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C.S. Lewis sports round-up: Watchmen transition after graduating several all-time players

GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The C.S. Lewis boys basketball team includes two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and two freshman and is rebuilding after a couple of successful years of 1A play.

Following the graduation of its all-time leading scorer and shot blocker, along with the departure of myriad other contributors, the C.S. Lewis Academy boys basketball team is looking ahead to this season as an opportunity to grow. The Watchmen roster includes just eight players – two seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.

New coach Gary McCulloch said the Watchmen don't have much experience, but that it's a hard working group that will learn plenty of lessons in 2019-2020.

"We're really, really young," McCulloch said. "We don't have very much experience coming back. We lost four seniors and our second-leading scorer is out of town."

Junior Ben Swan is the lone returning starter from last season's CSLA team that was stocked with experience. Now, the athletic and lanky Swan will be among those leading a group with minimal numbers and not a whole lot of varsity time on the court.

Joining Swan among the team's leaders so far are slashing sophomore guard Nic Hurst and sharpshooting senior Braylon Russ. McCulloch said the Watchmen offense is built from the rim out, with not too many three-point attempts.

"We really want to force it inside," he said. "Our offense typically likes to spread it out and get to the basket as best we can. We have two posts in Ben (Swan) and freshman Cole Pender at 6-foot-4 with size and versatility."

Pender's size will be a significant asset for C.S. Lewis, as will Swan's. Not too many 1A schools can boast two posts at that height, so developing the young big men will be key to the Watchmen's success this year.

Pender also has the ability to shoot from outside, so ironing out his inside game will be a focus of this season as McCulloch and company prepare him to lead in the future.

The C.S. Lewis roster also includes a player who attends Veritas School in Newberg – a first-of-its-kind partnership between the two schools to help with lower participation numbers in the sport. Sophomore guard Adam Rapp will be in the mix for CSLA this season and his participation actually bumps the team up to the 2A level due to the combined attendance of both schools.

With no league and a 2A independent schedule, the road has been tough for a young Watchmen group so far.

They were 0-3 entering Tuesday night and hadn't been closer than 17 points in any of those games.

"For us, we have been a little shell shocked in the early going," McCulloch said. "I expect to improve as the season goes on, but we're young so we have to be patient at this stage of our development. We're not going to be a great team, but our kids work hard."

C.S. Lewis took on Livingstone Adventist on Tuesday night after press time and looks ahead to home games against Willamette Valley Christian and Eddyville Charter on Thursday and Saturday.

Even if they are taking their lumps in a challenging schedule, McCulloch said this year will be valuable.

"We just want to be playing," he said. "It will be good for us to get these kids some experience and get these kids the experience they need."

Girls winless out the gateGRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - The CSLA girls team boasts only five players, two who have not played organized basketball in the past.

The C.S. Lewis Academy girls basketball team is 0-3 on the season so far, working with a small roster with minimal experience.

The Watchmen lost 31-12 to Trinity Academy on Dec. 11, 48-19 to Falls City on Dec. 12 and 54-14 to Central Christian on Saturday.

The Watchmen played a road game at Livingstone Adventist on Tuesday night after press time.

Next up for CSLA is a home game against Willamette Valley Christian on Thursday.

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