Sports

"Klahowya boys short, but not short on experience"

"After his Klahowya Secondary School boys basketball team beat Tyee 55-43 last week to open its 1999-2000 season on a winning note, first-year coach Scott McMinds had two wishes for the Eagles.First, he wished his win-starved team — two wins in two seasons under departed Mike McCorkle, both of which came last winter — would savor the victory and enjoy the feeling.Second, he wishes they have a chance this year to get used to that feeling.“The thing for us this year is to win the games we’re capable of winning,” says McMinds, a 26-year-old embarking on his first head coaching job. “This was a perfect way for us to start. I would’ve been upset if we hadn’t won that game, because we were the better team.”In their first two seasons, the Eagles seldom got to make that claim. And, on those occasions when they might’ve had a physical edge, they couldn’t get over the hump mentally.This year, McMinds says, it’s time for Klahowya to come of age.“Our guys need to get used to the feeling of winning,” he says. “I don’t think this team really believed it could win before. That’s a routine you don’t want to let yourself get into.”In its first two years competing in the Olympic League — mostly Class 4A and 3A opponents — Klahowya took turns being done in by its lack of size (both in numbers and in height) and its lack of experience.There still isn’t a lot of size in the Eagles’ camp. Sophomore Robert Tyree wins the tape-stretchin’ award, and he’s a modest 6-foot-2.But the experience situation has improved. There’s a nucleus of seniors, guys who have been around since the program’s first turnout, who are ready to make McMinds’ wishes come true.“We’ve got some good leaders here,” McMinds says. “There’s a group of seniors who aren’t gifted basketball players, but they have a lot of heart and desire. They want to do well, and they want the team to do well their senior year.”That group starts with forward Brett Krache, last year’s leading scorer and rebounder despite standing in at just 5-10. Sturdy enough to bang inside against much-taller opponents, Krache also is a strong enough outside shooter to pose a 3-point threat.He’s joined by third-year veterans Jesse Rickabaugh, Joe Emel, Bob Merz and Jeff Berend. The latter missed all of last year — and the baseball season as well — with a preseason knee injury, but will be a welcome addition inside.Also back are junior guards Josh Merry and Eddie Bullock, who supply, respectively, some offensive polish and defensive quickness.The Eagles got a shot in the arm when Rick Gregory — who played at Klahowya as a sophomore, then transferred to Central Kitsap last year — opted to return for his senior season. Gregory is a smooth guard who brings with him ballhandling and shooting ability, and an acumen for playing in CK’s fast-paced offense.Then there’s Tyree, a sophomore who McMinds will look to for strong all-around play in the paint.“I’m excited for this year,” McMinds says. “We want to create a sense of team and build a winning tradition, and I think we’re off to a good start.”And McMinds, formerly an assistant with Klahowya’s junior high team, likes what he sees in the program’s future, too.“The junior high program is all ninth-graders this year,” he says. “They’ve got some size, some speed, some good players. They’ll feed 12 plus (potential players) into our program next year.”They’ll also feed that newfound winning attitude McMinds is pushing."

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