Without Jacquise Bates and Martyre DeMarco, the Redondo Union basketball team would be in a world of trouble.
With them, the Sea Hawks have shown much promise.
The two transfers have taken up the slack in the absence of starting point guard Brandon Boyd and forward Austin Moore, the team's top returning scorers, who are out until January with knee injuries. Bates and DeMarco have filled the void quite nicely, Coach Tom Maier said.
"They have fit in very well," said Maier, whose team resumes play on Monday after a two-week break at the Foothill Holiday Classic in Henderson, Nev. "They've become more and more comfortable with what our program is all about. It's taken a little time for them to fit in, but they're such both good athletes it's been a smooth process."
In three games, Bates, who missed one contest because of an ear infection, is leading the team in scoring at 20 points per game. He is shooting 60 percent from the field and has hit 8 of his 12 shots from behind the 3-point line.
DeMarco is averaging 15.8 points in four games and shooting 54.1 percent from the field. He leads the team in assists (4.5 per game) and free throw shooting (78.3 percent). He also is averaging five rebounds per game.
DeMarco's best performance came in a win over Compton Dominguez in the Pacific Shores Tournament on Dec. 4, when he scored 26 points and hit some crucial shots down the stretch. Bates finished with 23 in the victory, the two combining for 49 of the Sea Hawks' 70 points. Bates also scored 20 in the Sea Hawks' victory over Lynwood in the tournament.
Their scoring and versatility have allowed the Sea Hawks (2-2) to bounce back from losses to Lakewood Mayfair and Gardena in their opening two games before recording victories in their last two, Maier said.
"DeMarco handles the ball extremely well because he's a natural point guard," the coach said. "He's a slasher and he knows how to get to the basket. Jacquise has surprised us with his outside shooting. It's one of his assets. He's basically like Austin, but he goes to the basket quicker."
Their adjustments have been a quick study, despite both moving to Redondo Beach in August. Bates moved to the South Bay from Syracuse, N.Y., while DeMarco relocated from Phoenix. Both love it here.
"The weather is awesome," said Bates, a 6-foot senior. "Actually, everything has been great."
"I'm really happy I'm playing here," DeMarco said. "In Arizona, it was pretty much run and shoot and I had that attitude when I came here. There wasn't any structure when I played there. The first person who touched the ball was usually the one who shot it. We run the ball and push it here, but everything has a purpose. If option A isn't there, then look for option B or option C if B isn't there. The program here is more geared towards winning."
That in itself made it easy for him to mesh with his new teammates, DeMarco said.
"Fitting in hasn't been too difficult at all," said the 6-2 senior. "All of the players have been receptive. They all embraced me, which helped out a lot. I pretty much like everybody, but if I had to choose a favorite it would be (Mwelu) Mataya. He's like my brother. But I'm pretty cool with everybody."
"We all get along pretty good," Bates said. "So it's been pretty cool."
And when everyone is healthy, the Sea Hawks and their up-tempo game could make them a force to deal with in the Bay League.
"We've played through adversity since we didn't have three of our starters," DeMarco said.
Mataya, the team's 6-7 center and a returning starter from last season, has missed three games, two for disciplinary reasons and one when he had to take the SAT.
"Our biggest problem has been rebounding, but with Mataya back, we should be pretty good. We'll be really strong when Brandon and Austin come back though," DeMarco said.