Huskies hoopsters finish tough summer season

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

After spending most of the summer season developing a different approach to the game, the Husky boys varsity basketball team finished the summer season in solid command of the court.

The Huskies played 41 games over the summer, mostly in tournaments. On a couple of evenings, they played two games in a small summer league.

They lost to Stayton by only a single point. Stayton defeated the Huskies twice during the regular season earlier this year, and the Huskies fell from the top of the league unable to win many games after the Stayton loss.

The Huskies ended up 17-24, Coach Tim Little said. The Huskies played tournaments in a Eugene league then traveled to Wilsonville going 2-3 in a tournament with mostly 3A schools.

They finished 3-3 in a 32-team tournament at Central High School then played 10 games in three days at a tournament at Oregon State University.

“That was probably our turning point,” Little said. “The kids were just worn out.”

They played a number of 4A teams, like South Eugene, Medford and Crook County, and “we played fairly well,” Little said. They finished 3-7, and although the players weren’t happy with the results, Little was.

The team’s approach to basketball came together there, and at Seaside, the last tournament of the year, the Huskies shined.

The players understood their roles and strengths, Little said. “At Seaside we were great.”

The Huskies faced off against 5A Washington teams and Seaside.

They lost their first two, then “we basically won the rest of them,” Little said. They played 10 games that weekend.

“At the end of the weekend, we couldn’t find anybody to play,” Little said. His team was physical and played stellar defense. Other teams at the tournament, which also served as a kind of camp, started nicknaming Sweet Home players. Ryan Elliott became “the Headache” for opponents.

“We earned respect,” Little said, and the team saw the way it will play next year, a marathon style that will slowly grind down opponents on offense, “one stop at a time.”

“It was just a great ending, positive; and their excited about next year,” Little said.

This summer, the team’s personnel shifted in and out depending on other activities, Little said, but the whole team will probably be under 6’1″ next year.

The team is small and quick, Little said. It is more team-oriented in approach. They won’t drive up large scores, but instead, they will hold their opponents to low scores. The Huskies have great ball pressure, even when their outsized by seven or eight inches.

“Our makeup is a lot of patience and a lot of penetration, bringing down their defense with our patience and using our quickness and speed,” Little said. The Huskies will mix up their defense to keep opponents off balance.

The team at Seaside included returning seniors Cody Shipp, Elliott and Charlie Fitzsimons. All are returning with at least some varsity experience. Shipp handled the ball frequently at point last year and will probably be a three-year letterman.

Seniors Brandon Smith and Tim Faulconer earned letters last year swinging up from junior varsity.

The summer team also turned to sophomores Colton Emmert and Gabe Kauffman, who both played last season in the Husky program. Emmert also played at OSU.

Juniors Brandon Weist, Ricky Worley and Nathan Whitfield rounded out the Seaside team. Weist will probably be the Huskies’ tallest player.

Cascade will be on the top of the list to win the Capital Conference next year, Little said. Cascade returns good players, including a sophomore who was a unanimous first-team pick during regular season. Cascade lost to Sheldon in the semi-finals last season.

Stayton will do well, Little said, and even Molalla played well this summer.

North Marion is huge, Little said. “But they’re down. They’re missing a couple of guards.”

Little didn’t see Sisters play this summer.

The Huskies would like to take out some revenge against Stayton this year, Little said. “Every league game we go into that’s the goal, but that would be nice.”

The highlight of the summer season was Seaside, Little said. “We were by far the team that executed the best.”