Tough defense, up-tempo plan for Spartans

Grant Leslie (right) battles for a rebound against North Kitsap last season - Review file photo
Grant Leslie (right) battles for a rebound against North Kitsap last season
— image credit: Review file photo

Coach Scott Orness looks for big things out of his first group of four-year players.

This is the year for the Spartans, says coach Scott Orness of the 2004 Bainbridge boys varsity basketball.

With six players returning, including three starters, the fourth-year coach has implemented an aggressive defensive scheme and plans to use all his players.

“Even though we have only three seniors, we have a lot of guys with a lot of experience and our confidence is high,” Orness said. “I see us competing for the top three teams in our division, with Seattle Prep and O’Dea.”

The Spartan boys plan to force the tempo with full-court pressure, take advantage of open looks and pull up to run the offense when the open basket is not there.

Asked what the defensive approach is called, Orness deadpans: “Organized chaos.”

“Our strengths are leadership and experience,” he said. “Overall, we have great depth and can play 12 guys.”

He admits possible weaknesses could come from the nature of the depth: “Lack of depth to our height – if we get into foul trouble with our bigs, we don’t have a lot of size to go to.”

Orness emphasizes an up-tempo game this year, driven by end-to-end defensive pressure, from tip off to the final horn. His intention is to have the Spartans within two or three baskets of any opponent down the stretch.

Key to that approach is taking care of the ball. Despite scouting concerns, there are certain things the team will do defensively to make other teams respond.

Providing leadership for the Spartans will be co-captains Cody Bludorn and Grant Leslie. Building on the success of the Spartan football team he captained, point guard Leslie looks to be the primary man taking care of the ball.

Also returning this year is Theo Miller at forward and center.

“You will not recognize him,” says Orness. “He’s worked so hard on his game.”

Combining an inside-outside presence are Coby Gibler at center and Jon Bruns, the shooting guard.

Opening at home Nov. 30 against Cleveland, the Spartans host two of the best teams in the tough Metro League – Rainier Beach and Seattle Prep – in quadruple-headers with the Spartan girls team on consecutive Fridays.

The non-league games of note include a road contest against Sequim on Dec. 18 and a home game against Olympic on Dec. 28.

The Tuesday games have the junior varsity, coached by Mike Florian, tipping off at 5:45 p.m. before the varsity’s 7:30 starts. The Friday four-fests begin at 3:15 p.m., with the girls and boys alternating the 6:15 and 8 p.m. start times.

“This is an exciting year for me as coach, because these are ‘my’ players,” Orness said. “This was the first group who were freshmen when I got there. They know no other program. It will pay off with having everybody on the same page.”

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