By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– Days after their big 24-22 victory the excitement is still there of how Saturday’s emotional win was.
And should they be. First bracket play since 2012.
“It felt good. We earned it and we worked for it,” said Senior Andrea Villegas. “It makes sense now, we’ve been talking about it and it was a really big jump but this is what we’ve had planned from the start so I can’t be really that surprised because this is our goal that we’re shooting for.”
Kyle Buse, who rushed the court with his players in celebration, the emotions and the adrenaline hasn’t stopped since Isabel Vasquez nailed that game-winner.
“I don’t think anyone has mellowed out since then,” said Buse. “It’s still pumping strong and the heart is going hard and the emotions are still there. I know I texted a couple of people on Sunday morning and said, ‘hey how we doing? You guys remember we won third place and going to State’, it’s real.
“We went out to dinner and I think that team unity helped us and we’ll ride that into today’s practice and the rest of the week.”
And Andrea Villegas spoke to that team unity as they worked on their mistakes throughout the season to get to this point.
“We worked on team dinners, team bonding stuff and it’s working, we’re working together as a family,” said Villegas.
Fast forward to Monday’s practice, they knew they may have gotten Dayton in the first round and now they got confirmation of that, Buse isn’t shying away from the facts that are in front of them as they went to watch film on their opponent:
The Lady Pirates are the two-time 3A State Championship, Shawnie Spink is a stud. Buse sees some of Blanchet’s Sophia Poole and Ana Coronado in her playing style. You could see some Aimee Smith of Salem Academy in her style as well.
And the fact is, Buse isn’t shying away from telling his team how it is.
“I’m not going to sugar-coat it to them, their going to know all those details that they are playing against the two-time, defending State Title team. Two time Player of the Year player in Shawnie,” said Buse. “They’ve only lost the one game and they’re going to know all that and they’re going to be prepared.”
The lone loss of Dayton is against an PacWest opponent in Salem Academy by two, 52-50 on December 19. Blanchet pushed the Pirates to the limit in their December 6 as Dayton pulled away late in the Lady Cavs 56-48 loss.
With that, and yet another hostile environment by going to Dayton, it just goes to this idea of the Lady Cats of Gervais of being the ‘Underdog’.
What’s impressed Buse is how his team has embraced this ‘Underdog’ role. They weren’t supposed to get past Colton on the road. They did.
At Sprague Saturday, they were suppose to lose to Scio. They didn’t. They are starting to find a groove, building upon a foundation to be a champion.
And this upcoming game will bring some attention to the program.
“They’re started to train like champions, they’re trying to practice like champions and carrying themselves like champions,” said Buse. “We’re underdogs. We don’t have to worry about anything, we’re not suppose to be here. I think this week, people are going to start learning who Gervais is, what Gervais is and what Gervais Girls Basketball program is coming up
Villegas knows that this came out of left field to everyone, except for those within the Gervais program.
“Well we’re really pumped and we know that it hit everyone by surprised that we’re winning out of nowhere,” said Villegas. “But it was our plan. We were like not aware that was happening that quick and when it happened, it was overwhelming and exciting and we’re proud. we’re really proud.”
As for attacking Spink, shutting her down on the perimeter and limit her drives to the hoop and Dayton from driving to the hole in general; there going to what they know best.
“Our biggest goal this week is playing the same way we’ve been playing the last three games,” said Buse. “Last week, same game plan. Both games were The same game plan, we executed it very well. Game before that was against was Blanchet, it was the same game plan then because we were already preparing for last week.
“So it’s not like we’re going in here trying to reinvent the wheel or doing anything different or special, we’re just now trying to mentally prepare for a new team. Same game plan, new team.”
Tip off is at 6pm at Dayton High School.