Let’s list some things we know about the Reedsport boys basketball team.
The Brave return all but one player from last year’s third-place Sunset Conference team, including springy guard Tyreece Gardner, smart point guard Marc Chaney and burly forwards Dallas McGill and Javier Analco.
Unfortunately, Chaney hasn’t played any basketball yet after sustaining a leg injury while quarterbacking Reedsport’s football team and is eyeing a return around Christmastime. Gardner spent most of the football season on the sideline himself with an arm injury.
We know Reedsport has played two games against a couple of good opponents and come out even. Reedsport scored 58 points at Class 1A Elkton on Nov. 29, starting the season with a good scoring output and a 22-point win to boot. Oakland spoiled Reedsport’s home opener with a strong second half to win 58-47 in a game head coach Allen Chaney admitted his squad “ran out of gas.”
Despite the early home loss, the Brave are optimistic about their chances in the difficult Sunset Conference.
“I saw some things happening, especially in that first half,” Allen Chaney said after Friday's game against the Oakers. “I think we kind of ran out of gas, but in that first half I saw some what I call maturity. I think we’ve grown and are getting better and recognizing what we need to do, and the intensity of our defense that has to be played if we’re going to be successful.”
The Brave’s roster is big and athletic. Gardner leads the way with lightning-quick speed and impressive jumping ability. In the first half Friday, Gardner cleaned up a Korde Parmenter miss on a fast break with a put-back dunk that sent the fans at Butch Thompson Court into a brief frenzy.
Add that combination with the still developing pair of big men McGill and Analco, and there’s the recipe for a good scoring offense. McGill was a force inside in terms of rebounding Friday night before fouling out in the fourth quarter, and Analco is still settling into his role.
“I saw glimpses of Javier, primarily, in that game, but Dallas too being able to do what I know they can,” Chaney said. “Obviously with their God-given size and athleticism, they should be able to produce significantly. They just have to, again as sophomores, feel comfortable exerting themselves more than last year. And I saw some glimpses of that on Friday.
Chaney was complimentary of both players, particularly Analco.
“He didn’t wind up scoring a whole bunch,” Chaney said, “but there were some times where I saw him really working hard to post up and I was really pleased with that because that’s not been what he’s shown us in that past. He looked good, he started to look aggressive.”
Perhaps the most interesting roster development has been Griffin Lavigne, a junior who didn’t play last year but has earned a spot in the starting lineup until Marc Chaney returns from injury.
Gardner functions primarily as the point guard for the time being, and Lavigne played competently off the ball on both ends of the floor. It’s created added depth for the Brave to group with Leo Voepel. When Chaney returns, the Brave will be seven deep.
“He’s doing pretty darn good,” Chaney said of Lavigne. “I’m thrilled to have him out there.”
There were a few statistical trends from Friday’s game that the coach and his team know they must address.
First, the Brave committed 16 first-half turnovers, but still managed a 10-point lead over the quality Oakers using a good defensive effort and 14-2 end-of-quarter run that put the Brave in position to win at home.
Marc Chaney’s arrival will likely help with that, but some were mental turnovers related to trying to play too fast.
Even so, Allen Chaney said that out of Reedsport’s 49 shots against the Oakers, 43 were contested. He’s going to stress passing up good shots for great shots in the coming days and weeks to hopefully produce a more efficient offense.
“We gotta learn that the first pick and roll in the offense is not the last thing we do,” he said.
Friday’s game was reminiscent of last year’s matchup in Oakland, the only difference being Oakland getting to a big lead early that Reedsport chipped last year instead of the opposite this year.
“I thought that we played really good defense,” Gardner said Friday night. “I think it was the first time we played good defense for at least three-and-a-half quarters. Everything felt like it was clicking in the first half.”
That’s a good starting point for a team still at only 80 percent of its full starting lineup.
“I’ve learned that they have the capacity to play at a high level,” Allen Chaney said. “It’s not about ability level, it’s about will and I thought they showed a pretty good will on Friday night. Now if we can continue improve on our — I’ll say skills but it’s not really basketball skills as it is the savvy part of the game. If we can do that — cut our turnovers down and not take so many contested shots, I think if they continue to play with that intensity and will then we should do pretty well this year.”
Reedsport hosted Mapleton on Tuesday and Friday will try to top Class 3A St. Mary's in Coquille's Winter Lake Classic for the second straight year. The Brave will face either Rogue River or Coquille on Saturday.