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WINTER SPORTS PREVIEW | Season promises big showing from BHS boys basketball
Even as most of us finally rouse ourselves from turkey comas and feel the harsh effects of the yearly food hangover that inevitably follows Thanksgiving, the Bainbridge High varsity boys basketball team will be hard at work on the court preparing for their first game of the season.
Their first test comes at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30 against Sumner High School.
Greater challenges await in mid-December, with the start of league play.
“The Metro League is the toughest and most talented boys basketball league in the state, regardless of classification,” said Spartan Head Coach Scott Orness.
“Everyone is tough. You don’t get any nights off,” he said.
The team has had little time to get into gear for the season. Three days of intense tryouts only just ended Wednesday, Nov. 20, and last year’s record left fans with high expectations.
“We return a battle-tested group who won 11 games and made it to the SeaKing District Tournament with eight sophomores last year,” Orness said. “[That’s] including three sophomore starters.”
Expect to see some thicker Spartans in the thick of things this year.
“Our off-season strength program has put 20-plus pounds on most of our players and they are ready to make some noise in the Metro this season,” Orness added.
BHS senior Joey Blacker and juniors Oskar Dieterich, Blake Swanson and Trent Schulte, the returning captain of last year’s team, are among the star returning players.
“All four of these guys started last year and will be major contributors,” Orness said.
Great things are also expected from juniors Grant Klausen and Riley Irish, both returning varsity players.
Newcomers to watch on the varsity team are juniors Dawson Gonwick, Jake Philby and Ben Beatie, Orness said.
A swathe of talented underclassmen turned out for tryouts, promising quality starting players for years to come.
Among the junior players, Orness said he was very impressed with the talent shown by the freshmen players. He pointed out Lyle Terry and Sawyer Conrad as players to watch in the future.
“Basketball is a fast up-tempo game where you get to see the best athletes in each community,” Orness said. “The game has drastically changed in the past 15 years and continues to evolve. Players are getting bigger and faster and more skilled.”
Amidst some cultural concern that younger athletes are steering away from traditional sports like baseball, football and basketball and gravitating to newer alternative competition like lacrosse, soccer and swimming, Orness said that the talent pool on Bainbridge has never been better for basketball.
“Basketball has great energy and momentum right now on Bainbridge,” he said. “All the way down through the younger elementary ages.”
Orness summed up his overall coaching philosophy with the quickness Spartan fans hope to see on the hardwood.
“We base our program off of three words,” he said. “Commitment, character and community. We believe there is no secret formula to success. Success only comes with hard work and we must be committed as coaches and players to the good of the team.”
Regardless of any particular game’s outcome, Orness said basketball teaches young athletes lessons that they can carry through life.
“Basketball is a game and it is fun,” he said.
“However, it is the best classroom to learn about our strengths and weaknesses as people. Through the ups and downs of a season and through playing four years in the program, we hope that boys become men and take the lessons they learned from coaches and teammates into their lives as adults,” Orness said.
Orness named Rainier Beach, O’Dea, Eastside Catholic and Franklin High as the teams to beat this year.
The Spartans play their first home game at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3 against North Kitsap High.