The clock is ticking down, and the gym at Paul VI is bustling. There are basketballs flying everywhere as layup lines are winding down. Scorers are checking their notes. The public address announcer is getting pronunciations. The cheerleaders are getting set.
For Jalen Boyd-Savage, however, none of that exists. The junior forward for the Eagles has shut out the rest of the world, closing his eyes on the home bench and hitting the Calm App on his iPhone to begin his meditation.
“I just close my eyes and breathe in and out slowly,” Boyd-Savage said. “If I don’t do that, I know that I feel really anxious with that mindset of ‘I want to play. I want to play.’ With the meditation, you just come back to yourself. You have to try and find yourself in the happy place.”
For Boyd-Savage and the rest of the Eagles, that happy place has been the gym so far this season as Paul VI won seven of its first eight games.
“All of this stems from the fact that we all like each other. We enjoy each other, and we play well with one another,” Boyd-Savage said on Tuesday night following a 15-point, six-rebound performance in an 83-59 win over Seneca. “We know where to find one another on the floor.”
Boyd-Savage was averaging 10.6 points per game and three rebounds a game after Tuesday night’s contest. His greatest skill has been his ability to play the floor baseline to baseline, moving in a way that cuts angles off at the defensive end of the court while being freed up at the offensive end for good looks.
“We had a couple games here where we’ve gone to him for our big shots,” Paul VI head coach Tony Devlin said. “He’s our most zoned-in kid. He plays so hard that he plays to the edge. He can sometimes go over the edge, but it’s risk-reward because he plays so hard. But he’s the kid who can play in the big moment. We think they all can, but he is at the front of the class.”
That energy results in an almost non-stop style that can appear to be tiring, but Boyd-Savage did dedicate himself in the weight room and working on conditioning drills through the summer to be prepared for that task.