By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– Tully Wagner admits that it’ll take a group effort this season to replace the giant holes left by Tanner Scanlan and Hunter Martin as they prepare for their first-game of the season Thursday against Tillamook.
But, Wagner is confident that with the team they have coming back led by Second-team All Oregon West Conference Trevor Ensign and Honorable Mentions in Grant Henry and Bryce Lemon that North Marion can find ways to fill those holes as the season is just about to begin.
“Trevor has been more active so far this season and we will definitely try to get him the ball in good spots for him to operate. Grant will see more defensive attention this year but hopefully will be able to get to the line a bit more than last year since he has improved going to the basket,” starts Wagner. “Bryce Lemon is also returning from last season where he was honorable mention all-league. He provides us with toughness and I expect his good defense to continue from last season.”
Wagner too adds that the Griffin Henry will have a few more opportunities offensively to step up as a shooter that Andy Schmitz, who’s returning to basketball for the first time since Tommy John surgery, can take advantage through his ‘pass-first’ mentality.
Sergio Jimenez also has stepped up his game as well entering this season and has caught the eye of Wagner during practice the last few weeks and is expected to see Jimenez’ versatility put to use this season as a sophomore.
“Sergio Jimenez has looked good In practice so far. He is long and can play multiple positions,” said Wagner. “He finishes really well around the hoop.”
It won’t be a easy road to start for the Huskies though with three-straight Cowpa League opponents right out of the gate with the Cheesemakers (third-place in 2017 on Thursday) and Valley Catholic (second-place in 2017, facing them on Tuesday December 5) as well as facing the defending 4A State Champions in Seaside to close out the preseason on January 12 on the road.
But, it’s not a unusual thing for North Marion to do in prepartion for the OWC in years past.
And with Stayton gaining some height this season and Cascade adding a six-foot-five-inch post in former North Salem and McKay athlete in Jordan Sampson to go with six-foot-seven-inch Damian Ball, the preseason this year will be no different compare to years past.
“I like playing a tough schedule because it prepares us for our league which is a battle every night. It also shows us that we can compete with anyone in the state if we play our best. Playing the Cowapa league teams in the preseason really helps because their league and our league are generally among the toughest in the state,” starts Wagner.
With them building off of the past few seasons in trying to get back to the final site location for the first-time since the 2014-2015 where they finished second in the State Torunament, confidence is there to continue their playoff streak while trying to get back to Forest Grove for the Elite 8.
“We are obviously hoping to get back to the playoffs for the fourth season in a row and it is a goal every year to make it to the final site,” said Wagner. “With it being three years since we were last at the final site, it is an experience that I would really love for my players (especially my seniors) to have. We are looking forward to the challenge of another season.”
The season tips off Thursday at Tillamook at 7pm before North Marion’s home-opener against Valley Catholic on Tuesday at 7pm.