By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore– Cameron McCormick quizzes his team on the core values that they have as a team as the North Salem squad around him stretches out for practice Monday afternoon at Houck Middle School.
In his first-year as Head Coach of the Vikings Boys Basketball squad, North Salem took a step in the right direction from the year before in terms of being competitive. They were in games like against McKay and Willamette until late, stepped up to the challenge and fought and finishing strong against other teams like Eagle Point and Dallas even though the record said 1-23 by season’s end.
“I’ll say that was a pretty big impact not to the team but the whole program, because now we know how to play together” said JD Drioji on how last season helped mold the team entering this year. “Getting to know each other, it’s going to be a big thing.”28
As Monday’s practice was about to begin at the Middle School, being at the Middle School because of Parent Conferences at the Main Gym at North and JROTC being in the smaller gyms outside of the big one, kids like Zac Sullivan and Tameron Hampton were taking turns laying it up and trying to dunk before McCormick called them in to start practice.
Hampton, a six-foot-six junior, will add depth and size to the post position for the Viks this season next to six-foot-four or so Rene Romero. Romero, is one of several returners along with Drioji, Sullivan and Braden Vasquez.
McCormick hopes that the addition of Hampton with Romero will help lead to more rebounds on both sides of the floor and eventually leading to points offensively.
“I think what will help us mainly on defense, possibly get more deflections and disrupt other team’s more than we did last year,” McCormick starts. “Offensively, I’m hoping that it leads to more offensive boards to be honest.”
Guards-wise, learning from Honorable Mention and 2017 North Salem-graduate Alex Vasquez showed them how to approach the game as they approach their first-game of the season at Willamette High School.
“Maintaining the tempo, don’t follow anyone else’s pace and pushing the offense,” said Braden Vasquez on learning from Alex Vasquez. “Taking the shot. Taking the shot, things like that.”
As McCormick calls them in, and starts the stretching lines where he quizzes his team, the team is excited for what is to come this season.
“We know how each other plays, understand the offense better. Obviously we got some athletic guys, we’ll be doing good,” said Vasquez on the team chemistry.
Drioji, like the rest of the team knows that the program is due. Due for more than two-wins over the last two seasons combined (2-46 in that span), maybe it’ll be a few more wins or it could be an unexpected season and they could get a play-in game if not a place in the bracket.
“I think this team, with the group of talented players, I think we can get a bunch of wins and I think we can go to the playoffs this year,” said Drioji. “Just by the talented group of players, yeah we can make it this year.”
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald