Mike Gesicki got a late start to the boys basketball season.

Gesicki, a 6-foot-6 junior forward for Southern Regional High School, was busy helping the Rams' football team on its run to the South Jersey Group V final.

Gesicki is one of five Southern basketball players, including three starters, who also play football. Basketball coach Eric Fierro is the football team's offensive coordinator.

For two weeks, Fierro spent six hours per day in practices for the two sports. The football players, though, were limited for basketball. Gesicki shot about 100 jumpers and free throws after football practice each day before going into "full basketball mode" this week.

"You just have to have the mindset of you've got to push yourself an extra 30 minutes," Gesicki said. "You have to put in the work because it's going to be worth it in the end."

Gesicki has been to two state finals with the Southern boys volleyball team. He said the experience from the football playoff run will help for basketball.

"It's just that mindset of winning," he said. "It's that mindset of keep pushing yourself, day-in and day-out. … It helps you mature. It helps you grow up a little bit. And it just gives you a really great experience."

The Rams went 12-13 last season, losing in the first round of the South Jersey Group IV playoffs.

Contact Jason Mazda:

609-272-7193

Boys

League: Shore Conference A South

Group: South Jersey Group IV

Coach: Eric Fierro (21-30, two seasons)

2011-12 record: 12-14

2012-13 prediction: Contender - The Rams have three returning starters, and four of their five starters are 6-foot-4 or taller.

Key players: Anthony Speziale, Sr., C, 6-5; Anthony Romanoff, Sr., G, 5-7; Zach Policastro, Sr., G, 6-4; Joseph Barton IV, Sr., G, 5-7; Robert Yaiser, Jr., G, 5-9; Mike Gesicki, Jr., F, 6-6; Logan Sheehan, Jr., G, 5-11; David Hunter, Jr., F, 5-10; John Furlong, Jr., G, 5-11; Eric Ray, So, F, 6-4; Jake Logue, So., F, 6-5; Zac Halliday, So., G, 5-9; Dylan Clark, So., G, 5-11.

Games to watch: 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22 vs. Allentown; 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 7 vs. Brick Memorial; 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 22 vs. Lacey Township; 6:30 p.m. Monday, Feb. 18 vs. Pinelands Regional.

Boys

Dec. 14: vs. Toms River East, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 17: at Lacey Township, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 20: at Toms River North, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 22: vs. Allentown, 4 p.m.

Dec. 27: vs. TBD (home), time TBA

Dec. 29: vs. TBD (home), time TBA

Jan. 4: at Jackson Memorial, 5:15 p.m.

Jan. 5: vs. Long Branch, 1 p.m.

Jan. 7: vs. Brick Memorial, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 10: vs. Toms River South, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 12: at St. Augustine Prep, 1 p.m.

Jan. 15: at Brick Township, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 18: at Toms River East, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 22: at Lacey Township, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 24: vs. Toms River North, 6:30 p.m.

Jan. 26: vs. Middletown South, 1 p.m.

Jan. 29: vs. Jackson Memorial, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 1: at Brick Memorial, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 4: at Toms River South, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 7: vs. Brick Township, 7 p.m.

Feb. 11: at Central Regional, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 14: at Manasquan, 5:30 p.m.

Feb. 18: vs. Pinelands Regional, 6:30 p.m.

Feb. 21: at Barnegat, 6:30 p.m.