Jeff Keare

The Baseline Boys bring passion, hustle and friendship to the game

They may only average 1.3 points per game, but the group affectionately called the “Baseline Boys,” still make a large contribution to the M-A basketball team. The group, which consists of Guiann Lacbayan, Nick Cronin, Collin Shen, and Troy Sweetnam, say the name which they use to refer to themselves, is a running joke which stems from their lack of playing time.

“The Baseline Boys is a lifestyle. It extends farther than basketball. We are the players who don’t care about the glitz and glamor. We’re all about success. We just want the W. That’s all that matters in the end,” says Lacbayan.

The Baseline Boys formed in mid-November after they fought for and won the final four spots on the team. At a practice, when the other ten players on the team were all scrimmaging, and they were the only players left on the baseline, Sweetnam came up with the name “the boys on the baseline,” which was later shortened by Cronin to the “Baseline Boys.” The group revealed the name at the next Thursday “team dinners,” where they go to a player’s house and hang out to develop team chemistry. The name stuck and the “Baseline Boys” were born.

The Boys practice just as hard as the starters, warming up before every game and readying themselves to play. If their time comes, they are ready and willing to put it all out on the court.

The Baseline Boys by Sweet Ride. Credit: Jeff Keare / M-A Chronicle.

The other players on the team greatly value the contributions of the Baseline Boys. Bradley Stillman, the starting small forward on the team, who has played with or against each of the Boys for years, loves having them on the team.

“The Baseline Boys have amazing energy on the baseline. They inspire all of us to play better and be better. They always provide the team with humor and get excited for everyone out on the court. I believe they can easily compete out on the court because they always stay hungry.”

Another key player on the team, sophomore stand-out Will Beasley, who has been described as “Lebron James-esque” by anyone who watches him play and “better than Michael Jordan” by Sweetnam, believes the Baseline Boys are an integral part of the team’s success.

“The best part about the Baseline Boys is that they are okay with not getting the most playing time; instead they focus more on team aspects like creating great bench energy and cheering the rest of the team on. They are always happy to be part of the team.”

In addition to selflessness, Beasley also spoke about the energy the Baseline Boys bring to the team.

“The Baseline Boys bring great energy to the team. They are always in a good mood and that spreads to the whole team. In tough moments they try to lighten the mood.”

Members of the M-A Varsity Basketball Team played together at Hillview. Stillman on the left, and Baseline Boys Cronin and Shen in the center. Photo courtesy of Jeff Keare / M-A Chronicle.

While the selfless camaraderie of the Baseline Boys is a joy to watch, their passion and love for the game stretch back to their time at Hillview Middle School, where they played on Tournament Team together, along with Stillman. Tournament Team has been a staple at Hillview for over a decade now and while it is ending after this year, the friendships formed on the team is a contributor to M-A’s team success today.

Cronin, Stillman, and Shen fondly remember their Tournament Team days and wish that it would continue, as it gave them an early glimpse of what high school basketball would be like. Stillman reminisced about the team, saying, “I really enjoyed playing for Tournament Team. It was a great experience for all of us and a lot of fun. It really shaped me and my teammates to be the basketball players we are today and I hope it continues so that more kids get the experience.”

Stillman reminisced about the team, saying, “I really enjoyed playing for Tournament Team. It was a great experience for all of us and a lot of fun. It really shaped me and my teammates to be the basketball players we are today and I hope it continues so that more kids get the experience.”

Lacbayan takes his role as a Baseline Boy very seriously. Credit: Jeff Keare / M-A Chronicle

As the only senior member of the Baseline Boys, Lacbayan is enjoying the experience of being a top dog on campus. “Grades are solid,

“My grades are solid, the basketball team is looking great, and formal is just around the corner. Prom and graduation are coming soon as well. Man, what a time to be alive.” During the summer, he plans on asking Coach Nick Fogel for a job helping to coach his AAU (club) team so he can help develop the “young fellas” at M-A. Lacbayan doesn’t know where he wants to go to college. He joked that he will hold a “press conference in the spring” to reveal where he will go. He doesn’t yet know what he wants to do after college either.

During the summer, he plans on asking Coach Nick Fogel for a job helping to coach his AAU (club) team so he can help develop the “young fellas” at M-A. Lacbayan doesn’t know where he wants to go to college. He joked that he will hold a press conference in the spring to reveal where he will go. He doesn’t know yet what he wants to do after college either.

Starting on the freshman team, Lacbayan has worked his way up to varsity and he credits his coaches, especially, junior varsity coach Craig Carson and varsity coaches Mike Molieri and Fogel.

As a hype-man, Lacbayan brings passion and love for the game. His sideline antics have become the things of legend and he is the first to give a high-five his teammates.

When he gets into games, Lacbayan runs the offense as a point guard who loves to shoot but willingly facilitates his teammates. After the season, Lacbayan hopes to continue playing volleyball after two seasons on the junior varsity team.

He plays outside hitter and said that “anyone who wants to have fun should play [volleyball].”

Lacbayan wished to give a shout out to all members of the basketball team and his two favorite M-A athletes: Jordan Mims and Jacqueline DiSanto, telling them to “Go kill it in college!”

Shen drives to the basket during warm-ups. Credit: Scott Macdonald / M-A Chronicle.

