By Jeremy McDonald
SCIO, Ore.–Head Coach Jim White is admittedly open about how young his team is this year.
With two seniors on his roster and five freshman who will be looking to get some minutes this year for a Scio Logger team that was on the wrong end of a buzzer beater a few months ago to Gervais, it’s going to be a challenge in more ways than not.
But, the Scio coach pointed to how their team retreat to Lincoln City this past weekend did help bring the team together from the two seniors in McKensie Reger and Kaitlyn Gray all the way to the freshman in Lexi Franklin and Laurel Otto.
“After our beach retreat, we had a lot of talks and the two seniors took it upon themselves to get to know all the freshman and actually they bonded really, really well. It’s not too often that seniors take control of the freshman and the freshman, they weren’t shy of it. They talked things out and when we left we were a family and that’s what we do.
“The two seniors stepped up, this is their last year and they want to make the best of it.”
During Monday’s practice, there were situations where Reger and Gray both perked up and helped White during a drill in helping the younger girls understand what’s going on in their offensive plays they were walking through.
And as they continue to come together as a unit and in one of the toughest leagues in 3A that has State Championship contenders in Salem Academy and Blanchet Catholic and the continue growth of a Gervais squad looking for a trip to the Final Site this year and an improved Jefferson squad this year, it’s going to be a battle come league. That goes to their motto about how are they invested?
“It’s a free-for-all for that thrid-spot, could someone slip into the second-spot, first-spot? You got to play the game, injuries happen, sickness happens you never know,” said White. “We’re going to take care of ourselves and that’s our main focus we’re talking about. Are we invested? That’s our motto, we’re invested and how much are we invested?
“Are we going to go through the motions and when February comes do our Senior Night and we get out of here and we’re done for the year? The seniors don’t have fun or are we going to battle for something? Battle one for pride and since I’ve been here, we’ve taken third the last couple of years, I kind of like that spot but lose in the league playoff. We still have room to grow, but there’s still room to drop.”
With this past weekend, there’s no doubt that White knows that this year’s Lady Logger team isn’t going to roll over easily with how they came together with the seniors and the freshman.
Of the freshman, Franklin will be the lone freshman who will be a full-time Varsity player when the season starts versus St. Paul Wednesday evening in Scio and White spoke highly of the freshman and knows she can be something once gets comfortable to the High School game.
And as Salem Academy had when Sydney Brown or Aimee Smith came in their freshman year, Blanchet even with Ana Coronado a few years ago and Gervais with Isabel Vasquez last year, all had the excitement of their coaches as they entered High School; White is no different with Franklin as the freshman comes in for her first-year of High School ball.
“She’s a pretty good athlete, she was a JV Volleyball player and I think she plays softball,” “I think basketball is her sport, she knows the game and I saw her, I think in seventh-grade when I took over here, I’ve had my eye on her…I couldn’t wait until she got to the High School level.
“She’s fast,, she just got to learn to control her speed, she’s really, really fast,” White continues on Franklin. “She needs to know when to use it and when not to use it, she’s a little discourage on herself…but I think that’s something I could work on. I’m just going to let her play, I told her she’s going to make mistakes, I never pull anyone out for making a mistake or taking a bad shot. It’s just your body language and react after you make a mistake.”
White used himself as an example of that even he makes mistakes as a coach sometimes while he was talking to the young freshman.
With the freshman going through the gaunlet and the wide-eyed moments of jumping into the deep-end of what is known as the Varsity-level and what is to come on the 29th versus the Lady Buckaroos in their first high school game that’s going to be followed by Creswell the next night, it’s going to be a learning experience right off the bat of how do they respond and react?
One thing is for certain, they’ll be looking to their two seniors, who were freshman themselves on the Varsity level not too long ago, to show them the way.
“That’s what we talked about over the weekend, I talked to McKenzie and Katelyn…I said, ‘you guys..the young kids are going to have to trust you and you have to trust the young kids. We got some kids that can shoot, they can play the game but they’re a little nervous. Because they came straight from eighth-grade basketball and going right into Varsity.
So you going to have to show them some positive reinforcement, you have to tell them it’s a good job, don’t get discourage with them because their going to make total mistakes and once they can start trusting you on that kind of thing, ‘oh they won’t get mad at me, I can keep playing hard’ and what we’ve done so far so good. I think it’s going to help us, I think as long as they stay positive, it will help us.”
The season tips off on November 29 at home versus St. Paul. Tip off is at 6pm.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald