MACLEOD PAPPIDAS | THE DAILY WORLD
Montesano’s Ben Ohashi drives between teammates Layne Bruner, left, and Matthew Jensen during practice this week.
If any team can be said to experience an enjoyably late start to the basketball season, Montesano’s boys fill the bill.
Nine days after winning the state 1A football championship, the Bulldogs will tip off their hoop campaign Monday at home against Willapa Valley.
Althoughbasketball practices at Montesano technically have been going on since late November, seven of the team’s nine full-time varsity performers were on the football team and didn’t begin turnouts until last Monday.
The situation, according to Bulldog coach Doug Schupbach, is very much a mixed blessing.
“Everybody else is on their fourth week of practice and have three or four games under their belt,” Schupbach noted.
On the other hand, football-related delayed turnouts are far from unheard of at Montesano.
“In the past, they’ve come out after a (playoff) loss. This year, they’re coming out after a win,” Schupbach said. “Mentally, there’s a big difference when you’re out on the floor.”
In addition, little has changed in the Monte offense since last season.
“They’re very intelligent kids and athletic, so they’ll catch on really quick,” the Bulldog coach asserted.
If they can find their basketball legs quickly enough, the Bulldogs could land in the upper half of the Evergreen 1A League. They boast plenty of speed and athleticism, but lack size.
Senior Layne Bruner, the lone projected starter who did not play football, provides some of the latter quality at 6-foot-2, but is far from bulky. He and junior Kenny Roy, also 6-2, will operate up front.
Matthew Jensen, Monte’s football quarterback, will help run the show in the backcourt, with 5-9 senior Ben Ohashi and 5-10 senior Shad Rogers at the wings.
Seniors Tucker Ibabao, Richard Smith and Zack Nelson will be the first off the Bulldog bench. Five-nine junior Kody Usher is also available, but Schupbach is undecided on the remainder of his varsity personnel.
Shooting, Montesano’s Achilles heel in recent years, remains a question mark.
“The big thing is getting the shooting back after being off for so long,” Schupbach said. “There are some kids who can shoot. They just need to get their touch and belief back.”
The Bulldog coach ranks Hoquiam as “far and away” the Evergreen 1A League favorite, with Tenino and Forks possibly in the next group.
Doug Farmer moves up from the C squad to coach the Bulldog jayvees this season, with Brandon Klinger taking over the C squad.