CFCA sophomore Riley Kugel continues to grow his game on the basketball court.
A combo guard on the CFCA boys basketball team, Riley Kugel has seen tremendous growth since his freshman season last year. After winning a state title as a freshman, Kugel is hoping to help lead his team to back-to-back championships.
When did you first get into basketball?
When I was about 6 or 7, my mom signed me up for a local YMCA team — like Junior Magic — and I have just been playing ever since. And also watching my brother — since he is older than me — made me want to play the game more.
What has kept you in the sport for this long?
Just my love for it — I just love basketball. It’s my main hobby that I do every day, and I just love to play the sport.
What has been the biggest change between your freshman and sophomore years?
Coming from last year (I was) looking up to all the seniors who I was playing behind — trying to earn my spot over. They taught me a lot, like how to push through and fight, and coming into this year I have a way bigger role than last year.
What was it like — as a new guy — to come into the program last season and help CFCA win its first basketball state title?
It meant a lot to me coming in and winning a state championship my freshman year with teammates that I liked being around — they’re cool friends. So winning it with them meant a lot to me.
What’s the most challenging part of playing combo guard? Your favorite part?
The most challenging part is probably since you’re the One, so you basically have to know everybody’s position and every play that you run — you basically orchestrate the whole team. The most fun part is just being able to get my teammates open and being able to get them the open shots they need.
What are some of the best words of advice you’ve been given about basketball?
Just push through. Times get hard, and you may not like it, but you just have to fight to be successful and get what you want.
Coming into this season, did you have any goals in mind that you were hoping to achieve?
Win states — that’s my primary goal.
As a leader on the team who also is a sophomore, does that add extra stress on you?
A little bit, especially because I’m still young. But not really, because I know even if I do bad, my teammates got my back — they’re still there for me, so I’m all right.
What’s the most challenging thing about playing basketball in general?
If we lose, everybody starts getting mad at themselves and other people, so we just have to battle through it and push through all the stress that we have for the game.
Do you have a favorite player that you like watching?
Chris Paul, definitely. His IQ for the game is through the roof — he knows where everybody is at the right time, he finds his open teammates and gets them good shots. He is a playmaker.