Last season ended on a high note for the Zama American boys basketball team as they capped a 10-22 season by surging to a sixth-place finish in the Far East Class AA tournament.

Capitalizing on that momentum, and helped by the influx of junior Ben Bishop and sophomore Carlos Walter, the Trojans boast a 12-3 record — their best since Zama’s 1994-95 Class AA Final Four campaign.

“Ben is a heck of an athlete,” longtime coach Tom Allensworth said of Bishop, a transfer from the American School In Japan. “Carlos is still learning the game, but has unlimited potential; he’s done a lot to help the team.”

The two have averaged double figures in scoring, as have returnees Wilberto Badillo and Aaron Tabor, who have “continued what they started at Far East,” according to Allensworth, who also has seniors Eddy Kelley, C.J. Leon Guerrero and sixth-man D.J. Lane back from last year.

Allensworth and assistant coach John Leipheimer have divided coaching responsibilities, Allensworth focusing on offense and Leipheimer on defense, “and they’ve responded pretty well to that,” Allensworth said.

He pointed to Zama’s 50-48 triumph last Thursday over ASIJ, a game that Bishop missed but the Trojans won anyway, as a difference from last season.

“When everybody is together, we play pretty well. If we lose one of our starters, we struggle. We didn’t have Bishop, so we struggled, but we pulled it off,” Allensworth said. “I don’t think we could have done that last year.”

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