Though Reedsport has a handful of basketball banners hanging over Butch Thompson Court, lately the Brave has been known for its baseball and football teams and hadn’t seen postseason hoops play until this season.
But a wave of talent in the boys team pushed the Brave to the playoffs, while the girls worked through a season that will soon be forgotten.
Sunday, though, five Reedsport players — two girls and three boys — took the court at the 2018 Bay Area Sportsman’s Association Big Mike South Coast All-Star Game at Prosper Hall on the campus of Southwestern Oregon Community College.
“I think it just kind of grows the program,” Brave senior Marc Chaney said. “We’re known as a small school and we’re known for playing baseball. I think it’s just good we can get some recognition for our basketball program and get some younger kids.
For the boys, it simply shows the steady rise of the program. Last year, Tyreece Gardner and Chaney played, and this year they were joined by fellow senior Korde Parmenter. Gardner and Chaney teamed up on the Blue team, with Cory Stover of Marshfield and Josh Engdahl and Jack Lehnherr of Pacific, among others, and lost to Parmenter’s Red Team 81-77.
But also guys are graduating. Reedsport will retain its interior size, but its ball-handlers are departing. It will usher in a new era of Reedsport basketball after three years of the prior regime.
“Our guards are graduating so it’s the younger guys that have to step up and say, ‘Hey, it’s our team now,’ basically, and just step up,” Chaney said.
During the all-star game, Parmenter had six points, Gardner had five and Chaney had two. Gardner showed a new element of the boys game that just isn’t around in the high school games much: playing above the rim.
In warmups, players were routinely dunking, or at least giving good attempts while snapping the rim, and skying high for rebounds or blocks. Stover rattled in a dunk in the second half, and John Morrill-Keeler of Pacific used every bit of his 6-foot-9 frame. It was a different kind of basketball game.
“It’s just so much more competitive,” Chaney said. “Even the guard play — you take someone off the dribble and there’s help — two, three guys just standing there. In a normal game you don’t have that kind of stuff.”
For the girls, it’s a chance to play with the top players in the area. It was a common idea that playing with everyone who knows how to play is both harder and easier.
Easier because everyone knows the language of basketball. Everyone knows what a 1-2-2 press is or what a 2-3 zone is. And, ultimately, it’s just basketball.
But it’s harder because everyone knows what they’re doing. Somehow, though, that raises the level of every players on the floor. There are no weak links, just good options.
“Everybody knows exactly what’s going on and how to play, so it’s way more intense,” Reedsport’s Gabby Clark said. “It’s way more fun. I feel like I play better on a better team.”
Clark finished Sunday with seven points and six rebounds, four of which were offensive, and a steal. Clark, though, is a senior and has played her last game for Reedsport.
“It was awesome,” Clark said of the experience. “This got to be my last game instead of the other game that we played. It was really fun.”
Clark said it was “funny” playing against sophomore teammate Makenzie Seeley.
“I always wanted to pass it to her,” Clark said. “I think I did one time, or tried to. Oh well.”
Seeley will return for two more seasons. Seeley scored two points for the victorious Team Red in a 66-62 game.
Though the girls program was down this season, having two of its players in the South Coast All-Star Game is a good sign for the health of the program. And because one is a sophomore, there could be more players coming who are younger. Perhaps others want to play on that Sunday, too.
“It starts the program,” Chaney said. “Hopefully the girls team can get some younger girls and (head coach Patrick) McKnight will work with them, make them better in the offseason so that we can have a good team. Same with the boys, too.”