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Ashley Strain

Bandon's Ashley Strain drives to the hoop during the Tigers' win over Pacific on Tuesday. 

After their introduction to coach Jordan Sammons in his debut season as Bandon girls basketball coach last year, several of the players fell in love with the sport enough to become gym rats.

“Kylie (Lakey), Ashley (Strain) and Naomi (Martin) basically lived in the gym in the offseason,” Sammons said after Bandon’s 45-33 win over visiting Pacific on Tuesday. “Their offseason work was huge.”

The rest of the team has followed suit.

“We’ve improved so much,” Lakey said. “It’s going to be a good season.”

The Tigers are 2-2, with a win over Days Creek (34-26) and losses to Glide (34-28) and Class 3A St. Mary’s (52-28).

After the Tigers lost 12 of their first 13 games last year, including setbacks by 22 and 39 points against Glide, this year has been a marked improvement. Bandon was only a point down to the Wildcats in the final two minutes last week before Glide ultimately won.

Sammons would love to see his team cut down on its turnovers — Bandon made 50 against Pacific’s pressure defense while forcing 40 — but the offense is improving like the defense obviously has.

“We haven’t had a lot of experience being in tight games,” Sammons said. “We’re getting there.

“They’re excited and working hard.”

And they are enjoying playing together.

“I like this group of girls,” Lakey said. “We have so much energy and such a bond. We push each other so well.”

Bandon has made big strides in its offense. Lakey led the way Tuesday, hitting all seven of her shots and scoring 14 points. Martin had three 3-pointers and scored 11 and Turner had eight points and 14 rebounds, along with eight steals.

Ashley Strain and Nikki Lakey had five points each Tuesday. Strain had 15 against Days Creek and Kortney Ferreri also has been effective.

The Tigers will be tested with Class 3A foes South Umpqua (Friday) and Brookings-Harbor (Tuesday) next up.

So far, the Tigers are excited.

“It’s been good,” Turner said.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.