With the league opener against Reedsport the next day, Jordan Sammons didn’t want to work his Bandon girls basketball team too hard at practice last Thursday. He planned to just walk through some things, maybe work up a sweat and get out, leaving his players some rest before the next night’s game.
But they brought an unexpected energy to the gym and were so focused, they didn’t leave for another 30 minutes after the planned practice had completed. They kept playing hard, diving for loose balls and learning from their young coach. Sammons said it was the best practice of the season and has him excited for what the Bandon girls basketball program can build into.
“The girls brought the intensity,” Sammons said. “I don’t think the coaches ever said, ‘Hey, let’s pick it up.’ They were diving for loose balls, our JV are trapping our varsity girls. Our varsity girls are trapping our JV girls. All around it was so competitive. Nobody took it easy.”
It was that energy, Sammons said, that Bandon rode like a wave through Friday’s game, a 39-31 win over Reedsport. But it’s also a lesson. Success in games doesn’t come from work in practice, as Sammons has been preaching all season.
“If we bust our butt in practice, the games will be easier,” Sammons said. “We’re working super hard in practice, but then we get to games (and) we’re able to see where our opportunities are to attack because we’re busting our butt in practice, getting more reps.”
Sammons has been working to bring an inexperienced Tigers group up to speed. Last Friday was an indication that the Tigers are on their collective way.
For instance, Bandon’s Kortney Ferreri took the Tigers’ first possession of the game straight to the rim and drew a foul. It might not seem like much, but earlier in the season the Tigers shied away from those situations. Ferreri led the Tigers with 15 points Friday night.
“The biggest area of growth is just starting to understand basketball,” Sammons said. “We always come out and play hard. There’ve been a few games where the effort wasn’t where we wanted it, but overall for the most part of the season we’ve played extremely hard. But now we’re starting to understand basketball. Understanding when to drive, we gotta box out, we gotta rebound, all the aspects that comes along with that effort.”
Some of that understanding was on display Friday. Kylie Lakey wasn’t afraid to shoot open jump shots, and she made five of them and had 11 points. Kennedy Turner consistently chases down rebounds and tries to muscle opposing rebounders out of the way, so she can grab it.
“I loved their aggression,” Sammons said. “We didn’t just run into the motion of the offense, ‘Oh, I have pass it here. No, that girl’s moving on the pass fake so I’m gonna go by her and make the layup.’ We did it. We attacked.”
The Tigers weren't able to carry the momentum into Tuesday's game at Gold Beach, traditionally one of the league's powers and a veteran squad. The Panthers beat the Tigers 56-23, with Lakey and Ferreri scoring five points each to lead Bandon.
The Tigers will try to get back on track Friday, when they host Toledo. Next week, they visit Waldport on Tuesday before finishing the first round of league play at Myrtle Point. The Bobcats and Gold Beach are the early league leaders at 2-0.