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Sophomore Damian Tavera leads Cougars with 13 points in 60-33 loss to Willamina

The green light is on for the Gervais boys basketball team, and it's up to the Cougars to decide how hard they want to push down the gas pedal.

The Gervais Cougars are coming off back-to-back losses to Scio and Willamina at the Scio Tournament over the weekend leading up to New Year's. Gervais dropped a 48-19 contest to the hosting Loggers on Friday and fell 60-33 the day before to the Willamina Bulldogs.

It was the third and fourth games since the team parted ways with leading scorer Pedro Villegas, and the Cougars are still trying to adjust offensively.

"I think this is the first game without him that they've played well enough to be that cohesive team," Gervais head coach Ben Schultz said after the loss to Willamina.

It was the second consecutive game against the Bulldogs, and a marked improvement over the team's 71-19 loss on Dec. 22. This time, with another week of rest and practice and more opportunity for players to get comfortable in the new offensive landscape, the Cougars looked much more poised, cutting the deficit to 33-22 at one point in the third quarter before the Bulldogs went on a late run to seal the game.

"(With Pedro) no longer a part of our team, they have to rely on themselves more than they have to rely on having that one guy who can break down somebody," Schultz said. "It's a slow process because we're young – and yeah we have some seniors, but this is the first year for them playing."

Without the team's leading scorer, the offensive load is being spread among the team's remaining players. Schultz has given his players the green light to take those shots and make the offense their own.

"We're just trying to be more of a team cohesiveness," Schultz said. "If you have an open shot, you take it. We're not relying on that one guy that can just jack it up."

Sophomore Damian Tavera led the team in scoring against the Bulldogs on Thursday scoring 13 points, most of which came on four 3-pointers. Junior Xaden Ramon added six points, as did senior Armando Tarula, who connected on a pair of triples.

And while the guards did the majority of the offensive work, Schultz wants to see his big men get more looks down in the post.

PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais sophomore Damian Tavera goes up for a fast break layup attempt in the Cougars' 60-33 loss to Willamina on Thursday. Tavera led the team with 13 points, including four 3-pointers.
That includes 6-foot-4 sophomore Auggie Guido who is beginning to get more comfortable in full contact action after fracturing his ankle over the summer. Although Guido played football in the fall, he still played gingerly in the opening games of the basketball season, afraid of putting his full weight on his ankle jumping for blocks, rebounds and shot.

"When I came back game one, I was thinking I just can't have that happen again," Guido said. "I was really uncomfortable jumping and doing that, but as I got through the season, I thought 'Now I can actually make it.'"

PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais junior Xaden Ramon streaks upcourt for one of his three field goals scored in the second half of the Cougars' 60-33 loss to the Willamina Bulldogs on Thursday. 
Guido scored three points, all in the second half, in the game against Willamina. Along with 6-foot-4 sophomore teammate Brian Limage and 6-foot-2 forward Michael Toran, the Cougars have plenty of size to throw at opponents.

Gervais (0-10, 0-3 Tri-River) returns to action on Friday against the Yamhill-Carlton Tigers (1-9).

Phil Hawkins can be reached at 503-765-1194 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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