Gig Harbor High senior Mike Toglia is a baseball player. Everyone knows that, it seems. After every made shot at home basketball games, the Tides’ student section chants “UCLA.”
Toglia might be committed to the Southern California school to play baseball, but that doesn’t mean he can’t produce on the hardwood, also.
Through six games, Toglia is leading the team, averaging close to 22 points per game. While he was a solid contributor for the Tides last season, the 6-foot-4 power forward has elevated his game to another level this season, scoring from all over the floor.
“I thought I put the most work into basketball than I have into any other season prior to this,” Toglia said. “I knew going into this season, being a senior captain, I’d have to lead both with my vocals and actions on the court. I knew I’d have to put in a lot more work.”
Between baseball and basketball season, Toglia put in the necessary work. Every day, he worked on his ball handling, dribbling two basketballs in his garage. He also worked with senior guard Sam Gagliardi at the YMCA to get stronger with the basketball, dribbling two basketballs while Gagliardi swiped at his arms.
“I knew (ball handling) wasn’t the strong suit of my game,” Toglia said. “I wanted to add more tools to my arsenal. I knew I’d have to be able to handle the ball.”
Toglia’s future path in athletics is still clear to him: He’s a baseball player. He’s committed to UCLA and also has a chance of being drafted by a Major League Baseball team in June. So when it came to playing basketball, Toglia wondered if it was even worth it.
“That was one of the big things I had to take into consideration: If I wanted to play basketball or just put all my time into baseball,” Toglia said. “But it’s my last year to play organized basketball. I talked with my uncle and my grandparents. There’s no way that I won’t do something because I’m afraid of getting hurt or something bad happening. I love the game. I love playing. It’s the best thing for me.”
So far, his decision to put in the work during the offseason has paid dividends. Gig Harbor coach Billy Landram likes what he sees.
“He’s really good,” Landram said. “Physically, he’s heads and heels above everyone else. He hasn’t played a lot of basketball because he’s so good at baseball. He’s really good for us. We have to keep finding ways to get him the ball. He’s starting to get a lot of attention, which happens.”
While Toglia is arguably good enough to play basketball at the college level, suiting up for the UCLA basketball team is a bit of a long shot. But with Toglia’s success this season, he admits continuing to play basketball has crept into his mind.
“I’d be interested to see how far I could go in basketball,” he said. “If UCLA ever wants to me to walk on, I’d be really interested. As of right now, that’s not even really realistic. But I would definitely highly consider that.”
GIG HARBOR DROPS LEAGUE GAME TO YELM
Yelm senior Christian Davis tallied 37 points against Gig Harbor on Friday night, and that turned out to be too much for Gig Harbor to overcome, as the Tides fell to the Tornados, 53-51.
Gig Harbor (1-5 overall, 0-3 Narrows 4A) went back and forth with Yelm all night, but wasn’t able to convert key shots down the final stretch of the game. Davis was a one-man show for Yelm, nearly 70 percent of the team’s points.
“I thought we did a pretty decent job (on Davis) in the half-court,” Landram said. “He shoots it pretty much every time, in every possession. He had a lot on run outs where we just didn’t execute on offense and they’d get steals or get a rebound and kick it and get a lot of transition. He shot a lot of free throws, too. He’s a good player, though.”
Several Gig Harbor turnovers in the first half lead to some easy buckets for Davis in transition.
“No one is trying to turn it over,” Landram said. “They did some nice things. We definitely have some areas we need to keep working on to improve. Luckily, we have fourteen more games to do that.”
Davis may have scored 37, but there were several stretches during the game where Toglia looked like the best player on the floor. Toglia scored 22 points for Gig Harbor and pulled down 20 rebounds.
“He is really good,” Landram said of Toglia.
The Tides are most likely better than their record indicates, when fully healthy. Last year’s All-Narrows first team guard Sam Gagliardi, a senior, hasn’t suited up for Gig Harbor yet this season, battling a nagging foot injury.
“He was first team all-Narrows league for a reason,” Landram said. “He’s a really good player. The kids are doing pretty well without him. Hopefully, he’ll be able to come back in January and help us.”
With Toglia and Gagliardi on the floor together, the Tides could become a much more potent offensive team.
“When we get Sam back, I think we can compete and beat anyone,” Toglia said. “We can stay in any game and compete with everyone. We’re in every game right now. We’re close.”