Picking Up The Pace

By Jeremy McDonald


SALEM, Ore.–  Last year was maybe as expected for the South Salem Girls Basketball team.

New basketball coach in Adrian Lewis taking over for a legend in Nick McWilliams, new system and new faces followed on the heels of one of the most dominate periods in the Salem-area and probably one of the most dominate runs in the State.

Last season wasn’t an Elite 8 run or a bringing home another League Title as South Salem was accustomed to through the years, but they finished the regular season 12-12 and 10-6 in the final year of the Greater Valley Conference.  The Saxons held Jesuit to their third-lowest point total of the year, but South Salem’s offense couldn’t stun the Top 10 Crusaders as the Saxons season came to an end in the first round last season.

“I think given some circumstances I think we did pretty well,” starts Lewis on his first-year coaching Girls Basketball.  “New coach, it’s always  hard.  Especially a program that has been winning for a long-time, we lose a lot of talent but we made it to the playoffs.  We played pretty well against Jesuit, we held them to their third lowest they’ve scored all year.  We just offensively couldn’t find anything.”

For the girls, it was different expectations walking into the gym last year going from McWilliams to Lewis was a strange turnaround as they made the transition from one coaching staff to another.

“We had a lot of seniors last year and I think that really helped us kind of have that leadership in the upperclass(men), but they all left so I think we have a really young team,” starts Gretchen Olson.  “But last year really helped us to gain that confidence that we can compete with those big teams and we have a lot of young talent that I think is going to be really good this year.”

Adrian Lewis (with beard) explain a concept during practice Monday afternoon (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Hilary James, who was a then-freshman guard for the team last season, was uncertain what would happen when she came to the High School ranks.  But now her, Olson and Victoria Stafford are going to be the big names for the South Salem squad this season.

“It was definitely different.  I was just coming in as a freshman, so not knowing what the experience would be like.  But it was a great experience, but it was like a building year so I think we’re going to be much better this year,” said James, who was a Second-Team All-Conference Selection as a freshman.  “Just building on what we did last year.”

This upcoming season, Lewis wants to speed their game a bit compare to their slower pace that they played at last season.

And by speeding it up, Lewis means pressing and pushing tempo as he wants to put up 70 shots a game.  But that would mean a lot of conditioning to work on their endurance to make sure they can get the system down for their first game of the season on November 30 versus South Eugene at home.

“So we’ve been working a lot on conditioning, really tempo.  We’ve got a motto, ‘Race and Pace’ and so that’s kind of our motto for this year and we’re just trying to run on teams and trying to get those easy buckets.  We’re going to be pressing a lot, we’re going to be a fast young team.  It’s going to be exciting to watch.”

And with 10 girls that can go, it’ll could look a lot like hockey shifts every few minutes to bring in fresh legs to keep that pressure and tempo going throughout the whole game when the games begin here at the end of next week.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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