Head coach Wesley Rosenbaum is back for the Panthers as head coach in his third year. Rosenbaum is happy with the progress the North Side has made in these past three years, but is still hungry for more success.
“We built this program from the ground up,” Rosenbaum said. “We went from losing by 40 to 50 points two years ago, to competing in Moore League and making a run in the playoffs. We really competed with some of the teams that have been in the top end and now we’re focusing on winning those games.”
Rosenbaum said his roster has always been young, but they return a few experienced players this year.
“I feel like we’re gonna have another great season, and it’s going to run deep again,” Senior Asia Edwards said. “We have a handful of our returners back so it’s just another round of the same thing. We’re going deeper though.”
Edwards is leading the charge for the Panthers, as she earned First-Team Moore League and Second-Team CIF honors last year.
“She’s back and she’s just better,” Rosenbaum said. “She worked all summer playing on a really competitive club team and she’s just more experienced.”
This effort is part of Edwards’ preparation for her senior season. She said now that she’s a more seasoned upperclassmen, she is definitely ready to lead the Panthers this season.
“As a senior, I’m just trying to lead the way and really accomplish what I want to before moving on to the next level,” Edwards said.
Joining Edwards for strong returners is Second-Team Moore League forward Breana Patu. Patu is a six-foot junior who is looking to use her experience to help make some noise for the North. Micah Lemons is another returning forward for Jordan. Sisters Marlene and Savannah Hernandez are also back for Jordan. Marlene plays center while Savannah is a combo wing and forward, Rosenbaum said.
Two young guards that are stepping up for Jordan are Jahasharee “Jay” Moore and Janiah Lorn. Rosenbaum said both saw a lot of the court as freshmen last year, and are looking better for their second season.
“They played a lot of minutes as freshmen, but they’re just more confident and more experienced,” Rosenbaum said. “They’re just more ready for the level of competition. We’re really excited about them.”
Newcomer Bryanna Moran is a senior transfer coming in from Los Angeles. Rosenbaum said she transferred to Jordan in the spring, so she’s had time to acclimate with the team.
“She’s had some time to get comfortable with players and teammates and Long Beach in general,” Rosenbaum said. “She’s going to really help us at the guard position with handling the ball and offense.”
All of these players are coming together to form Jordan’s squad for this winter season. While some of the players benefit from skill and experience, Rosenbaum said the most important aspect in each of his players is their mentality.
“It’s all about mental toughness. A lot of the players don’t come in with experience, but they’re all willing to learn,” Rosenbaum said. “They have to take the kind of embarrassing moments, and they have to get over it. That’s what makes us so special and so tough, is because they’ve been through the hard parts, and they know what it feels like to lose in the struggle.”
Rosenbaum is hoping that while his girls are learning from their losses, they are also benefiting from their success in recent years.
“Now they’ve started to feel what it feels like to be on the other side of that, and to push through,” Rosenbaum said. “To convert those tough losses and tough moments into winning opportunities, bringing grit and togetherness into a team mindset.”
Rosenbaum is expecting all levels of his squad to come together to contribute to this team mindset. He said he is especially counting on his upperclassmen to help guide the younger Panthers.
“That confidence and that leadership, really, I think is gonna set us apart from some other teams,” Rosenbaum said. “This is the Moore League, there’s a lot of great teams, but I mean it when I say that I don’t think anyone is as mentally and physically tough as we are.”