The San Bernardino boys basketball team is back in Southern California after spending Dec. 27-31 in Logan, Utah playing in the Cache Valley Electric Holiday Classic. But as far as Cardinal coach Darin Graham is concerned, a lot of them wouldn’t have minded staying in snowy Utah for much longer.
“We had guys that didn’t want to come back,” Graham said. “They really enjoyed the change of pace – the snow, the cold, the hospitality. They were big on the hospitality. I kept hearing ‘Man, coach, it’s so peaceful out here.’ They really enjoyed the change of pace.
The Cardinals (9-4) also enjoyed two wins at the tournament, going 2-2 with a victory over Springville (Utah) in the consolation game. But more than that, the trip was a chance for the team to bond and experience things that many take for granted – like flying on a plane.
“They were acting like tourists at LAX, running around to all the shops, pressing their faces to the windows to watch planes take off and land,” Graham said. “We had a few guys that had flown before, but most of our guys never had. There were a few that were scared to get on the plane and we tried to match them up with guys that have flown, but I saw a lot of guys with closed eyes during takeoff and landing.”
Those closed eyes became wide open upon landing, as the Cardinal players soaked in the entire Utah experienced. They toured Utah State University, played in the snow on an almost-constant basis, while half the team went ice skating one day. They also bonded thanks to the constant interaction with each other.
“When we lost, it wasn’t like they could go home and be angry on their own,” Graham said. “They had to stay with their roommates and deal with it together, which is something that will help this team.”
Graham was notified of the tournament, which flew in and housed the Cardinals on its own dime, through a professor of his at Azusa Pacific University. Graham indicated that the tournament has reinvited the Cardinals for next year, with the San Bernardino athletic department and administration eventually giving final approval on a return trip.