C.S. Lewis boys hoops embracing competition; girls team managing with a very small roster
C.S. Lewis has typically struggled drawing numbers for boys basketball. This year, however, Brett Vernon's program had 16 boys come out for the team and the sudden boon in participation is breeding strong competition in practice.
The Watchmen return four starters from last season, including senior Micah Grobey, who Vernon said is averaging more than 23 points and 11 rebounds per game over the past two seasons. Grobey is joined by senior returners Jacob McClatchey and Trevor Ambrose, along with junior Jacob More.
"They do a little bit of everything," Vernon said. "Micah kind of does it all as the point guard for us. Jacob More led the league in three-pointers last year and set a school record, Jacob McClatchey is a good post, and we've got guys competing every day in practice for minutes."
After winning 15 games last year, Vernon expects the team to improve and have a quality year on the court. So far, C.S. Lewis is 1-2 after a 60-33 win over Southwest Christian, 35-73 loss to Condon/Wheeler and 43-69 defeat at the hands of Arlington.
The boys had a road game against Oregon School for the Deaf on Tuesday after press time and look ahead to a Friday home game against Falls City, which tips off at 7 p.m.
Vernon, who coaches both the boys and girls team, said it's been a challenge finding a balance between the two squads.
"The biggest thing I'm trying to do is make sure we have good preparation beforehand," he said. "I've been very thorough with my practice plan and stuff like that, making sure there's no down time. It is definitely challenging to do both, but it's been a fun challenge so far."
Numbers remain an obstacle for the C.S. Lewis girls. The team only has five players on its roster, although four of them are returning starters from last season.
According to Vernon, the girls return 70 percent of their scoring and 90 percent of their rebounds. The lone senior on the roster is Ally Trowbridge, who he said was their leader on the court.
The remainder of the C.S. Lewis lineup includes junior Grace Pender, sophomores Jamie Wooding and Chloe Huber, and freshman Jennessa Hoekama.
"We're coming off a year where we only won a couple games, but there was a lot of improvement," Vernon said. "Three years ago we didn't have a team and we had a couple girls who played on the guys' team."
C.S. Lewis is always looking for new players on the girls side and Vernon said the team added a new girl to its roster with a month remaining in last season. Making do with what they have is the task ahead, though, and it's a difficult one considering the necessary conditioning and potential for injuries in basketball.
But Vernon maintains that he is keeping this group in shape and ready to go as it practices alongside the boys, and he is working to install an offensive system that would best utilize his players' individual skillsets.
"Overall, with only five girls, you can't really pick and choose positions," he said. "We've got four girls that can handle the ball, and our center – Jamie Wooding – can handle it as well. We're going to try and get out and pressure the ball a bit because we have some athletes."
C.S. Lewis is 0-3 this season, losing 25-53 to Southwest Christian, 19-34 to Condon/Wheeler and 28-34 to Arlington. The girls also played at Oregon School for the Deaf on Tuesday night and have a home matchup with Falls City slated for 5:30 p.m. Friday.
Despite the slow start and nonexistent bench, Vernon is aiming for improvement over last season.
"I think the expectation is to raise the bar a bit from last year with a lot of returning players," he said.
"We're going to try and compete day in and day out, especially now with only five players on the roster. It will be a little different walking in the gym with people looking at us with only five on the court, but we're ready for the challenge."