ELMA — Three big losses to graduation has placed Elma’s boys basketball team into the hands of a large group of juniors this season.
For Elma head coach Marvin Prince, he believes the Eagles have the tools to compete in the Evergreen 1A, but who will get them there?
On Friday, Elma (8-6, 9-12 last year) will travel down to Raymond to kick off the new season.
“We’re heavy on juniors and I believe we have a lot of team speed,” Prince said. “The question mark is who will be our leader, our go-to guy? Early on in this season, we have to forge an identity. We’re still going to use the same offense and we’re going to get up into people and create opportunities on defense.
“You have to have leadership and who will be the guy who’ll step up and give it,” Prince asked. “I don’t care if it is a senior, junior or a sophomore, someone needs to be that consistent guy. I’m optimistic. We have a lot of great kids.”
The Eagles have three returning contributors to the team in juniors Chance Bremer, Ryan Collin and Ray Stark. Bremer, a 6-2 forward, led the team in rebounding last year, while Collin, a 6-0 guard, will shift between point and shooting guard. Stark, like his older brother, Joel, who graduated, is a 5-8 defensive specialist.
“Ray is one of the fastest guys in the league and I’ll put him up against Devonte Harris (of Tenino) any day,” Prince said. “Bremer will be our guy in the middle and Collin will swing out to the wing to give him some space to do some things.”
Junior guard Levi Horton (6-0) is healthy and will provide a second defensive specialist with Stark in the lineup. Juniors Tyson Nauman (6-0) and Jacob Stevens (6-0) will also see plenty of time as well. Junior center Tyler Davis (6-7) adds some height in the paint.
Seniors Zach Osgood (6-2) and Jayson Sayler (5-8), along with sophomores Joe Wilson (6-4) and Wyatt Gray (5-10), will give the Eagles much-needed depth in reserve.
In the Evergreen 1A, Prince said that Hoquiam is the “hands down” favorite to win, with a big group of teams, including Elma and Tenino, fighting for the second-through-fourth spots.
“Last year, I said we had a shot at it; this year, I believe we have a shot at it as well, as long as we develop an identity,” he said. “If we develop an identity that we’ll be here every night to play, we’ll raise some eyebrows. No doubt about it.”
Assisting Prince this season will be two local basketball officials, Ryan Watkins and Ian Osgood, as well as former Elma player Tyson Farrar and Nick Kruger.