By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– They were a few minutes away from advancing to the Field of 32 for the first-time since the 2013-2014 season up two-possessions on Madison in the Play-In Game before the Senators rallied to deny McKay of their first-time back into the bracket in years.
The experience was a good one as the Scots entered the summer training with summer league basketball and the first-three days of winter practice as they prepare for another season in front of them.
“It’s a great experience, we know what it takes now,” said Damian Rios. “We work harder. We have a good, great set of seniors this year, not like the last few years where we had three-or-four seniors, this year we have more than just a starting five. So a few seniors that can come off the bench.
“And we know what it takes to win now, we put in the work we work really hard and it was a great experience.”
Khyler Beach talked about what helped in McKay’s 10-3 start last season as last year served as a learning lesson for the team on finishing the season strong as the Scots finished the 2016-2017 season on a 2-10 skid.
“I think it was how we all worked hard in the off-season and we got more team chemistry so it’s easy to start off right, we feel what the other was going to do and what we’re strong and comfortable with,” said Beach on the strong start to the season “For this year, we have to start off that way again and keep it going this time and not let up.”
Getting comfortable in the system they’ve been running could be something difficult to do, but McKay is slowly getting into the feel of it in year three of the run-and-gun, trap-defense scheme Dean Sanderson started during the 2015-2016 season.
Last season, the offense produced 82.1 points a game in it’s second-year, up from 69 points a game in it’s first season in the 2015-2016 season; and it just shows how comfortable the core group of athletes that Sanderson has entering this season as they look to their first-game of the season here in a few weeks.
“We’re more comfortable in it now, I think,” said Khyler Beach. “We got a lot of seniors in the group, a lot of us are returning and we just feel more comfortable and getting up and down. We just got to get in shape and get ready.”
Beach, Ryan Bangs, Andre Tovar, Israel Garza and Droji Joel, who are all seniors themselves, will probably be in the starting line-up in some variation and with some names like Levi Betty and Rios getting some minutes for the Scots this year too coming from the bench and/or starting as well.
The preseason schedule isn’t going to be the easiest though, it’s probably the toughest McKay has had in years with play-off teams like Lakeridge, Oregon City, Willamette and 5A’s Putnam. Not to mention probably their toughest challenge in Beaverton, the Beavers finished sixth in 6A and the Abby’s Holiday Tournament in Medford.
“I think it’ll be tough but I think we just got to come out and battle, that’s really what going to help us,” said Garza on the preseason schedule. “We got to come out here and give it our all , see what we can do.”
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald