By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– The Sprague Boys Basketball team will be looking to play the Underdog-role this year with how little the Olympians are returning going into the 2022-23 season. They graduated eight seniors from last year’s 16-10, 6A Playoff team.
The one returner is Matt Weiner, who’s entering his senior year with Sprague, was the Olys eighth man last year and now will be turned to lead the young underdog squad this year.
“He’s going to have to step up and be the senior leader,” smiles Head Coach Jordan Graneto. “We actually have six seniors, but a lot of them played JV as a junior last year. You know we’ll see We’re kind of the team that no one knows about because no one knows who we got.”
Graneto points to the success that the Junior Varsity and Freshman teams had last season, going a combined 40-8 as sub-Varsity teams over the course of the season. But of course, it’s just a matter of getting up to speed for the Varsity game. Something that the Sprague Head Coach points to is something they’ve been working on since the Summer on and will continue to work upon these next few practices in preparation of the upcoming season.
“All these kids are coming up from the JV or freshman team. We had a pretty successful JV and freshman team last year. 22-2 and 18-6, but these next two weeks are crucial. There’s a different level of physicality, different level of speed at the Varsity-level. That’s all what we’ve been working through all Summer and this,” Graneto said.
Practice was high-pace Wednesday, Graneto even stepping in on a drill as an extra body and reliving the glory days of when he played, adding an additional spark to practice as no one wanted to lose to their coach. But for Graneto, he’s embracing the underdog role and hopes the team does too.
“The last couple of years, we’ve been one of the top teams in league, so this year will definitely be different where people will be underrating us. We’re definitely the underdogs right now in league, but I think the kids are taking to the challenge. We have a lot of talented young kids, hopefully they’ll step up,” Graneto said. “That’s the whole thing. That’s the whole thing, there’s going to be some growing pains initially, but we’re hoping by league we’ll be really competitive.”
Sprague opens the season November 30 against Century at Century before hosting Roseburg December 2. The Olympians will be one of the local teams in the Capitol City Classic at Willamette University December 16-21 before heading to McMinnville for the McMinnville Winter Classic going into the New Year. Sprague opens Central Valley Conference play January 5 at home against McNary.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald