By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.–With three games remaining in their season, the Gervais Cougar Boys and Girls teams are in the hunt to clinch a spot in the league tournament coming the end of next week’s games.
The girls basketball team, sitting at 8-11 and 3-6 in the PacWest Conference have the fourth spot on lockdown as they are 2.5 games behind third-place Scio and half-game ahead of Jefferson for fifth-place
The Guys sit 5-14, 2-7 in league and are in a two-way tie with Chemawa for that fifth and final spot with Scio a half-game behind them at 2-8.
To get into the league tournament, both must finish fifth or better in the conference standings and with jockey-ing for position just starting to heat up, Jefferson is next on the docket for the squads Saturday as they start to make that final push for the league postseason and for the Field of 16 in the 3A tournament.
For the girls, they have the hunger as they put an Ana Coronado-less Blanchet squad down into 2 six-point deficits in their second meeting of the season and competed very tough against other teams as they look to use that hunger and use that for a full four quarters.
“I think that Blanchet game is a good example, we have to take our preparation seriously,” said Girls Head Coach Kyle Buse on how preparation helped them especially during that game on January 20. “Before the Blanchet game we have four days of practice and obviously we won’t have that with every game but if we take our preparation seriously and come out and ready to go, I think we’ll be able to handle that moving forward.”
Buse mentioned that they haven’t shy away from mentioning about their desire of making the playoffs and his team is buying into that they can make it starting with the league tournament as they look to improve on the little things like offense.
“I think our defense is there, it’s our offense we have to get stronger at,” said Andrea Villegas. “I think our offense is what we need to get stronger at, it’s definitely one of our weakness’, but with the team’s we’re going to be facing, it should be head-to-head, we should be there.”
“We have to work as a team, we have to strive to be better and I agree with Andrea that our offense needs to be better to get a little bit better,” adds freshman Isabel Vasquez.”Our defense is doing very good.”
On the guys side, it’ll be a dogfight to say the least for that fifth spot as the Braves beat Jefferson Thursday night to make things really interesting as Chemawa and Scio will try to slip into that final spot as they try to find some depth, something that has been a little bit of an issue for the Cougars late in the season due to illness and injury.
“We used our bench today because we wanted to limit injuries,” said Gervais Guys Head Coach Ben Schultz. “When I saw Alex go down grabbing his knee I was like, ‘Oh no’, but going to our bench is more of building those guys up, not only for this year but next year too. Trying to get those guys step up in situations.
“I don’t have much of a bench, I have guys who swing. I have three guys who can play one quarter, so my bench is kind of limited. But now I got Chazz Forbert who came off of academic suspension and could play today and getting them minutes if viable.”
Derrick Jaramillo, who sat out to rest an injury, spoke highly of everyone getting experienced versus Salem Academy Thursday as they hope to seal off the fifth-seed.
“We’re going to need the whole team for this year, we’re going down to the last game,” he said. “If we take care of business and finish up games strong, we’re looking at State and making a deep run at playoffs.
“We have to get everyone healthy. Make sure our bodies are well and strong going into playoffs and hopefully we make a deep run at State.”
For players who showed improvement, like a Elvis Vallejo, to get there, it starts with practice Friday and then Jefferson on Saturday.
“We just have to work hard in practice, just keep pushing and hope to win against Jefferson,” said Vallejo.