It’s crunch time for the Summerville Bears’ high school boys varsity basketball team.

There are 15 on the roster as the team approaches Mother Lode League play.

Head coach Ben Watson wants to whittle that number down to eight or nine players.

And he’s looking for players with the next-level drive he believes was missing from last year’s team.

“I didn’t think we were as competitive as we should have been,” Watson said. “Last year we struggled and we were a young team.”

But that was last year, and Watson believes he’s already found two strong post players in seniors Kyle Norton and Jiovani AmayaWood.

“They’ve been the most consistent,” Watson said.

Now he’s looking for players to support them.

So he’s mixing up lineups and trying to give as many players time on the court as possible.

Even though it’s considered a pre-season of sorts, wins still matter.

They’re used when deciding standings when playoffs roll around.

That puts a little more emphasis on winning than Watson would prefer at this time of year.

Watson, who has been coaching since 1989, hopes to see a return to the successes of past Bears’ teams.

The program’s history is filled with league and section titles, including the MLL title two years ago.

“Right now we're struggling to find ourselves,” said Watson.

As the winter break approaches, Watson hopes to have a better idea of who will earn roster spots.

The Bears were 3-2 overall heading into a non-conference game Franklin High School Tuesday night.

They return to tournament play Dec. 14-16 at the Hilmar Tournament.

Summerville begins MLL play Jan. 2. They’ll play at home against Linden High School. The varsity game starts at 7:30 p.m.

On Jan. 5 their MLL schedule continues with a home game against cross-town rival Sonora High School. That game also begins at 7:30 p.m.

“Hopefully this year we can have a little more success,” Watson said.