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Switching from pads to sneakers

01/07/2013, 2:24pm PST
By Craig Malveaux

Serra's Calvin Crockett and Eastlake's Blake Wilson overcome battered and bruised football bodies to play basketball for their respective teams.

Serra junior Calvin Crockett, shown making a catch against Patrick Henry during football season, scored 19 points in the Conquistadors' basketball opener.

Bengay wasn’t enough to fully numb the pain.

However, Calvin Crockett — four days removed from a strenuous twelve-game football season that left his body battered and bruised — wouldn’t allow a few aches to prevent him from playing basketball against Mt. Carmel.

It was the season opener. And if Crockett could dribble a basketball, the Second Team All-Eastern League guard was going to contribute minutes for Serra in the Eagle Invitational. No questions asked.

“My body was very sore in some places,” Crockett said. “Not enough for me to take some time off from basketball.”

Thirteen games into the season, Crockett is physically fine. He’s averaging 20 ppg for the (9-4) Conquistadors and has no limitations.

Late November, though, after a playoff game against Ramona, Crockett was fragile. He stretched plenty, which alleviated the gnawing feeling in his back and joints that grew worse over the course of the football season. Ice baths helped, too.

Crockett suited up, anyway. He guided the Conquistadors to a 59-52 season-opening victory over Mt. Carmel, tallying a team-high 19 points. For an encore, Crockett poured in 26 points the very next day to oust Foothills Christian.

“I could tell he was a bit tired on the court, even though he wouldn’t tell me,” said Serra coach Glen Worley.

“So I monitored him and limited some of his playing minutes in the first couple of games. You have to work him back into game shape.”

Like Crockett, Eastlake’s Blake Wilson, who finished playing football on the cusp of basketball season, immediately rejoined his squad on the basketball court.

Wilson, however, did not have the “luxury” of resting before he laced up his sneakers.

The senior linebacker competed in the Division I CIF Section Championship game on Friday — registering two sacks and eight total tackles against Mission Hills— and jogged onto the basketball court on Saturday in the season opener.

“I had no energy to do anything the following day after football, but luckily enough, the game wasn’t until that night, so I got the chance to sleep in and relax all day.,” the senior forward said.

“Definitely a tough transition, but you’re only young once. The soreness left once I started running around the basketball court.”

Wilson soaked in his Jacuzzi tub and ate plenty of salads and other healthier foods to prepare his body for the transition.

“My mom doesn’t really give me a choice as far as foods go,” Wilson said chuckling.

Initially, there was a bit of rust for both Wilson and Crockett. Limited practice time affected their fundamentals — dribbling and shooting — and their timing.

“Basketball is definitely harder to pick up,” Wilson said.

“You can go however many months without playing football and put the pads right back on and go. It’s kind of like riding a bike, you know. But basketball, it takes a couple of weeks to get back into the flow of playing with teammates and regaining your shooting touch and form.”

Conditioning themselves to play a more free-flowing style sport didn’t happen overnight, either.

“You’re constantly running in basketball, whereas in football, you get a few breaks,” Crockett said.

“When I’m on the field, I can catch my breath. It does take a toll on your body over time, but with basketball, it’s just constant running.”

According to Worley, his simplistic offense aided Crockett’s transition, which allowed the guard to experience success early.

“I give the kids a lot of freedom on offense. We don’t really run a lot of difficult plays, so he didn’t have to necessarily learn anything complex,” Worley said.

“We get Calvin the ball a lot, regardless.”

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