By Jeremy McDonald
AURORA, Ore.– North Marion’s Juan Alvarez was taking some extra shots during the first two water breaks of Monday evening’s practice. Working on his craft as the Huskies went to work on Day 6 of the 2021-2022 season with the first game on the horizon.
“I’m just trying to do my best to help the team win and right now we need every game to put in their 110, 110 (percent) effort. So I’m just trying to help the team,” Alvarez said.
North Marion ended the six-week Spring season winning four of their last five games after a slow 1-4 start. Coming off the heels of a 20-5 season the year before that saw their run towards a possible 4A State Title appearance cut short to the Coronavirus Pandemic, the Huskies are looking to build off of how their Spring ended in hopes to return to the Final Site this year.
“It was good. I mean we had replaced a lot of guys that saw the court two years ago when we got shut down on the first day of the Final Eight. So, we had guys who saw a lot of action. They struggled at the beginning with limited practice,” said eighth-year Head Coach Tully Wagner. “We started to get the rhythm and we were able to come together as a team and I thought we were playing really good basketball towards the end of the season.”
They return seven athletes who saw Varsity minutes during the 5-5 season. Returning athletes like Alvarez, Evan Holman, Kaden Henderson and Luke Frolov to the Varsity court while Cole Hammack, Marcus Ledesma and Alexis Ramos were getting some Varsity reps in practice on Monday.
“We got a lot of returnees and we’re hoping to make the playoffs and go deep this year. Win league, all that. We’re super physical and fast and I think we’ll be good,” Holman said. “We got a tough preseason schedule, but I’m looking towards it. It’s going to help us get us prepared for the league, postseason and it’ll help us with our game.”
North Marion has Cascade scheduled to start the season in December while having two other Oregon West teams in Stayton and rival-Woodburn on December 7 and 9. They’ll play Banks, Valley Catholic and Seaside from the Cowapa League as well as Marist Catholic for the bulk of their preseason slate in hopes to prepare them for the Tri-Valley Conference schedule.
“Our non-conference every year we try to play the best competition that we can find so we know what we’re going to see going into the league season and hopefully when we get into the playoffs and the Final Eight,” Wagner said. “The Oregon West teams and we also play a lot of the Cowapa teams like Seaside and Banks. We just know we’re seeing the best teams in the State and that’s a positive thing for us.”
The Huskies open the season in Turner against Cascade on December 1 at 7pm before hosting Marist Catholic December 3, also a 7pm tip-off.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald