By Jeremy McDonald
South Salem has a lot of work to do entering this season and it starts Friday at Scappoose.
But the good thing is, the jamboree at Salem Academy was what they needed.
They faced 3A juggernaut in Dayton, rallying late against Ron Hop’s squad who went 2-0 in the evening as the Pirates opened the season at Oregon Episcopal in Tigard Tuesday. They were tested physically and speed wise with Salem Academy, who are looking for another deep playoff run in their second year in 2A with their season starting next Thursday at Santiam in Mill City.
All good test for when they head back to practice Thursday to improve upon with the new faces on the Saxons squad this Winter.
“We have a lot of young guys, very talented young guys and we want them to believe in each other,” starts Head Coach Travis Brown. “Ron has a program that has stand the test of time. They’ve won five, six State Championships and he has his great youth program going so those kids come in knowing the system and doing a great job.
“My brother (Ben Brown) team, he has size and should be there (at the end of the year). They’re two great team’s and we’re finding out who we are. We got three freshmen who did a great job tonight and they’re learning.”
Ty Martinez, Josh Feik and Keplan Barram are the three freshmen on Varsity. For Brown, he had forty freshmen come out and try-out for the program this Winter with the trio of Martinez, Feik and Barram sticking out the most to Brown to bring them up to the Varsity-level.
“We got talent across the board as freshmen. We got three or four on JV and 17 on freshmen. Those three that stood out to me in open gyms and I think they have a lot of good things coming as freshmen,” Brown said. “That’s why we want them with us. Size, we’re all the same size through the program. We got height coming.”
The biggest takeaways for the Saxons moving in Thursday’s practice and entering their season from the jamboree will be their defensive rotations and fine tuning their new offense with Friday’s game on the horizon.
“We can improve in a lot of different ways. Our defensive rotations weren’t very good. Ball movement and offense…we had to change our offense,” Brown starts. “Two years ago, we ran more of a Triangle offense and now we’re running more of a guard (offense). We have guards, we sub guards. We’re running more of a five-out rotation.
“We just got to get some confidence hitting down shots. We’re just tailoring this program for the future. I don’t like saying rebuilding year, but we’re building for Saxons-brand of basketball.”
The Saxons are on the road a lot in December with their first home game not until January 8 against Grants Pass. They travel to Scappoose (December 3) and South Eugene (December 10) to start the year. The Capital City Classic between December 17 and 22 is sort of a home slate of sorts at Willamette University before they travel to Medford for the Medford Abby’s Tournament December 28-30 to close out 2021.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald