By Josh Bronson

Pilot staff writer

Last year, nobody expected the Brookings-Harbor High School boys' basketball team to make it to the state tournament.

This year, it's a different story.

Teams in the Far West League will be gunning for the experienced Bruins and other teams will have a watchful eye on the team from down south.

andquot;We have high expectations this year,andquot; senior Nick Taresh said. andquot;We just have to work hard to get there.andquot;

The Bruins started work early this year, putting together an intense summer schedule against several quality teams.

andquot;We're pleased with the progress and growth we've shown over the summer,andquot; Coach Bryan Wood said. andquot;We've had some young men step up to compete for very valuable roles.andquot;

Wood believes that defense changes games and sets the pace and this year's team will not stray from that.

andquot;We hope to be defined by our defense,andquot; Wood said. andquot;Our plan is to play intense, full-court defense and maintain that intensity throughout the game.andquot;

Quickness and the ability to run the floor, especially at the post position, is one area that the team depends on and uses to exploit other teams' weaknesses.

andquot;Our speed and our defense is going to be our key,andquot; junior Fred Corpening said. andquot;That's where we get our intensity from and that's how we'll get a lot of fast-break points.andquot;

Every man on the Bruins' roster, from point guard to post, has the ability to run the floor and is expected to do so.

andquot;I think our ability to run the floor and our post players will be our strengths,andquot; Wood said.

When the Bruins aren't running other teams ragged, they will be working the ball into their talented post players.

andquot;It's only going to work if everyone does their part,andquot; junior Kenton Bansemer said. andquot;The guards have to be able to hit the outside shots in order to be able to feed the posts.andquot;

One of the focuses this summer and in early practices this fall has been the sometimes suspect outside shooting of the Bruins.

andquot;We have to shoot the ball better,andquot; Wood said. andquot;We're getting better, but the good part is, we have our defense to rely on until we get there.andquot;

The Bruins have a tough preseason schedule, which includes Hidden Valley and a couple of tournaments in California against much larger schools.

andquot;With our schedules and intense practices, we're trying to put ourselves in adverse situations early on to see how we respond,andquot; Wood said. andquot;We're going to be playing up quite a bit, some against schools twice our size.andquot;

This year's team will be led by juniors Chase Bansemer, Corpening and K. Bansemer, who all played key roles in last year's run to the state tournament.

Corpening is a very versatile post player whose aggressiveness will get him lots of easy buckets under the basket.

His passing game has also improved tremendously and he is turning into one of the emotional leaders on the floor.

At 6'7andquot;, K. Bansemer is extremely quick for a big guy who should be able to outrun everyone else at his position.

K. Bansemer has been working on his post moves all summer and can now effectively score from both sides of the paint with either hand.

Taking over the majority of the ball handling duties this year will be C. Bansemer, whose strength and intensity should help him overpower other guards and push the ball up the floor.

He also has great passing abilities and good court vision, allowing him to drive to the hole or dish off to a teammate.

The other two big men for the Bruins, senior AJ Weber (6'5andquot;) and senior Charles Chambers (6'7andquot;), give the Bruins the ability to have a very tall team out on the floor.

The versatility of Chambers and Weber help the Bruins immensely because once K. Bansemer takes a seat, the two back up big men will still be able to run the floor with the rest of the teams.

Senior Garrett Long started practice this week and is still trying to fully recover from a knee injury suffered at the state tournament back in March.

Long was one of the Bruins' best shooter's last year and also had the ability to drive to the basket.

Picking up some of the scoring lost last year with the departure of Jason Bay will be senior Nick Taresh.

Taresh is a great mid-range jumper and will have to utilize that in order to get the Bruins points on the board.

The Bruins also have a number of role players who will be key in coming off the bench.

Seniors Michael Wood and Michael Holmes can both shoot the 3-pointer at a fairly high percentage.

Holmes has improved his passing and his defense this summer and will be a big help coming off the bench.

Wood, along with junior Travis Bay, will bring intense, high-velocity defense onto the floor when they enter the game.

The first game of the year for the Bruins will be at 7:30 p.m. on Monday, Nov. 26, at Bandon High School.