“Winds of Change”: McKay Basketball-ACT 2: The Season Begins

ACT (CHAPTER) 2- THE SEASON BEGINS

Entering the first game against Dallas, the practice court still had the feel of the first day of practice with 5-0 drills and Green Shirts versus White Shirts in 5-on-5 drills.

During one variation of a 5-on-5 drill Sanderson would stop the Monday practice, two days before the Dallas and challenges the two-seniors on the court, Tristen Wilson and Darrell Woods.

“Your making them look like Jesuit right now!” yelled Sanderson to the seniors.”What do you want this season to be about?”

The white shirts were playing hard during practice prior to the challenge and it sparked the green shirts led by Woods and Wilson.

“I like the hustle, I like your drive.  One more time.”

Wood jumps on a pass perfectly, made a saving steal and made an easy lay-up as Sanderson blew his whistle.

“Perfect!  Let’s end it on that (note),” he said.

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Picture By Jeremy McDonald

 

 

Sanderson said later that the sophomores talent didn’t surprise him during the drill, but he expected the seniors to play better.

“We have a talented group of sophomores,” said Sanderson.  “We are bringing them along slowly, but we expect the seniors to set the tone with intensity, fire and competitiveness. When that doesn’t happen, I remind them of the core values we have.

“They finished practice strong although we didn’t have the focus we will need on Wednesday.“

The First Game

There was nerves and excitement around the first game of the season as the varsity team walked into the locker room during the second half of the Junior varsity game.

“We’ve prepared for Dallas and I think we’re going to come out strong,” said Wilson. “I think our team is having the mentality of knowing that we can win this game.  If we come out strong, it’ll set the tone for the rest of the season.”

“I don’t know, I’m just kind of nervous right now,” said Woods.  “But once on the court, we’ll be strong because we’re all excited for this.”

Keep!  McKay Team Hyping up
McKay Hyping up before the Dallas Game (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Even Sanderson was nervous, but remained optimistic as the freshman and Junior Varsity teams pulled off victories prior to the main event.

“Sure the players are more nervous than I am right now,” said Sanderson.  “But I’m really excited to see where we’re at right now.  I have more confidence coming into this year than I did last year and that’s always a good thing.”

While the teams entered the court Sanderson and Martino were talking about shot charts and stats before Martino went to the court and Sanderson went to the stats table.

“Talk!”  “Better, better.” Yelled Martino during warm-ups.  “Right here! Quick, Quick!”

The other coaches by the bencb were laughing with under two to go till tip and when the lineup was read.  Cheers erupted.

Starting Lineup on Opening night: 5-10 Junior Hayden Hull, 5-9 Sophomore Israel Garcia, 5-9 Junior Shaton Daniels, 5-5 Junior Josaiah Castillo and 6-4 Senior Tristen Wilson.

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The team during the National Anthem (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Adversity had faced from tip-off like an old friend from practice.

Down 6-0, Wilson scored seven unanswered as McKay went on a 12-2 run and led after one.

The Dragons answered by putting the Scots in a seven point deficit mid-quarter.  34-27.

Then the rally.

Slowly chipping away until a quick Noah Tavera steal and pull up at the buzzer gave McKay a 39-38 lead into halftime.

“First of all I knew we had less time because everyone was yelling, ‘Look at the clock, look at the clock’,” he said on the play.  “I tried to be behind the three-point line, but I guess I wasn’t.

“I guess the adrenaline kicked in and I took a shot.  I was confident it would’ve gone in, but sometimes you got to trust your shot.”

Every basket in the second half as McKay grew a lead was met by louder cheers in the crowd.

Up 48-42 everything seemed right in the Scots world.

Then adversity reared it’s head again in form of a 17-0 run as McKay found themselves down 59-48.

Faced with a 65-60 deficit into the fourth, Wilson scored six of his 28 points as the Royal Scots got it within one several times.

But McKay couldn’t finish the job

It was deathly silent heading into the locker room.  Sanderson and company gave them a moment before heading in.

The mood wasn’t serious, just a friendly reminder that it was one game out of 24 that they’ll play this season and it shouldn’t define them as a team.

“Look it’s a long season,” Sanderson told the team.  “Basketball is 24 games, three-and-a-half-months.  We knew coming into this it wasn’t going to be easy and we have a long way  to go.”

