Tigard has a mix of proven players and newcomers going into the 2017-2018 season

DAN BROOD - Tigard High School junior Stevie Schlabach (right), who earned first-team All-Three Rivers League honors last year, returns for the Tigers this season. TIGARD — It might take a little bit of time, but the Tigard High School boys basketball team will be looking to put things all together during the 2017-2018 season.

The Tigers do have some key players back this year, but they'll also be relying on a good number of newcomers to the varsity roster.

"We will be fairly inexperienced especially in terms of depth," Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said. "How quickly we come together as a team will go a long ways in our success on the court."

Among the key returnees from last year's team that finished in second place in the Three Rivers League standings at 10-4, while going 17-7 on the season is junior wing Stevie Schlabach (6-foot-3). Last year, as a sophomore, was a first-team All-Three Rivers League selection.

"We will also look for Stevie Schlabach to step up in this roll as well being a returning starter and all-league performer," Alderman said.

The Tigers also return senior post Austin Dufort (6-6). Dufort, who has missed action early in the season due to injury, was a second-team all-league pick a year ago.

Other varsity returnees for the Tigers include senior wing Jake Leavitt (6-1), junior wing Diego Lopez (6-2) and junior point guard Jake Bullard (6-1).

"Jake Leavitt and Diego Lopez should bring us some much needed toughness and defensive intensity," Alderman said.

Among the newcomers to the Tigard varsity roster are senior post Kellen Horn (6-2), junior wing Jazz Ross (6-0), junior wing Luke Ness (6-2), junior wing Carson Crist (6-0), sophomore point guard Max Lenzy (5-10) and freshman wing Drew Carter (6-2), who has already shown plenty of potential in the early part of the season.

Still, with a young group, Tigard's veteran players could be counted on heavily this season.

"We will expect a lot in terms of leadership from our seniors who have been in the program now for three years," Alderman said. "They will need to set the tone in practice and help teach the newcomers what it takes to be successful at this level. Our league is so tough that we can't have 'off days.'"

The Tigers will also look to fill in some pieces in other areas of the game.

"We have a couple of capable scorers but need to find reliable guys to step in for the scoring that we lost," Alderman said. "We also need to find our identity defensively. We have always been a tough defensive team but lost some of that toughness. We have some guys who can step up with some experience."

As for the Three Rivers League this year, the Tigers know they'll be facing plenty of strong competition.

"Again, we will have one of the toughest leagues in the state, with West Linn again the favorite," Alderman said. "Lake Oswego and Tualatin are always tough but again, in this league, there are no nights off. Each game will be tough. As always, in the end, we hope to be in the playoff mix."

Tigard, on Tuesday, opened play at the Bill Gabel Invitational, behind held at Tigard High School, by getting a 66-52 win against Westview.

The Tigers were slated to play Parkrose in an invitational game on Wednesday. Results of that game weren't available when the Times went to press.

Tigard will finish play at the event today (Thursday), when it plays Sheldon at 6 p.m.

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