By Jeremy McDonald
TURNER, Ore.– Last year while in the Clarke Cochrane Christmas Classic in Ketchikan, Alaska, Cascade’s Jake Bertsch and Jacob Winstead were involved with a sideline picture memorable with the Cougar basketball team.
It started with a montage of the bench celebrations on social media.
“Me and Jacob Winstead were trying to think of some more things to do on the bench. Then we watched a montage of the best bench celebrations and we found that one,” said Bertsch.
What ended up was Bertsch standing, posing on Winstead in a surfer pose during one of their games in the Last Frontier State in Alaska.
Cascade went 18-7 and 8-4 in a tough Oregon West Conference in 2019 and were a few plays shy of reaching the 4A Final Site in Forest Grove, the latter was later canceled due to the Coronavirus Pandemic a few days after their 69-68 defeat to Klamath Union in Klamath Falls.
The surfer posed was just part of use Bertsch is. He came off the bench for the Cougars during his Junior Season as part of the deepest bench in 4A, and was one of the crucial ball-defenders for the Cascade defense during the season. Getting crazy on the bench, cheering on his teammates while taking pride in his defensive game in a world of offensive tempo basketball.
Bertsch admits he has always been a team-first dude, working hard for his minutes and has looked at his defense as something he works hard on to get solid minutes come gameday.
“It’s really important to me because our coaching staff notices things like that so I’m trying to show them I bought in and I’m not here for myself,” Bertsch starts. “The game being how it is right now teams need a defensive guy more than ever. There are kids who can drop 30 points on any given night in our league so I really think I have accepted the role of being one of the boy’s coach Molan looks to, to answer for that.
“Also having guys like Kellen Sande, Carson Molan, and Dom(inic) Ball, is a really huge advantage because Dom is gonna hold it down in the paint, and Carson and Kellen are very good defensive players who can guard anyone.”
The OWC was one of those leagues in recent years where defense, along with the offense, wins you games. Having to answer the RJ Veliz’ Woodburn Bulldogs and the Twin Towers Stayton had two years ago. Sweet Home, Philomath, the Bulldogs and the Eagles along with the Cougars have created one of the toughest leagues in all of Oregon.
“Our league is one of the toughest in the state. At any time, any team can get beat and we saw that slot last year. And playing Marist we left that court knowing we could beat them and that we just beat ourselves that game. We are really looking forward to a rematch when we get our season,” said Bertsch. “Marist was just so deep that you had to be ready at all times. Because everyone 1-9 can play and make a change so you can’t take any breaks while you’re in there.”
A few of the Cougs, Bertsch included, traveled out to Idaho a few weeks back. Picking up some extra reps with each other in hopes for a Spring Season in May against some quality teams.
“Those trips were awesome. We spent a lot of time with the team. I would normally go out there with Kellen and would play really good teams out there and would win. We were just playing really good team ball out there,” said Bertsch.
For Bertsch, now entering his final year in the prep realm, he’s always reverted back to who he is. A team-first guy and a defensive hustler.
“I’ve always had to be a team first guy and work a little harder for my minutes on any team I have played on. I always saw my defense as something I need to work hard on defense if I want to get solid minutes,” said Bertsch. “Our group of guys are all so close and we all are such good friends that they make it really easy to get hyped on the sideline for them.”