Each of the programs, junior varsity I and II teams each played against themselves and then the varsity squad played a game against itself. Each game lasted 20 minutes and while the score mattered to the players on the floor it was more of an opportunity for the coaches to see how the teams played in game situations with fans in attendance.
Seeing how their teams perform under pressure and what to expect for the season is important for both head coaches, Chris Schofield, girls squad, and Buell Gonzales, boys squad.
“I told the girls tonight that if they’ll push each other the way the best teams in the league will push them, they’ll make each other better,” Schofield said. “It won’t be a shock when the other teams push them that hard.”
For Gonzales, he feels his athletes are there and are ready to play they just need to work on getting their minds set to work hard.
“Tonight was exactly what I thought it would be,” he said. “The effort was there but the execution was lax. Not for the effort, but because they need to get in the mind-set that they are constantly in the game. Whether it’s pushing the ball in transition or running the floor defensively, you’re always playing and never coasting.”
Both of the coaches expressed a desire to perform well in league and take a Far West League championship trophy home for the display case, but have higher aspirations, as well: to succeed at the state level.
For the seniors — six on the girls team and seven on the boys team — it’s a final chance to bring home the hardware.
“State championship,” boys team senior Calvin Watwood said when asked what he wanted this season. “The goal is to go undefeated and win a state championship. If we can do it with a couple loses that’s fine but the goal is to be perfect.”
Fellow senior Derek Hodge agreed.
“We’re looking pretty good right now,” Hodge said. “We’re all getting along and putting everything on the floor everyday. We will definitely make it farther than last if year if we keep pushing it.”
The girls team having made it to the Elite Eight tournament at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis last year is excited to improve on last years finish.
“We’re going to be really good because we have a team that works really hard,” senior Jordyn Keys said. “We have the same work ethic as last season and we keep pushing each other in practice every day.”
Senior Alaura Marrington attributes the Lady Bruins chances at a state title to how long the team has been playing together.
“We’ve been playing together so long that we work really well together,” she said. “There is always competition among the team and we’re always seeing how much we can push each other and how good we can get.”
Both teams will find out how good they’ve gotten when they face Hidden Valley High School tonight on the Mustang’s home range. Girls game is scheduled for 6 p.m. while the boys game is set for 7:30 p.m.