During last season, the San Diego Jewish Academy Lions boys basketball team, jumped out to a 5-0 start, with all cylinders clicking. But, their leading scorer, and at the time, one of San Diego County’s leading scorers, junior Andrew Retzer, got injured and the team went on a tailspin. Prior to Retzer’s knee injury, he was scoring at a 30 points per game clip and had scored a career-high 39 points against the Escondido Charter White Tigers on Dec. 20, including all of the Lions’ 18 third-quarter points.
“I really scored all the team’s points,” said a surprised Andrew. “I was not aware of it. That’s how much I’m into the game.
“Basketball is my life,’ he said. “I play it all the time and I bring what I know to the court. I have the support of my team and coach.”
Retzer finished the season playing with a knee brace and still was the team’s leading scorer at 19.1 points per game. His injury was a partial tear of his ACL. He is now on the road to recovery.
“I can’t wait to get a clean bill of health,” said Retzer. “It will probably be in August or early September. Also, I can’t wait to play our home games, in our new state-of-the-art gym.” The gym was used this June for the first time for the school’s graduation ceremonies.
“I started playing basketball when I was about 9 years old,” said Retzer. “I wanted to play something else when the soccer season was over. Two of my friends back then influenced me. Also, my great-grandmother Loyce Lemaire, who is 96 years old, encourages me also. She lives in Seattle and is still a big Seattle Supersonics fan.
“Since the team loses three key seniors and components next year,” Retzer added, “my goal is to be the leader and part of a solid team, that hopefully will go to a third straight CIF playoffs. I have to work on all facets of my game. Especially assists, steals and overall court awareness. Also to get off a quicker shot, and improve my all-around game.”
Retzer has a few routines he goes through on days or nights of basketball games.
“I don’t put on my shoes, before I get on the basketball court,” said the 6-foot 1-inch Retzer. “Also, I don’t start shooting around, until I put on my jersey.”
Retzer’s stats were very impressive for someone with his particular injury and limited mobility: 19.1 points per game, a 44 percent average on two-point shots and a 33 percent average for three-pointers. He shot 63 percent from the foul line, with rebounds per game at 4.2, assists at 1.6 per game and steals at 3.2 per game. Retzer says going into his senior year at the Academy, he would like to play basketball and go to college preferably on the West Coast or Pacific Northwest. His GPA was 3.8 and his mother Suzie Bergstorm’s apple pie is his favorite food. Classic rap is his music of choice and not surprisingly “Coach Carter” is his favorite movie. Also Retzer holds a junior black belt in TaeKwan-Do.
“My mom, is one of my role models,” said Retzer. “She tries hard in everything she does. She is always there for me and pushes me. Also, again my great-grandmother, and one of my best friends, Alexis Navarro, who was a camp counselor at the Kearney Mesa Recreational Center. He played baseball for the University of Missouri, he was 22 years old and died two years ago tragically in an auto accident, caused by another driver.”
“Andrew is just a wonderful kid,” said SDJA Head Basketball Coach Dr. Stephen Shoemaker. “He is mature beyond his years. In the three years I’ve worked with him, Andrew has never lost his composure. He has a tremendous work ethic. Andrew loves basketball so much, that he carries around a basketball with him all the time. It is a tribute to Andrew how he played with his injury. He will be the lone returning starting senior and this will be his team. And it will be very competitive, because of Andrew.”