By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.–The Salem Academy Boys Basketball team came within a missed Jaren Oglesby’s jump-shot at the buzzer in winning the 2A State Championship this past season. Falling to Tri-River Conference opposition Western Christian in a double-overtime thriller in Pendleton.
The play and the result hurt for sure, but Oglesby went back to work this Summer. Playing with the Crusader Summer League team and getting additional work in with the Run-and-Shoot travel basketball squad, improving and preparing for his senior season with Salem Academy.
“That shot, it really stuck with me. Anything short of a State Championship is a failure here and we want to win every time. We want to win a State Championship,” Oglesby said of the shot. “Last year, not winning a State Championship has motivated me to be better and (this offseason) has helped a lot, I think if you want to be good with your High School program you got to put in the work in the offseason playing against other Tournament Teams and better competition.”
Oglesby and twin brother Jackson, along with Landon Mitchell are expected to be the leaders of the squad this year as the experienced players on the roster that saw several key starters like Chase Brown and John Pass graduate. All three saw significant minutes in their State Runner-Up game as they hope to draw in the leadership traits that a Pass, a Brown and even Bennet Bos two years ago during their Covid-Championship season
“They’re great role models, they taught us how to be great teammates on-and-off the court and they were great teammates all around,” Jackson Oglesby said. “We’re missing Johnny, Landon (Iverson) and Chase and all the bigger seniors who played bigger leadership roles, it’s going to be kind of tough to fill-in their shoes, but we’re going to have to step up and take that leadership role and help out our teammates so we can get back to State this year.”
It’s a mentality. A mindset that has been a part of this program for a few years now. To embrace the challenge of being one of the targets on their backs Thirty-three kids were out at practice Tuesday evening, vying for a spot on the team. To embrace the challenges that come with being a part of the Salem Academy squad.
And with the season starting December 1 when they head to the Westside Christian Tournament with the hopes of them locking up their fifth-trip to the final site, sixth if you include the Covid-shortened season, by season’s end.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald