Amongst some of the best teams at 2A, Gervais will need to be scrappy to compete in the Tri-River Conference.

The Gervais High School boys basketball team finds itself eyeing gold in a crowded, competitive Tri-River Conference. The preseason coaches' poll has four of the Cougars league foes in the top 10: Western Christian (1), Salem Academy (2), Santiam (T10) and Kennedy (T10).

In addition, Gervais is light on senior leadership, returning just two 12th graders to this year's team: 6-0 senior David Gonzalez and 6-8 senior Krishaun Jump. Jump is the younger brother of Gervais alum and former Oregon State hooper Kylor Kelley and is who Gervais head coach Ben Schultz will look to anchor the defense and capitalize on shot blocking opportunities.

Schultz also expects junior guard Juan Esquivel to lead the Cougars on offense both in points and with assists. Esquivel and Jump will be the two captains for the team this season.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Gervais sophomore Gotti Ramon raises up for a shot against the visiting East Linn Christian Academy in the Cougars season opener on Dec. 1.

The season opener against East Linn Christian Academy was a rough first outing for Gervais. The Cougars fell behind early and despite finding some offense in the second half, it was too little too late and wound up losing 68-31.

Jump and Esquivel had quiet nights offensively but shooting from senior forward David Gonzalez kept the Cougars' offense moving. Gonzalez finished the night with 12 points, and junior Jesse Guido was the next highest scorer with six points. Other scorers on the night included sophomore Gotti Ramon, junior Cesar Trejo, sophomore Felix Navarro and junior Christian Avila.

The Cougars (0-1) will look to bounce back on Friday, Dec. 3, when they travel to face 3A Willamina. That game will mark the start of a four-game road trip. Gervais's next home game will be against Santiam at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 14.

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