Sports

Hoopsters will stand tall in Metro

New boys basketball coach Scott Orness knows what’s ahead for his team.

“Metro is possibly the toughest league in the state in basketball,” he said. “But I see it as an opportunity, not something to dread.

“With the quality of the players coming back and our senior leadership, I can see great things for this team.”

The Spartans have plenty of the “senior leadership” Orness emphasized. Four of them – 6-3 forward Teddy Picha, 6-2 guard Adam Brenneman, 6-1 guard Travis Guterson and 6-0 guard Mike Botefuhr – accumulated significant varsity time last year. The fifth, forward Simon Pollack, played both varsity and JV last year and is a seasoned rebounder.

The top seven also includes 5-11 junior guard Henry Guterson – another varsity returner – and 6-3 junior forward Spencer Evans, who played JV last year.

The rest of the 12-man roster includes 5-8 junior guard Kevin Hebner, 5-10 junior guard Jake Kanev, 6-0 junior guard Pat Fiander, 6-6 sophomore center Schuyler Boone and 6-2 guard/forward Joe Picha.

Another aspect of senior leadership comes from Orness’ assistant coach, his father Bruce. The elder Orness was head man at Franklin Pierce for 29 years before retiring.

“He gave me my love for the game,” said Orness, who describes himself as a “greenhorn” after one season at the helm of the Franklin Pierce program and two more years as an assistant coach. “He’ll commute from Puyallup to be a voice in my ear, a coach coaching the coach.”

At a recent team bonding party – which included pizza and viewing of the movie “Hoosiers” – Orness and his players laid out three primary season goals:

* Play great team defense;

* Be disciplined offensively;

* Take care of the basketball.

That sounds almost like Orness’ curriculum vitae as a playmaking guard at Rogers High School in Puyallup.

“I was the leading scorer when I was in the ninth grade, averaging over 20 points a game,” he explained. “I went from that to taking two or three shots a game in high school. So I had to suck up a little pride to play defense and pass.”

The team is likely to take on a great deal of its coach’s mentality.

“We’re guard overloaded,” he said. “So we’ll have to handle the ball well, play smart and disciplined. We’ll push the ball and try to score on fast breaks. But if the break isn’t there, we’ll have the discipline not to force something.

“I think we’ll surprise some teams.”

Following today’s Olympic Jamboree, the team opens the regular season on Tuesday by hosting North Kitsap. Tipoff time is 7:00 p.m.

The Spartans begin Metro League play on Friday with a home game against West Seattle at 5:30 p.m.

The early start is due to the Metro League practice of playing combined boys/girls games on Fridays. Consequently, the JVs play at 3:45, with the Spartan girls taking on the Indians in the 7 p.m. nightcap.

Junior Varsity

Coach Keith Kirkwood has what he terms “a guard-rich environment” as he takes over the JV team, though he has three players 6-3 or taller.

He also has something of a dilemma.

“I have twelve players who can all play well,” he said. “So it’s hard to determine who will start, even who will be in an eight- or nine-man rotation.

“But that gives me a lot of options. I can go small and quick, or big, or run a lot because of our depth. And the varsity will probably swing one or two players down each game, so we’re even deeper.

“We’re carrying four juniors, so we’re bigger and stronger than we’ve been in previous years. That gives us more maturity on the floor.”

The juniors include 5-8 guard Andy Hebner and the team’s three tallest players: 6-3 Seth Jacobson, 6-4 Ross Maloney and 6-4 Landon Winget.

Eight sophomores compose the remainder of the roster. They are 5-11 guard Tyler Bural, 5-8 guard Dan Canfield, 5-10 guard Bill Kirkwood, 5-9 guard Adam Knappe, 5-11 guard Mark Korsak, 6-0 forward Peter Oden, 5-10 forward Chad Tonge and 5-11 guard Zac Townsend.

“It’s a great, hard-working group of guys,” Kirkwood said. “They’re a lot of fun to be around.

“I have no gauge of the Metro League at this point. Our goal is to win the games we should and be competitive in the tight games.”

C Team

New coach Chris White welcomes 13 players to this year’s C team.

“We have a good mix,” he said. “We have two solid centers who are tall and very athletic, and a lot of guards. As a counselor I’m proud that the team as a whole has a 3.5 grade point average. That shows their strong work ethic.”

The team has five sophomores: 5-11 guard Eric Baker, 5-11 forward Andrew Chavanu, 5-7 forward Jeries Eady, 5-10 forward Mike Lubovich and 6-2 forward Eddie Pasquale.

Both of the centers – 6-2 Logan Best and 6-3 forward Zack Tucker Gangnes – are freshmen. Other freshmen include 5-11 forward Cody Bludorn, 5-5 guard Sean Callahan, 5-6 guard John Grue, 5-9 guard Grant Leslie, 5-6 guard Chase Sandbloom and 5-7 guard David Vander Hoek.

The team opens play on Friday at West Seattle, with the home opener the following Tuesday against Eastside Catholic at 5:00 in the main gym, the site of seven of the nine home games. While most of the 18-game schedule is against Metro League rivals, the team also plays home-and-home games against Port Angeles, Sequim and North Mason.

“I’m very upbeat, especially for this being my first season,” White said. “The future of Spartan basketball looks pretty bright.”

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