For Gervais boys', girls' basketball, summer has different tenor
Gervais had both of its basketball teams in action early in the summer break, and each team had slightly different agendas.
The girls' team competed in the third ever Chemawa Summer Classic, a basketball tournament hosted at Chemawa Indian School in Salem running from Saturday, July 10, through Sunday evening July 11. The team is guaranteed five games over the course of the weekend, with the games consisting of two 18-minute halves and a running clock.
On Saturday, Gervais bested Dayton at 31-24 in the morning game, and followed it up with a dominant win over Amity 35-25. The changes between games were noticeable, with the Cougars moving the ball more, finding easy buckets in the key, and hitting looks from beyond the arc regularly. But this is a team looking to reestablish an identity.
Last year's state champions graduated five seniors, including Tri-River Conference Player of the Year Araceli Vasquez. This year the team will look to lone senior Mayra Perez and a host of talented juniors to lead them back to gold. Gervais girls' basketball coach Kyle Buse thinks it's already on the way.
"Mayra (Perez) has tons of leadership," Buse said. "She had it this (past) year with the class above her, and she's going to bring it in the summer and into next year. We saw it toward the end of the game, she wanted the ball in her hands. She leads on the defensive end too. That's huge. She's going to bring a lot of leadership. Our other guard Sofia (Contreras) wasn't here today, but she'll bring leadership as well.
"I think it's more of a collective leadership after that," Buse continued. "They know which direction they want to go, and they'll probably follow Mayra because she's that senior, and they're going to move forward."
Perez isn't letting the pressure of being the lone senior get to her. The guard knows what her responsibilities are, and where she wants to go with her team. "We know what we're shooting for, and I think we have to repeat it again," Perez said. "I think that's something on our shoulders. Like, 'We just won a state championship. We have to repeat it again.' I think it's on all of our shoulders. I think we need it."
"I'm feeling pretty great," Perez added. "I think we still have the team together, we're still strong. I think (it's) the same old. We're still here."
Incoming sophomore Olivia Boyd and incoming junior Ava Sellers were big contributors in the wins over Dayton and Amity on July 10. They will be tasked with helping keep the Gervais squad the gold standard at 2A, and that starts with rebuilding the teams cohesion on the court.
"I think we did a pretty good job of moving it around and looking for the open person," Sellers said of the performances.
"We didn't do a great job of finding the open person, but we were looking," Boyd added.
"So it's there, we just need to put it together," Sellers said.
Gervais's boys basketball team wrapped up its summer play in Molalla on July 8, losing to the 4A school 53-45 in a closely contested game. It was somewhat different than normal summer play, as head coach Ben Schultz let his graduating seniors compete with the team one last time since the season was cut so short to the COVID-19 pandemic. Two years ago the team played 25 regular season games, but this past season had less than half that.
"I gave them an extended season since we had only had eight games for our regular season," Schultz said.
For outgoing seniors like Michael Toran and Brian Limage, it was one last chance to compete in Gervais attire. It was also a chance to get stock of the incoming class of hoopers, and appraise the future of the team.
"I feel like it's in good hands," Limage said. "They're really good. Some of the guys are going to step up big time next year and hopefully they can start something and finish it."
The team will have a different feel about it. It'll be the same grit and grind that have become associated with the team, but some of the size will have graduated with the previous senior class.
"We're gritty, we get after it, we have to be," Schultz said. "We're not going to be that tall. We're losing (a) 6-5 (senior), losing another. We have a 6-6 junior going to be a senior. We don't have much, so we're going to have to rely on our quickness and our IQ, and our diving for the balls. Hopefully they'll start to adapt that, and that's what you're going to see more of next year."
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