Crusaders Preparing For Another Year

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

SALEM, Ore.—As awesome as it was for the Salem Academy Boys Basketball team, it was a stressful time as well playing in a global pandemic.

Questions were there from the biggest-to-littlest of details as they eventually got onto the court and brought home the 2A State Title in the six-week season that they ultimately played this past Spring.

“We were literally forced to take it one-day-at-a-time last year.  You didn’t know if your opponent’s going to be able to play, are we going to be able to play?  How many games are we going to have this season once you first get that number established and try to find games,” described Head Coach Ben Brown.  “Having to play clear in Tillamook and trying to get a conference schedule together.  There was so much you’re focusing on that winning a championship wasn’t one of them. 

“It was ‘can we get practices in for these guys?  Can we get games?  Is there going to be some structure to it and that was kind of my focus was can I make this a great year for them so they can say at least they said they had a basketball season.”

As unique as it was, they did try their hand facing 6A schools, splitting with McKay and South Salem.  Picked up wins against 4A’s Tillamook and 3A’s Dayton in their 14-1 season where they wheeled off 13-straight wins after their 58-50 defeat to the Saxons on May 19.

Head Coach Ben Brown (white shirt) explaining a drill during Friday afternoon’s practice as the Crusaders went 13-1 in the short-season in the Spring (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

The seniors like Bennet Bos and John Bennett lead the standard through the craziness of the Spring as the young guys look to carry that moment over to this Winter.

“They set a high-standard for us, so we just need to follow in their footsteps.  We just have to take it one game at a time and focus on the games and just get ready for the next one and ready to win,” Jackson Olgesby said. “They worked us hard and got us ready for this year.”

The Oglesby Twins of Jaren and Jackson will step up for Salem Academy.  Jaren was starting in the two-spot for Brown and is expected to improve with his established shooting and ball handling skills.  Brother Jackson played behind Bennett and will be expected to take Bennett’s spot at Forward this season, both are at least six-four in height. 

Chase Brown will be the defensive vocal point for the Salem Academy defense and the older Brown is very high on their point guard in John Pass who will be a senior this season for the Crusaders.

“Johnny Pass, our starting point guard, had to run the show for the first time as a point guard and was the man last year.  He was thrown to the wolves and he did a great job.  This year I’m excited for him,” Ben Brown said.  “We’re just trying to get ready in the next eight practice days to prepare for the Capital City Tournament.”

The Capital City Tournament will be stacked with teams locally from 4A-6A, plus some National teams like Rancho Christian of California, Cane Ridge from Tennessee and Mountain Pointe from Arizona.

For Brown, he has hisSalem Academy team going to South Salem again for a jamboree to start the season before jumping into Tri-River Conference play December 9 and 10 with Santiam and Gervais.  All fine-tuning for the CCC-Tournament that starts on December 17 and runs through December 22 at Willamette University.

The Crusaders will bounce back with their annual Crusader Invitational Tournament going into New Years before returning to TRC-play on January 5 with Culver.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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