Girls basketball: Gladstone still adjusting to new coach, faster tempo
When Glenn Hopkins took over Gladstone High School's girls' basketball program, the former Oregon City assistant was cautiously optimistic.
Named this past fall to replace Pat Scott, Hopkins inherited a team with only one returning starter and a supporting cast with little or no varsity experience.
"Expectations? I didn't really have any, other than I wanted the girls to come in and work hard and be coachable and improve every day," Hopkins said.
Having spent five seasons working under Kurt Guelsdorf at Oregon City, Hopkins is borrowing heavily from the Pioneers' play book, pushing Gladstone to play the same type of high-pressure defense and up-tempo offense that has made Oregon City a perennial state power.
So far, it's been a lot for the Gladiators to digest in a short period of time.
"It didn't help that the whole coaching change happened so late," said senior Grace Campbell, the lone returning starter. "We didn't work with him in the spring, we didn't work with him in the summer, and it was like, OK, you have three weeks of practice to learn a new offense, learn a new defense, learn everything new, and then go play. And that was rough.
"I know everyone enjoys being at practice and everyone enjoys being with the coaches. And the coaches are there for us, they enjoy being there, and it makes for a good atmosphere."
After some early-season struggles, Gladstone (2-10) has started to put some things together, even if the team's progress hasn't always been reflected on the scoreboard.
It also didn't help that Campbell went down with a foot injury in the first week of training camp and missed the first eight games.
"Taking Grace out ouf the mix left us with a very inexperienced team," Hopkins said. "We've been in a lot of games, but not having the experience hurts. And then not having a kid like Grace on the floor and having to ask other kids to step up into roles that are maybe larger than they had anticipated at the beginning of the season made it tough.
"The girls are still getting comfortable with playing faster. They're learning. They're adjusting. It's getting better every game."
The Gladiators were close to invincible in their first home game following the holiday break as they dominated Tillamook at both ends of the floor and rolled to a lopsided 57-11 non-conference home win Tuesday.
Allyson Pope scored a game-high 11 points, Campbell had 10 points, and Dessie Alvarado and Shaye Pinner added seven each for the Gladiators.
After a slow start, Gladstone outscored the Cheesemakers 21-2 in the second quarter to take a 27-3 halftime lead and controlled every aspect of the game after that.
"We can definitely say this was one of the best games we've played all year, by far," Campbell said. "We played hard and we didn't let up once."
Said Hopkins: "That was fun. The girls shot very well tonight. To me, I think it's very encouraging to see the results tonight that we had.
"I thought the energy that the kids had was great, and they fed off of each other."
Gladstone dropped a 47-36 decision at No. 8 Philomath on Friday -- the Glads' 10th road game to open the season. They return home this week to close out non-conference play with games Tuesday against Cottage Grove and Friday against Scappoose.
Gladstone is scheduled to open Tri-Valley Conference play on Jan. 17 at home against Corbett.
"It's been a really good experience," said Hopkins, who is a physical education teacher at Lee Elementary School and Trost Elementary School in the Canby School District. "It's been a little bit hard commuting -- living in Oregon City, working in Canby, and coaching in Gladstone -- so there has been some juggling of schedules with my wife and kids, but I've got a pretty good support group.
"Every game there has been improvement and I think we're starting to get good at the right time, because league is right around the corner. It's taken a little bit longer, but good things come to those who wait."