By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.–If there was anytime to pass the torch from Senior to underclassmen for the 2017-2018 season, the league finale between Gervais and Scio was just that.
While the Lady Loggers were thinking that senior Andrea Villegas, perhaps maybe fellow senior Fabi Benavides as probably going to take the game-winning shot tied at 24 to Scio in the winner-goes-to-the-bracket-game on February 18 at Sprague High School.
That idea alone allowed the focus not to be on the post, and that’s where freshman Isabella Vasquez hit probably the biggest shot in her young prep career with a off-hand lay-up that turned a tied-ball game to a 26-24 lead with seconds remaining in the win that day.
“Well us as a team, we worked together as a team and I feel like this year we still…we lost two really good players last year and this year I feel like we’re going to do pretty great because we still have the five good seniors on our team we’re going to do pretty great as a team,” said Vasquez as the team prepares to wrap up the first week of practice for the new season.”
Though they drew two-time State Champions and 2017 3A Runner-up in Dayton in the first round and sadly lost 63-27, the experience taught them a few lessons entering the summer.
“I think facing them, sure we got Blanchet and Salem Academy in our league but facing Dayton last year and those two teams, it just shows us where we want to be,” said Head Coach Kyle Buse. “They set the bar, they’ve been to the State Title game the last three-years, they got a good shot being there again this year and I think with us seeing them it’s like:
“‘Ok, there’s the bar, that’s what we want to get to. Now we got to bring it our work here at home before we go take them on the road. I think we’re ready and we’re preparing and it’s been a good first week.”
To get to this point, Gervais had to incorporate four-freshman and another freshman that will be swinging up with the five seniors and only a handful of juniors and seniors in between to the line-up.
It brings kind of a equal balance almost to the equation. You have the experience now and your building for the future, and with Buse’s influence on the middle school and the feeder system that’s coming up, those girls are ready to make a move once they get to Gervais.
Senior Daisy Correa talked about the cohesiveness that the team had last year and adding the freshman on-top of that just adds to it moving ahead.
“It’s really cool, I think they’re really talented and I think we play great with them,” said Correa. “So I think it’s going to be very easy for us to come together and to play as one.”
Over the summertime, the team meshed well with one another during the summer league fun as they get back into a rhythm once more and work on a few things then as they continue to see how they can improve once the season did actually begin.
“It definitely helped the transition,” said Buse. “Last year i feel..the last two years I feel the transition was good from JV to Varsity or transition kids on to the same page. Having the freshman to be able to play with the older kids over the summer, it develop those relationships, those friendships and they’re there, their strong.
“And so, that was huge and now we’re going to take what these two weeks before the season starts, just gelling them together and bonding them. They’re a pretty close group, but it’s going to be closer.”
As the first week of practice wraps up, Buse finds himself not going over too many things as he signals for a drill and the girls transitions into it like it was January instead of mid-November, the goal of wanting and knowing they are capable of a winning record is there in front of them this season as they hope to make another run for the State Playoffs.
And maybe, just maybe if they run hot by season’s end as they did last season, they could find themselves fighting for a trophy by season’s end.
For the meantime, it’s back to practice with the Vernonia Tournament on December 1 and their first home game on December 5 against St. Paul.
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