The DeSales High School boys basketball team has a lot to accomplish with its upcoming trip to the Great Florida Shootout in Kissimmee, Fla.

The DeSales High School boys basketball team has a lot to accomplish with its upcoming trip to the Great Florida Shootout in Kissimmee, Fla.

With guard Nick Kellogg and Adam Griffin as the lone returnees to the Stallions' starting lineup, DeSales has turned to several new players to carry the torch.

"(The Florida trip is) real important," said Chi Chi Ariguzo, whose team opens Saturday against Kissimmee (Fla.) Poinciana . "It's going to be a chance for us to get closer together as a team."

Ariguzo received spot minutes last year and his assimilation into the starting lineup came late since he was a key member of the football team that made it to the Division II state final. Griffin has also had to make that late transition.

For a team that won four consecutive CCL titles, the Stallions found themselves in a stiff test last Friday during a 67-54 win over CCL rival Ready.

The Stallions, who beaten Ready seven consecutive times going into last Friday's game, led 41-40 midway through the third quarter. The Silver Knights used a brand of basketball that challenged DeSales ability to match Ready's physicality without going over the line.

Coach Blair Albright said after the game that it was a mental test. For three quarters it appeared to be working in Ready's favor.

In Florida, Albright is hoping the trip is another chance for the Stallions to not only bond as a team, but to become tougher mentally.

"This is a very important trip for our basketball team," Albright said. "We're inexperienced and the one thing we need to learn is to handle adversity and be mentally tough. This trip is a chance for us to show some growth in those areas."

Once the Stallions settled down in the fourth quarter, they cruised. After being outscored in the third quarter 17-13, the Stallions won the fourth quarter 20-14.

Kellogg helped spark the fourth quarter effort, along with newcomer Clinton James. Both finished with 17 points.

James is one of five players that scored last Friday who are seeing major varsity action for the first time.

"We have a bunch of people that need to be part of this team," Albright said. "This Florida trip should help speed up that process."

The Stallions open in Florida against a Poinciana team that was 16-10 a year ago and made it to Florida's regional tournament. Poinciana, the tournament's host school, returns three starters, led by guards Lex Curry (5-foot-10), Marc Osanto (5-10) and Wayne Ricks (6-0).

Two days later, the Stallions play Fort Myers (Fla.) or Lakeland (Fla.) Kathleen.

Fort Myers was 20-9 last year and returns its top seven players to a team that has won five consecutive district championships. They made it to a regional quarterfinal and are led by Colin Henry (6-4), Buddy McClendon (6-2) and Tyler Manning (6-4).

Kathleen finished as a regional finalist last season, going 20-6. Like Lakeland they also return five starters and can put some height on the floor with 6-6 forwards Lazedirick Williams and Dominique Gilbert.

Over the break last season, the Stallions competed in Orlando at Disney's Wide World of Sports event. The Stallions were 2-1. They lost their opener to Albany (N.Y.) Academy 52-46 before beating Corona del Mar 69-42 and Plant City (Fla.) 57-41.

They returned home to win seven of their next eight games. They're looking to duplicate that success in hopes that it leads to another appearance in the state tournament. It would be the Stallions' fourth in five years.

But to get that far, they have a few things to learn first.

"Our coach doesn't think we're really tough right now," Kellogg said. "That's one of the things we're going to work on is being mentally tough. We knew (Ready's) game plan was to get in our heads. We just had to stay level."