By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– Damian Ball has always been well-versed as an individual and nearly as intimating as his father Steve Ball with their booming voices and their smarts on-and-off the court.
Ball, who has been a tall figure in the Oregon West Conference the four years he’s been there and going up against guys like North Marion’s Trevor Ensign the last few years and Stayton’s Kaleb Anundi the past two years to name a few. And though he’s been known for his defense, the development of his offensive game didn’t kick in until this year.
“It’s been mostly developmental, I’ve never been a scoring presence really until this year. So it’s been difficult working on my offensive game just because of what I’ve been expected of throughout the years but, but I’m adapting quickly this year,” said Ball. “I’m finishing a lot more consistently and I use a lot more variations in my moves.
“The biggest thing for me is learning when to make the move and when not to make the move.”
Similar to a Tim Duncan-type, Ball is a quiet leader on the team and tries to lead through his role on the team instead of trying to do too much that doesn’t fit his skill set. With the season in it’s final four-games of the regular season, Ball doesn’t plan to break that model as he plans to lead from that with Cascade trying to solidfy their spots in at least a play-in game if not more.
“I’m going to do my role on the team, that’s going to be rebounding and being an offensive presence down low but another big part is ensuring that everyone is staying confident and understanding what they bring to the team. I’m trying not to do something they’re not comfortable with. So I think if we stay confident we can have a good finish to this league,” said Ball on his role on the team.
And it starts with Friday’s home game versus their rival Stayton. Along with the X’s and O’s that go into it, Ball did talk about the excitement of the last time of facing the Eagles with the chance of tightening that OWC-Title race just that much more following the game.
“I’m looking forward to it, (Kaleb) Anundi and I have been going after it for the past couple years,” starts Ball. “He’s a good player, I respect him for the way he plays and what he brings to the team and I’m looking forward to it when play this Friday.
“This year, it’s a big deal for us, especially for league ranking. We need to beat Stayton on Friday to help us out for ranking in league and hopefully go into the playoffs. But personally, this is a huge game for me, this is my senior year. This is my last home rivalry game against Stayton and we’ve got to win this one.”
In a unique twist during his high school career, Damian Ball had the chance to enjoy the opportunity to share some of his basketball career first-hand with obviously his father being the Head Coach of the Varsity team; but also his mother, Rosey Ball, as well who was a part of the program the first three-years of Damian Ball’s prep career before going back to the College ranks before the start of his senior season.
And though it’s been fun, it’s also bittersweet knowing it’s coming to an end after this year.
“It’s been a lot of fun,” said Ball with a smile. “I wish I had a couple more years, but I don’t so get to go out with a bang.”
Father Steve, who was speaking from a parent’s perspective instead of a coaches point-of-view, talked about how awesome it was to share this experience with Damian first-hand on the bench instead of from the stands.
“Oh it’s fun watching, seeing him develop and helping him in the process of understanding what he can do and how far he can go. It’s been a lot of pride, but it’s been a lot of headaches for the both of us, we’ve definitely gotten on each other’s nerves at times,” smiles Steve Ball. “But he’s taken it very well. Willing to listen and it’s really been a fun ride with him so far.”
And though this is the last year of the Damian-Steve dynamic, Damian’s younger brother Dominic is coming up through the ranks and Damian hopes to leave a lasting message to his younger brother about what you put-in with effort, will pay-off.
“The example I hope to set for him is be more of an aggressive player,” said Damian Ball on his younger brother. “Right now he has a mindset where he doesn’t think he’s a scorer but I know he is and we’re trying to work him out of that so when he get’s into high school, he’s going to be an offensive presence and hopefully he’ll be Varsity-ready by his sophomore year.”
As for the underclassmen, Ball knows his influence is limited with those around him as Cascade practices in separate gyms during practice, but still finds a way to leave an example for them to take away after he graduates.
“My influence is fairly limited to some of our guys on our JV and JV2 teams, but most of what I do for them is setting an example of the intensity that they’ll need to bring to the Varsity-levels in the upcoming years.”
Damian Ball, well-versed and one heck of a ball player. Friday night marks another game in which he gets to show-off his basketball skills when the Eagles come to town, tip-off at 7pm