As the team exited the locker room that night on their ways home for the evening, the team can rest their hats on knowing that they can battle strong through adversity.

“Our battle back was good,” said Woods who finished with nine points that Tuesday night.  “We just came up short.  Things happen like that, you come up short sometimes.”

“Battling back is a huge positive for us,” added Wilson.  “Down 11 halfway through the fourth and we battled back with our fast quality of our offense and that’s why we have this offense so we can battle back like that.”

Wilson spoke with a few people on his way out.

“I could’ve done better.”

“You guys are young, you guys did amazing for the first game.”

Heading into practice the next day in preparation for Aloha, Sanderson turnt up the heat on the team.  Challenging the young squad to adjust to more adversity.

“To not be soft and get through feeling sorry for yourself,” described Sanderson as a point of emphasis for the practice.  “We can’t mope about losing by one point and to try to get a little bit better.”

By the end of the practice, confidence was high and they were optimistic entering their second game of the season.

McKay muster a second quarter rally against Aloha in a 81-69 defeat that saw Darell Woods score a game high 19 points and Tristen Wilson and Jordan Castillo both would go on to score 14 points.

THE CHALLENGE

Monday’s practice presented a challenge by Sanderson.

“Come on, let’s go,” said Noah Tavera cheering on his green shirt team who were up 19-5 in a intrasquad scrimmage with momentum on their side.

After the underclassmen scored another point, Darell Woods threw a basketball down and yelled a word of profanity on the court out of frustration as his upperclassmen team was defeated.

Tavera was asked, by Sanderson, why his team beat the seniors.

“We battled hard and we didn’t quit,” said the Junior.

Sanderson gave a team a choice, buy in or make excuses as they went up a tough Century team from the Metro League Tuesday.

“This is your season,” said Sanderson.

Walking out of the locker room, somber looks were on the faces of the team as they comprehend what Coach just told them minutes earlier.

“He’s trying to motivate us to start leading,” said Demeris Bailey, who came back from an ankle injury he suffered earlier in the season.  “We haven’t done a good job with that.

“It motivates me.”

The Challenge worked.

Playing behind the press, they turned a 11-point deficit towards the end of halftime into a nine-point lead entering the fourth quarter in a 89-80 loss to the Jaguars.

“It gave us a run and the press is going to hurt us at times and the press is going to help us,” said Sanderson.  “Against a team like (Century), it helped us tonight.

“We need to do a better job of helping them, we got a young team.  A lot of guys getting first varsity minutes, but I feel like we’re ready to go into league.  We are ready to play.”

The First Win-The First Road Game

As Steve Young yelled after the San Francisco 49ers victory in the Super Bowl during the 1994-1995 season, “Get That Monkey Off My Back!” in celebration of getting rid of the critics that he couldn’t win a Super Bowl.

Friday, December 11, McKay finally found themselves saying that after three prior chances with a massive win, not just on the road, not just the Greater Valley Conference, it was also against their rival on the other side of Market Street Northeast.

North Salem High School.

“We came together at practice, as a team and we contributed as a team,” said a very prideful Wilson in the middle of the Vikings court following the game.  “Not one person on this team didn’t help us out tonight.

“Everyone contributed equally.”

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The McKay Team Celebrating (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Entering the second half up 11 and the Vikings coming off a 15-5 run to end the first half; balance hanged in the air.

Will we have a repeat of Century or will the Royal Scots find a Royal way to get that victory?

They did.

Khyler Beach got them going en route to a 20-plus fourth-quarter lead with seven straight points en route to the 75-59 victory that Friday night.

“It just gets us more energy and motivation to keep doing what we’re doing and to keep going after it,” Beach said about the contribution on the game coming out of the locker room.

The team was riding high, emotions were good.  The team was feeling like they are on top of the world as they got that first win of the season.

“We came together at practice as a team and we contributed as a team,” Wilson said.  “Not one person on this team didn’t help us out tonight, everyone contributed equally.

“We hate feeling this losing mentality so we’re going to change it ourselves within our team and I think we did that at practice.”

ACT 1 Link:  https://jmcdonaldmedia.com/2015/11/30/act-1-the-preseason-mckay-basketball/

Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013).  Got a story idea? Email him at jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81!

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