By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–While waiting on Coach Anna Marchbanks to enter Gym A, the girls of the North Salem girls basketball were taking charge by stretching, doing three-man weave and leading each other waiting for coach to come in.
As one of the older girls on the team, Janel Urbina knows the importance of using this time over the summer to develop leaders on the young team as the coaches look to her to help lead the way.
“It’s important because if I set the bar then as a leader, if I set the bar everyone should follow naturally,” said Urbina. ““It’s really important because once you’ve set the tone, people follow after you,” “And if you set a bad example, they’ll take after you or bump heads with other teammates if I’m not leading.”
For Marchbanks, having coached most of the girls this past season as the freshman coach, it was something she preached to the players to start without her as she came over from work.
“That’s something I made sure I instilled last year,” said Marchbanks with a smile. “Because I worked until 3:30 last year so I wouldn’t get to practice until 30 minutes late. They know how to warm –up and do everything without me so by the time I get here we can get straight into drills.”
Though it’s just summer, the Lady Vikings are hard at work trying to build off some of the success’ they had in 2016 into summer league and to carry it into the fall and winter.
And as Marchbanks, after she arrived, observes the weaving to lay-ups, knows that her team is steadily improving over the past month and a half since they started.
“I’m really enjoying watching them grow, we start from the bottom, we start the whole teaching process over and just watching the girls adapt and also to take a teaching role with the new girls, it just inspires me,” she said.
From fundamentals, getting to know the competition and learning what Marchbanks is expecting from them as a unit Urbina, entering her junior season, knows the importance of summer basketball for the season ahead.
“I think summer is really important to learn the fundamentals and get to know the competition a little bit and even though we’re a JV team, sometimes you got to take two steps back to take three steps forward,” started Urbina.
“So that’s what I’m hoping we do this year and I’m hoping that this summer helps us be better during the season because we all really need it,” Urbina continued. “We just can’t take a long break and then expect to be same when we get back. This really will bring our team together.”
In a unique situation, the Vikings will run a Junior Varsity squad only in 2016-2017 and are in even more of a unique situation as normally a two-year deal when schools do this, is a one-year deal with North as they look to build for the future.
This situation, one of only a few times in recent decades, chased people away. But Urbina, an honorable mention in 2016, wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I think it’s really weird but looking at last year statistics, we need to take a couple steps back to take several steps forward,” said Urbina. “So I think that will be pretty good because I’m not just doing this for me, I want to do this for the school and for the girls that go here and also my family, for North Salem Basketball.
“I want to be here while we’re building up because I really want to see what happens by my senior year and I wouldn’t want to give it up to go to another school.”
With that, the girls are competitive “playing up” this summer, beating teams like Woodburn, Gervais. Teams that will help with confidence once they get back to full strength at Varsity next year against the West Salem’s and South Salem’s of the Greater Valley Conference.
They’re already averaging 40-50 shots a game said Marchbanks, double that from this past regular season where they were shooting about 20 a game.
But it’s all in confidence.
“I like it a lot, I like that all the girls are stepping up,” said Marchbanks. “It’s not one girl taking a lot of shots, it’s most of the girls. We’re not going to win unless every single players scores. You have to take it upon yourself, you get an offensive rebound, put it back. Don’t pass it out for someone else to shoot, you take that initiative and that leadership role and score the ball.
“One thing about playing varsity in the 6A, is that they’re going to be the top of their game, best of the best. And knowing that they can compete against other girls who are at the Varsity level. That’ll let them know that they’re increasing and improving and doing better.”
As the team awaits the reschedule of the Gervais game and as they close out the Summer League Season, Marchbanks is planning to continue with anything from Open Gyms to holding a once a week class to help keep the girls fresh between the end of Summer Ball and AAU Ball and Winter Ball in November.
“The most important thing for me for the rest of the summer to carry into the winter is to be continuous with the girls,” said Marchbanks. “Have open gyms, get workouts if they’re bored, just text me we’ll meet here. Just staying repetitive.”
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