Shen began his obsession with basketball in the third grade at Encinal. He played locally, throughout his time in elementary school and middle school and started competing with David Moseley’s AAU Mavericks team, along with Sweetnam. He later joined the II Deep team in Redwood City for two years and most recently, worked with the Metro Mirage, alongside Sweetnam for one more year.

Starting with the freshman team and earning team MVP, Shen worked his way up through the levels and is glad to finally be on the varsity team. Like Lacbayan, he made the junior varsity volleyball team in its first year of existence and decided after the season that he wanted to continue with the sport.

Shen is known for his shooting touch, as he utilizes a high release that allows him to get shots up over taller players. That, coupled with a solid off-the-dribble, mid-range shot, make him tough to guard.

Sweetnam shows his sweet form on a trey. Credit: Scott Macdonald / M-A Chronicle.

For the Sweetnam’s, giving to the M-A sports community is a family affair.

Carrie Sweetnam runs the after-school homework center for the football team making sure players keep up with their work and stay eligible and older brothers, Conner and Quinn, played multiple sports at M-A including, football and basketball.

“My family always tries to do whatever it can for M-A,” said Sweetnam.

Asked what he plans to do after school, Sweetnam joked, “I plan to go to the NBA or NFL, whatever suits me best. In the off chance that doesn’t work out, I think I want to do something with engineering, biology, or psychology, but I am not sure yet.”

After growing up in the M-A sports community, Sweetnam feels that M-A has reached a new level of excellence in the last few years.

“I think M-A sports have really begun to compete amongst other elite schools in the past couple years. In past years we had always been very good in terms of the Peninsula Athletic League (PAL) but recently we have had teams dominating in playoffs and have had multiple teams go to Nor-Cals or go to State.”

Sweetnam was one of the only freshmen to make the varsity volleyball team when the program began three years ago. He has continued to play and is looking forward to playing again once basketball season ends.

“I play volleyball and am also a part of the acclaimed touch football league based out of Brett Kessler’s backyard.”

In addition to volleyball, Sweetnam played on M-A’s football team his sophomore year but decided against playing as a junior to focus on making the varsity basketball team. For Sweetnam, being a member of M-A’s basketball team almost didn’t happen.

Sweetnam was one of only a handful of the kids allowed to transfer to M-A before his freshman year. Unlike his brothers, new district boundaries meant that he had to go through a special process to see if he would get in. He didn’t find out until late in the spring of his eighth-grade year, that his next school would be M-A instead of Woodside.

For Sweetnam, his love of basketball is a lifelong one, starting when he was just five years old on the playground at Ormondale in Portola Valley. From there he has played on several local teams including club basketball for Moseley’s AAU Mavericks squad for four years. In ninth grade, Sweetnam played AAU ball for B2B in East Palo Alto and recently was a member on the Metro Mirage.

When he plays, Sweetnam has an excellent shot and puts in a high percentage of his threes. He always hustles and makes sure to know exactly what to do on offense.

Cronin flashes a smile before a game. Credit: Scott Macdonald / M-A Chronicle

Cronin, the oldest in his family, is the first to go to M-A. While he spent two years at Saint Francis before transferring to M-A., Cronin is happy with the move but admits there have been challenges.

“The adjustment [to M-A] has been good but a little difficult. It’s all working out for me, though.”

At Saint Francis, he played on the junior varsity basketball team and baseball team. Because he is a transfer, he was ineligible for all of M-A’s non-league games during the basketball season. Cronin has enjoyed playing basketball at each school.

“M-A has a great basketball program. I’m not sure how to compare it to Saint Francis.”

Cronin began playing basketball in the third grade at Encinal and continued later at Hillview and for the Redwood NJB All-Net Team. After playing at St. Francis for two years, he made the move to M-A to play for Coach Mo and the varsity team.

After the season, Cronin hopes to continue playing baseball, and he has received looks from several colleges about playing for them and he plans on playing for M-A after the basketball season ends.

Outside of school, Cronin plays baseball for the club team NorCal, a top team in California.

On the court, Cronin is a bull, hustling for rebounds, errant passes, and loose balls, and gets up and down the court quickly.

Below is a highlight video for the Baseline Boys from the season so far:

The M-A team is 18-4 and coming off two incredible wins versus the formerly #4 and #6 ranked teams in Central Coast Section (CCS) in Palo Alto and Sequoia, proving the critics who doubted them wrong, yet again.

M-A continues to build a reputation as having one of the top basketball programs in northern California. Three years ago, after being led by “The Class of Legends,” the Bears reached the CCS finals, falling to Bellarmine. Last year, the team reached the NorCal Division 1 Finals and lost in a tightly contested match to Berkeley. This year, the team looks ready to get a second straight CCS Open Division berth and another shot at NorCals.

The Baseline Boys reflect on their integral role in the M-A basketball program. Credit: Scott Macdonald / M-A Chronicle

But for the Baseline Boys, this year is a special one. With, Lacbayan set to graduate, Cronin, Sweetnam, and Shen, will look to play key roles in what will hopefully be yet another dominant season next year.

The Bears have two more regular season games remaining versus Woodside on Friday, February 10 and at Hillsdale on Tuesday, February 14. Be sure to come out and cheer on the Baseline Boys!