Patel Living His Dream with the Warriors
Saagar Patel’s basketball journey came full-circle when he became a member of the Valley Regional boys’ basketball team four years ago.
Saagar attended plenty of Valley’s games as a child, and he always had the dream of competing for Head Coach Kevin Woods’s program. Now a senior, Saagar is leading Valley as one of the team’s captains, and he’s averaging 11.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game for the Warriors, who are 4-4 to begin their season.
“As a kid, I remember going to Valley games, and I admired Coach Woods, because he led the basketball program to success every year. It seemed like every year Valley was making a push to the Shoreline and state finals,” says Saagar. “Being a player for Coach Woods the last four years, his attitude and desire to win hasn’t changed. When he gives individual players like myself advice on how to make their game better, I trust that it will work because of how much experience he has.”
Saagar started playing basketball when he was in 2nd grade. Saagar spent countless hours shooting around with his father Nimesh in the driveway, sparking a passion and competitiveness for the sport that’s only grown stronger with each passing season.
“My father and I used to shoot around when he got home from work. I continued to grow interested when I would play basketball at recess with some of my friends,” Sagaar says. “Winning is definitely my favorite aspect of basketball. Giving all my energy on the court every time we have a game and then coming away with a win is a very rewarding feeling. Ultimately, all the work that I put in the offseason is so that our team can go out and win the Shoreline and state championship.”
Throughout the season, Saagar works on several different aspects of his game in order to perfect his craft. Saagar has also played basketball during the offseason, and he feels that’s been an instrumental component of his growth on the court.
“During the season, I watch the film for games that we have already played. This is a good way for me to pick up on things that I might have missed during the game,” says Saagar.
“During the offseason, I have done a variety of things to improve. During my middle school years and early high school years, I played AAU for one of our local teams, and I also did skills training with a coach in Cromwell and played with his AAU team for a short amount of time,” Saagar says.
For the last couple of years, the COVID-19 pandemic affected Saagar’s ability to play AAU and travel around the state for tournaments. As a result, Saagar has focused more on getting stronger, playing pickup basketball with his friends, and doing basketball workouts at his house.
Coach Woods describes the senior captain as a true student of the game.
“Saagar has a great work ethic and does all the little things well,” Coach Woods says. “Saagar can score from the perimeter, has great inside moves, and his midrange game is symbolic of the 1980s. His work ethic is amazing both on the court and in the classroom.”
Saagar feels confident in Valley’s prospects as the team enters the second half of its season. Saagar is looking for the Warriors to establish themselves as one of the top squads in the Shoreline Conference and make a run at the title before all is said and done this winter.
“We expect to be a top two or three team in the conference, and we expected the same results last year. We have faced a lot of injuries this year, myself included, but we are more than capable of fighting through adversity,” says Saagar. “We expect to win the Shoreline championship this year, and we also know that we are going to make a deep run during the State Tournament. We have the talent and energy every night to make it happen.”