By Jeremy McDonald
GERVAIS, Ore.– Ben Schultz put last year’s 0-24 season best:
Baptism by fire.
Yes they could’ve gone Junior Varsity and got some experience that way, but eventually the squad had to work their way back up to the Varsity-level one day even with that route.
“We went into the season telling the guys we won’t win many games, not knowing we weren’t going to win any,” chuckles Head Coach Ben Schultz of last year. “But it was Baptism by fire. We started four sophomores, now that are juniors…now they cut their teeth in that Varsity level so now they are ready.”
Brian Limage, Auggie Guido, Michael Toran are expected to have big roles for the Cougars this season as they wrapped up their Veterans Day Open Gym said Schultz.
All three have height with Toran the shortest at six-foot-two while Guido and Limage are pushing six-five to go with the shifty Xaden Ramos at guard. Ramos is entering his senior season.
Their core is also being strengthened by the return of Daniel Hernandez and Alex Kalguin, both missing last year due to transferring in-and-out of the district last year before returning to Gervais during the school year.
“They’re ready. They wanted to play badly, they couldn’t because of transfer rules and everything. They work hard, they came to open gyms,” starts Schultz. “But that Senior Leadership to anchor the guys that cut their teeth last year, it’s going to be huge.
“I don’t know how deep we’re going to go with our bench, but I’m confident that the guys that were here last year that went through the struggles that we did will be ready to do a lot better this year.”
With the season starting on November 18 and their first game not until the Vernonia Tournament December 6, there’s plenty of time to get a set lineup and bench to start the season for Schultz to retool before starting Tri-River Conference play December 16 versus Chemawa.
And for a team that was a game out of the fifth-spot for league playoffs in 2017, their final year in the 3A PacWest Conference, Schultz thinks there is potential for them to get into the league playoffs in the 2A TRC League playoffs this season.
With some teams in their league losing some key players due to graduation, the opportunity is there for them this Winter.
“Just bringing back guys, a lot of team graduated some key players too, so that helps from last year. Bringing back those guys and the transition of the other teams. That and we’re tall” said Schultz. “We’re going to compete with pushing the envelope and pushing the ball, looking to Fastbreak. Using our height to our advantage by hitting the board, hitting our big guys down low.
“Only one way to go from where we’re at is up. We’re really pushing the guys and we’re really pushing that we want to make a league playoff this year.”
Photos By Jeremy McDonald