By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– Some would say it’s just Summer Basketball. But Gervais’ celebration after their 38-36 win over Scio Wednesday evening was justifiable.
It’s been nearly a year since their last win and since the Winter of 2018 since their last regular season win. Nearly a 30-game skid.
So Summer Ball, a time for improvement, you could say the win is improvement in ways of confidence for a young team looking to snap their regular season losing streak this Winter in the Yellow and Blue Gym.
But, the win was almost not to be however.
After Alex Kalugin’s lay-in to tie the game up at nine the sauna-like hotbox that was the Cougars Gym with outside temperatures nearing the hundoburger 100-degrees, the Loggers quickly turned the 9-all game into a 16-9 lead during the running clock first half.
Scio, who’s replacing five seniors from last seasons squad, will look to Garrett Workinger as the work horse again with guys like Anthony Harper, Blake Brown returning in the winter with a strong core of younger guys around them.
“That’s what summer league is all about, getting a lot of guys minutes on Varsity so they won’t be shell-shocked for the season. I think we got a good core coming in, I think we can build them up,” said Workinger, who admits there’s going to be a challenge to replace those five graduates this season.
Gervais slowly chipped away at the lead and took a 24-20 lead into the halftime break before extending their lead to 36-28 during the second half.
“It’s good, we shorten the rotations down in the second half. Everyone did play in the game, that’s my goal and that should be the goal for every coach in summer league so we can see what we got,” said Cougar Head Coach Ben Schultz. “They responded well and I think come season time, it’s going to be shorten up a little bit more but we’ll see how it goes.”
As Schultz’ stragety of tightening up the rotation occurred, so did the score.
After Xaiver Ramon pushed the Gervais lead to 37-30, the strong defense by the Loggers led to Garrett Young and Workinger to cut the lead to three with a minute to go. Eventually Scio got it to within one with 14.8 seconds remaining in the game after Brown split a pair of free throws to make it 37-36 Cougars.
Workringer, who scored nine points in the 38-36 defeat, said it’s not just good for them as a young team but with him as a leader. Showing the ability that he could take over when he needed too like he did late in Wednesday’s game.
“It’s good experience being in close games, these guys don’t play AAU or anything like that so they might maybe play 50 basketball games in their entire lives,” said Workinger. “So getting these close games is good for me as a leader because it’s my senior year so I have to get the practice keeping guys up when they’re down.”
Gervais got one more point off a free throw thanks to Daniel Hernandez splitting a pair of free throws with 11.6 seconds remaining, but there was one more chance for the Loggers to win it down two.
And as Scio went down the court, they launched a three-pointer. No good. They let off another shot. No good as Ramon nabbed the rebound to seal the win.
Gervais, who picked up that nice confidence boosting summer basketball win, were reminding by their Head Coach that it’s only summer league with a smile. The Cougars had a six-game winning streak last summer before going 0-23 this past regular season.
“This just builds everything for the program. It really does,” “Now they see that not only JV can win, Varsity is starting to win too. It keeps the guys…moral was down, ‘oh we lost again. Oh this and that’, now we won. So now we’re going to have guys more into it.”
It’s a mentality thing as the second week of the Summer Basketball season reaches its conclusion here in a few weeks that they can build upon entering the Winter Regular Season.