2018-2019 SoCal Basketball Student Section Champion; The Damien Pit (03/24/19)

I expected a battle for the SoCal Basketball Student Section of the year title, but I didn’t expect it to be that close.

Leave to the Damien Pit of La Verne and the Servite Asylum of Anaheim to go toe-to-toe. It was very close.

No matter who won, there was no wrong choice.

It was a tremendous year in high school basketball and the same could be said for the Student Sections this winter.

The gyms were rocking, the chants were loud, crazy and savage like. The themes were insane and for some, rushing the court was a badge of honor.

Let’s meet our four SoCal Student Section Finalist and let name the 2018-2019 SoCal Basketball Student Section of the year.

The Bishop Montgomery Swaglet of Torrance has built a dynasty in the Los Angeles section. This insane group always get their reward every year as the Knights, like the Swaglet, are at the top every year. Swaglet took the Los Angeles Basketball Student Section of the year.

The Torrey Pines Chaos of San Diego had to battle with a lot of the best student sections in San Diego. Taking the San Diego Basketball Student Section title wasn’t as easy compared to the other three SoCal regions.

The Chaos has the honor of seeing one of the best basketball teams on the court every year and the name fits this student section as The Chaos went wild during the CIF-San Diego Open Division Championship game, where the gate blocking the fans from the court wasn’t strong enough to stop the Chaos. Not surprised, this is a crazy student section.

Probably behind by just a few votes, the Servite Asylum was so close from taking the title. The Asylum might have the best themes and every game is basically theatre in the stands.

We got to see the mascot of the Anaheim Ducks show up to a game and hangout with The Asylum, we saw The Asylum lasso a Mater Dei Monarch of Santa Ana, we saw a boxing match, which resembled to Rocky Balboa.

You tend to forget that there is a basketball game going on.

It was a no brainer when they took the Orange County Student Section.

This student section is known as one of the best in the country by many sport media outlets and they almost took the SoCal title.

By a nail, the Damien Pit took the top spot.

The Pit is part of one of the best student section leagues in the state, the Baseline League. The Pit had to come prepared for every league game.

I should also note that the Rancho Cucamonga Rancho Rooters took the 2018 SoCal Football Student Section title. That’s how crazy the Baseline League is when it comes to student sections.

The Pit has enjoyed some fantastic seasons from the Spartans. Like the basketball team, this student section has a lot of tradition. Many ex-Pit members were glad that this student section is alive and very well.

This crazy student section that unites the community battled in the voting poll after taking the Inland Empire Basketball Student Section Title and with over 2,000 votes, the Pit and the Asylum had the same percentage, but upon further review, the Pit had more votes, but just slightly.

This basically went to overtime, but the 2018-2019 SoCal Basketball Student Section Champion is the Damien Pit.

We spoke with Pit leaders Rainier Gracial, Tyler Pugmire, and Ruben Del Castillo and we also spoke with a member of the Damien basketball team, Senior Guard Jacob Ortega on what it took to become this year SoCal Student Section Basketball Champion.

You guys are the 2018-2019 So Cal Basketball Student Section of the year! What did it take to stand out as the best in Southern California in 2018?

Del Castillo: “First, we would like to thank So Cal Student Section for your support of high school sports. It took our Tri-school community coming together as one with the support of our teachers and administration, who allowed us to express ourselves in a positive manner. Social media allowed us to reach out and create a force that allowed us to be present to support our high-ranking basketball team coached by the eminent Mike LeDuc.”

Pugmire: “Honestly, there was no way we could have done it without our social media, especially with our sister school’s Jackie Helbert helping us make these cool, creative flyers to post all around our Instagrams. On top of that, it really helps when you have such an exciting team as ours to watch; all the guys are really we’ll known around the school, and they’re some of the best people on campus. Our teachers never limited us creatively. If anything, they encouraged us to do anything to get students out to all of the games.”

Gracial: “It took lots of advertising, Snapchatting, and Instagramming to get the quantity of students to come out and support the team. Furthermore, we played all of the hit songs before, during, and after the game. The music played and the vibe created was intended to cater to our student body. We wanted to create a fun, supportive, and engaging atmosphere.”

Ortega: “As a part of the basketball team, I noticed that each individual on the team just tried to get the word out to friends and on social media before every game and even a week in advance. We wanted to have our fellow classmates come and support each game. Our Pit Leaders Ruben Del Castillo, Tyler Pugmire, Bradley Mullans, Rainier Gracial, Max Hector, Muhammad Abd-Allah, Colin Senise, and Ched Popov were able to just get the students involved whether it was with themes, chants, and just having fun. They were able to create a fun environment.”

 

If you’re a top student section, your basketball team will take notice. What have the Spartans players and coaches said about your team spirit?

Del Castillo: “They loved it! Some players and coaches comments to us were ‘You guys are great! There are none better,’ ‘We couldn’t have done it without you. We heard you loud and clear,’ or ‘That was hilarious! You guys shut them up quick!’ They told us we were their 6th man.”

Pugmire: “Coach LeDuc and Coach Dan always had our backs, and we couldn’t have been near our success without them. The team loved having us there. We have everyone trying to get involved with the game, and it’s really a change of culture and helps the guys work and play hard.”

Gracial: “Coach LeDuc called me into his office, and he told me, ‘I want the Pit poppin’’. I told him I would do everything I could to ensure the Pit is an all-out supportive and fun party. After every game, the players would always thank us for our support. Every home and away game, the Pit was there. The players noticed and realized the Pit’s dedication to supporting them.”

Ortega: “My teammates really did take notice in this years student section. At first, some of us were nervous because we had to learn to play with hype on our side, but after that first game, all of us loved the vibe at the basketball games and wanted more. Before and after games, there was always a conversation about our Pit, and it was always just funny and happy memories that we remembered from the game. Coach LeDuc and our assistants actually had a conversation with the team about our student section. We basically wanted to have a good amount of students there to gives us an advantage on the court. I don’t know what they were expecting, but I am absolutely positive our Pit exceeded their expectations.”

We noticed players and students from the past that were happy that the Pit is still alive and very well. Is this a student section tradition that is carried on to the next group of Spartans?

Del Castillo: “Yes, it is a huge tradition at Damien. It has been going on for many years. It’s a way for students from the Tri-school community to come together and cheer on our team while at the same time having fun with it. From here on out, the Pit will continue to be the best student section in Southern California because no other school can come close to outdoing Damien.”

Pugmire: “It’s an honor representing such a legendary student section, but yes, ever since we became a basketball powerhouse, the student section has been right behind them at all times.”

Gracial: “Absolutely. The Pit is a tradition that will continue to be carried on as it has been for many, many years. I am confident that the upcoming seniors will make the Pit their priority and responsibility, just as myself and the other Pit leaders have done.”

Ortega: “Yes, the Pit is a tradition carried on from class to class of Spartans. In my opinion, it is  a great tradition that we have because it brings our Tri-school community to create amazing memories with one another.”

Outside of you guys, who has been the best student section you have run into?

Del Castillo: “Chino Hills, Maranatha, and maybe Los Altos tried to outdo us. They all had good teams and student sections, but in the end, our student section was better, which is why we are #1.”

Pugmire: “The most intense game by far was when we were at Chino Hills, I’m not exactly sure if it was the students or their parents that were loud or just because it was so nice to beat them, but that game will always be in my mind.”

Gracial: “Chino Hills gave us a good run for our money. Their student section was loud and spirited. It makes me very happy to see other high school with such full of life and motivated students supporting their teams.”

Ortega: “In my opinion, obviously I think our student section has been the best, but some others I would include Maranatha and Etiwanda. Both were great and brought a large amount of students to the games we played against them, and they sure did do some research on our team.”

 

The Servite Asylum was in a very very close race with you guys for the title and Torrey Pines Chaos and Bishop Montgomery Swaglet were in a close run for the top spot in the polls as well. What are your thoughts on those three fantastic student sections?

Del Castillo: “I don’t know those students sections very well, but after seeing some videos, I can say they are good but not great. Got to give them credit for trying their best, but in the end, we won and that’s all that matters.”

Pugmire: “Servite’s Asylum was literally an inspiration to us all season. Seeing their highlights on Twitter is why we stepped up our game. They really know how to have fun, and we wish we would’ve faced them this year, just to see them in action would’ve been awesome.”

Gracial: “We all have something in common: We all want to show support and love for our teams. Those schools that were high in the polls should not be ignored. They are doing everything the Pit did. They are showing excitement for their teams and supporting them to the best of their ability.”

Ortega: “I personally did not see them, but I was able to watch some videos of their basketball team and saw their student sections in the videos. My thoughts were that I did think they were good and did belong in the top 4 for top students sections, but I did notice they did bring a large amount of students to there games, and that was awesome. In my opinion, what made us different from them is that our Pit was united as one and did everything as one, and they got everyone involved to cheer.”

Anything you like to say to your student section or your classmates?

Del Castillo: “Thank you for always showing up with lots of energy. Special shout out to the baseball and football teams for always boosting that energy. Without them, the Pit would not be No. 1! The laughs and funny memories will never be forgotten. To the underclassmen and future Spartans, keep this tradition alive because being a part of the Pit is legendary.”

Pugmire: “Thank you guys for everything. We really are nothing without y’all. Shout out to the seniors from all three schools for showing up for our last games. We’ll return again class of 2019 forever and always.”

Gracial: “If it were not for our students, the Pit would not be where it is now. The students are the blood and life of the Pit. Without the students, there would be no Pit. I am eternally grateful to all those who came out and supported our amazing teams.”

Ortega: “I would like to thank every single person that was able to come to the games. The basketball team was more than grateful to have you guys there. I hope we were able to give you the show that you deserved. For those younger classes, keep the tradition going and show as much love as you can to the sports teams. WE’LL RETURN AGAIN!!”

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