan. 8, at home against Dougherty Valley.

About Gerardo Recinos

Gerardo Recinos is a journalist currently living in Concord, Calif. He is a recent graduate of San Francisco State University, with a degree in Journalism (History minor). Gerardo covers sports throughout Martinez and Pleasant Hill. It's his lifelong mission to get people in the U.S. to stop calling football "soccer," and to call American football "handegg."

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