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Taking over the Cougars' head coaching role is another step in a lifelong basketball journey.

FILE PHOTO - Gervais High School will bring in Enrique Sandoval to lead the girls basketball team in the 2022-23 season.

The Gervais girls basketball coaching vacancy didn't last for long.

The program will be helmed by Enrique Sandoval, a Woodburn native and longtime basketball coach. Sandoval previously coached for Woodburn High School and played college basketball at Clackamas Community College, Chemeketa Community College and Warner Pacific. He also was a part of the 1995 Woodburn basketball team that made it to the state championship game against Stayton.

Sandoval heard about the opening at Gervais from Bushnell University coach Chad Meadors.

"I talked to my wife about it and my kids and they thought it was something that I should do," Sandoval said. "I've never coached girls before. So I just thought … a change would be good for me. (I'd) heard some good things about Gervais and how successful their program has been and so I said, OK, well why not try to continue that tradition."

Sandoval's first foray into coaching girls basketball finds him taking over one of the best basketball teams in the state at 2A. Under previous head coach Kyle Buse -- now the girls head coach at North Marion -- the team went 23-6 and made a run to the state quarterfinals. Gervais graduated just two seniors last year, guards Mayra Perez and Salma Villegas, and returns top-notch athletes.

While Sandoval hasn't seen the team compete, he has met with a few of the players ahead of the school year to introduce himself and express what he wants from the team.

"I just want the girls to have a positive experience playing," Sandoval said. "I want to compete. I've met them, but I didn't get to see them play. And so I'll be looking forward to sitting down and looking at film and seeing what they did. As of right now, all I want for the girls is to enjoy playing and competing to the best of their abilities."

The winter season is still months away and Sandoval will have plenty of time to meet his new team. Gervais is scheduled to tip off the 2022-23 season against Yamhill-Carlton on Wednesday, Nov. 30.

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