After spending the last 23 years teaching in the Canby School District, longtime basketball coach Charles Knight was hired as the new Canby High School girls basketball head coach.
Knight replaces Brooke Cates – who was not asked back after leading the Cougars to five playoff appearances and five playoff victories in five seasons at the helm.
"I'm excited to be here. I think it's a good spot. It's going to take a little bit of time but I like the possibilities," Knight said.
Knight played four years at Central Catholic High School and then played for the Portland Community College team thereafter. After spending nearly a decade coaching at the club level, Knight coached the Camas girls basketball team from 2010 to 2015 and then was an assistant coach at Oregon City High School the last two years. Oregon City reached the state finals in 2017 and the quarterfinals in 2016.
And this spring, he accepted the Canby head coaching position.
"I will be an in-district coach and hopefully an in-building coach. That really helps. It's a big advantage to have. That's primarily why that position appealed to me. I was pretty happy at Oregon City but the Canby position was too good to pass up," Knight said.
He says being entrenched in the community is an advantage for coaches.
"When I was in Camas not only was I not in-building but I wasn't in-city. I was really removed so it's harder to make that connection with kids versus if you're there at the school. 'Hey come in at lunch. Let's talk things over.' They get to know you a lot better than just a coach. You can communicate more easily with the kids," he said.
Offensively, Knight likes his teams to play with pace and score easy buckets in transition. Defensively, he plans to employ a variety of schemes and to utilize the Cougars length.
"I like speed. I like to push the ball and score in transition, really get out and go. That's key to being successful," he said.
In Knight's first two tournaments as head coach, the Cougars went 3-3 in a tournament at George Fox High School and then went 3-2 in the River City Classic at Oregon City High School.
So far, Knight has learned that his team is talented defensively, has a few apt slashers in Cassidy Posey and Hannah Myers and able post players in Katie Odell and Nicole Mickelson.
"We have some size. We'll probably try to post up a little bit and we have some kids that can attack on the perimeter. We'll see over the summer what works for us and go from there," he said.
During the Cougars River City Classic tournament opener against La Salle Friday, June 23, they took an 8-2 lead early via scrappy defense, transition buckets and interior scoring, but La Salle finished the half on a 13-5 run. In the second half, the Falcons locked down the Cougars' half-court offense late in the game and finished the fourth quarter on a 13-0 run after the score was tied 22-22 with four minutes left to earn a 35-22 win.
Knight had little time to implement sophisticated counters to La Salle's suffocating defense and says Canby will need to improve its shooting before the season begins.
"We have to become a better outside shooting team. We have to develop some kids and get some confidence shooting the three," he said. "Defensively, with our length and athleticism, we've presented some trouble for teams. Conditioning has been an issue, transition defense, but when we've been set we've been pretty strong defensively."
Knight will host a youth basketball camp this week and the Cougars will play in a few more tournaments this summer. He believes developing a strong connection with the Canby youth teams will be integral to maintaining long-term success.
"I met with the people involved with junior program and I was impressed with their enthusiasm. I want to get a tight connection. In Camas that was one of our strengths. If you're going to have a really high level program you have to have that," he said.
Knight doesn't factor in the Cougars success in recent years into his expectations for next season but says he will set the bar high.
"I don't think the last two years have any impact on what's going on now but I do have high expectations. I think we can be a successful team. We have a lot of work to do but if we can put the pieces together I think we can have good success," he said.