By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.—Walking into the McKay Girls Basketball program, new Head Coach Jim White knew his hands were going to be full in building a Lady Scots program that won four games in the last four seasons. Of those four wins, three came in the 2015-2016 season while the last came the next season off a forfeit.
But as he takes on the challenge of trying to build up a McKay program that five years ago were in the playoffs, White knows that he has to bring together several athletes together and play as a team for when they tip it off against North Salem on November 30.
“Yeah it’s a challenge, but there’s pieces in this program that can be worked on. The biggest challenge is that they don’t know how to play as a team, that’s the biggest thing I’ve seen,” said White. “We’ve got some talent, it’s just honing that in so that they can play together as one.
“The challenges is to getting them to play together as one. They’re just not use to sharing the ball, it’s like one person gets the ball and they were telling me about that and when we did our first scrimmage…I can see what they are talking about. So my biggest challenge is getting them to play team ball and trusting what we want them to do.”
That means being patient with the ball on offense, but White admits that the kids are teachable as throughout Wednesday’s practice he was stopping drills to walk a kid through where to go to on the perimeter and walking kids through their free throw mechanics at the end of practice. White also was answering questions that his athlete’s were asking as they try to understand what their new coach is asking of them.
“They’re so organized, everyday we’re doing something new and we’re working hard. Like our drill (at the end of practice) with our free throws and he’ll help us with our form and everything,” said Danica Cheremnov. “It’s really making sure that we’re doing the best that we can do even if it’s just the little things.”
Cheremnov is one of the returners from last years squad that found themselves in games during the first half or so before fading during the second half as a combination of things tangled McKay up along the way.
Three of their losses came way of ten points or less, one of them was a one-point overtime loss to Gresham to close out the Century/Hillsboro Holiday Tournament on December 29, 2017 44-43. It one of four 40-point games that the Lady Scots had last season, more than they had the three-years before combined (one in that span).
Leva Mike, another returner with the Scots this season, talked about the frustrations of this 45-game winning streak and seeing them being so close of winning a game. The overtime game, the ten-point loss to Jefferson, the six-point loss to Aloha. Games like South Salem at the end of the season when they led 29-24 at halftime after a Arya Allen basket and a half-court shot by Diana Cruz before falling to the Saxons.
“I think what happened in those games, these girls don’t know how to win. They think it’ll come easy as long as their playing but they need to work hard throughout the whole game, everyone needs to work hard throughout the game,” Mike describes the frustration and how they could build from it this season. “We need to have a strong bench, strong supporting people here to cheer us on. We just need to push through the whole entire game, play hard every minute.”
Allen and Cruz return this season along with Anita Lao, Cheyenne Allmond and Bailey Bryant to name a few. Post Justine Coburn returns too, but the Senior McKay athlete won’t be physically able to play until maybe January as she returns from injury.
With the season a week-and-a-half away, the Scots will open the season at the Vikings before traveling to Reynolds the following Tuesday. Their home opener is December 7 when they host Jefferson of Portland.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald