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Head coach Craig Evans reflects on the results of the year, and looks ahead at what's to come

ARCHIVE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby freshman Diego Arredondo was one of the breakout players for the Cougars over the past season. After stepping up to in the jamboree at the beginning of the year, Arredondo staked his claim as a varsity player. The Canby boys' basketball team had a tough go of it in the 2017-2018 season. The Cougars had the lowest point scoring over the course of their season, only scoring 1,111 at the end of their run. Conversely though, the team had the second fewest points scored against them. At the end of it all, Canby ended its season 6-18 overall, and tied for seventh place in the Three Rivers League (TRL) with Lakeridge at 2-12.

For Canby head coach Craig Evans, he views the season that was as one of constant improvement, even if the record does not reflect it.

"I think it was a year of development," Evans said. "I think the seniors can really look back on the season, and say, 'We were playing a lot better at the end of the year than we were at the beginning.' There was disappointment in not making the playoffs, but I think they knew that they were doing everything they could and they played their hardest and they didn't give up. I'm excited for the future. Disappointed with the results, but excited for the future."

Part of the reason Evans is so positive about the upcoming year is a trait he saw in this seasons team: malleability. The Cougars this year were receptive to strategy and tactics, and used them to combat the larger, more athletic teams in the TRL.

ARCHIVE PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Canby senior Jacob Huggins was one of the hardest workers on the team, and did an excellent job of distributing the ball to his teammates and battling against some of the toughest teams in the state. 
"They bought into their roles, followed through with game plans, probably better than most teams I've ever coached," Evans said. "About halfway through that season, they figured out that maybe we couldn't run and gun as much as we'd like to, and shoot 3-pointers. We were going to have to slow it down, and execute our offense perfectly. They bought into it, they did it, and that gave them the best chance for winning. That's when we got a couple league wins."

Those league wins came in back to back contests against the Lakeridge Pacers and the Sherwood Bowmen. In those games, and in several other close league games, several of the underclassmen stepped up to make big games. No one player made more of an impact than freshman Diego Arredondo, younger brother of senior Diego Arredondo.

"When you throw a freshman in there, I didn't know how he was going to react," Evans said. "Started with our jamboree, we didn't have senior Wade (Brewer) and we didn't have (sophomore) Ronan (Gay) because he got hurt. I had Diego who I had penciled in to play varsity, but not significantly, and he had come into that jamboree he started because of a couple injuries. He didn't blink, he didn't shy away from it, he took it, had a great jamboree, saw the playing time, and never gave it back."

While Evans gave Arredondo his due, he also lauded the work ethic of his other underclassmen representatives. The four freshman he drafted up pulled their weight, and hung in there with the workhorses of the senior class. Specifically, Evans pointed out Jacob Huggins and Riley Jones.

"Riley and Jacob had probably the most pressure put on them," Evans said. "Being 6'1" posts in this league, we relied to use their strength and smarts to battle against 6'7", 6'6" guys. They did the best they could, and they never let us down. They did what we asked them to, so I think they both really stepped it up."

While the team was engaged in many back and forth, spirited battles, it was an off the court experience that will stick with Evans clearest. In fact, it's the same one that sticks with him every year: a trip to Vegas with his team.

"I take them on these trips is to show them something different," Evans said. "They're always excited, they're impressed, to get outside of Canby, to get outside of Oregon. Some of those kids never have that opportunity, and giving them that and them saying thank you at the end, that's always going to stick with me no matter what."

With the season now resting in the annals of history, Evans is already looking ahead. The next year of competition is already closing in, and he and his team could not be more excited about the future.

"The work starts April 9," Evans said. "That's when we can start working the kids out again. I took a bunch of the boys to the (state) tournament, and they're excited. They want to get back in the gym. That's fun to see. They're not tired, which is amazing. I'm not tired, which is amazing. Usually at the end of the year, I'm needing a two weeks break. But I'm full of energy when it comes to this, and that just shows me that I still love it."

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