MAUPIN – The Sherman Huskies have talent, skill and a veteran presence in their starting lineup, but head coach Gary Lewis wants his younger athletes to gain more court experience and get them in the flow, because situations may come up where they are relied upon to play critical minutes in big games.
Caleb Fritts scored six points, Wade Blake and Owen Christiansen added four points each, and the Husky reserves totaled 23 points overall in a 70-16 victory over South Wasco County Tuesday in a Big Sky Conference boys’ basketball contest played in Maupin.
“I think that is very important for our kids, because we are going to need their contributions down the road,” Lewis said. “You never know when an injury will bite you or foul trouble will bite you and then you have to go to your bench. We expect our kids to be ready. We still have these goals on the board and the expectation is no different for them than for our starters, and I think our kids responded pretty well to that tonight.”
Added to the top reserve trio, senior Makoa Whitaker scored four points off the bench, Nick Riggs hit for three points, and Tyler Jones sank a pair of free throws as the Huskies used a 26-2 second-quarter run to take a 45-8 halftime lead.
A chunk of that offensive explosion came from all-state point guard Jacob Justesen, who dropped 14 first-half points, Treve Martin tacked on 11 and Reese Blake chipped in six.
In the third quarter, Justesen and Luke Martin had four points each and both Treve Martin and Keenan Coles notched a basket for a 12-3 run to extend the Husky lead to 57-11 entering the fourth quarter.
For the game, Sherman (10-1 overall, 2-0 league) racked up 31 field goals, two 3-pointers and converted 6 of 8 free throws, with Justesen putting up 18 points to lead all scorers.
Treve Martin tallied 13 points and Luke Martin, Blake and Fritts were good for six points apiece.
Now with a six-game winning streak, following a 55-49 tournament loss to 3A Cascade Christian on Dec. 16, the Huskies are off to a promising start to their league slate, at 2-0, with 12 more games remaining in the regular season.
Lewis feels like the Huskies have barely been able to scratch the surface on what they are capable of.
“We are playing pretty well defensively at this point. We can still get better. We are struggling a little bit with our zone press stuff, which we didn’t do a lot tonight, but we still have some work to do in that realm,” Lewis said. “Offensively, we have gotten a little bit more patient. We were not patient at all in December. We feel like we haven’t hit our stride yet offensively at all and that was one of our goals tonight. I thought we took some steps in that direction, but we are a long way from peaking.”
While the Redsides (2-10) are riding a five-game losing skid, head coach Jim Hull says there is no better teaching tool than competing against a high-caliber program.
SWC committed 55 turnovers and had three players hit seven total field goals, led by the 12-point and seven-rebound effort by freshman post Garrett Olson. Tuff Wilson and Ben Birman added a basket each, both in the first half.
“After the game, I told the kids that now we know what playing against the No. 1 or 2 team in the state feels like,” Hull said. “You can only get better by playing teams that are as talented as Sherman is. The score was really rough. We are not going to dwell on the loss, but we are going to focus on the fact that we got to play against a great team and how it was a great opportunity to grow from it.”
Of their 10 losses, two have come by two points, so the Redsides could very well be 4-8 at this stage with three winnable contests on tap against Mitchell-Spray, Ione and Horizon Christian over the next week.
More than that, however, he just wants his group on the hardwood gaining knowledge and repetitions from every possession and every game, this way they can handle whatever situation is thrown their way.
“We have to gain the experience that builds the confidence in us that they are playing calm and not panicky and where they can get the ball to the right places to give their teammates a chance to be successful,” Hull said. “That comes with playing a lot of ball. Big picture, a lot of the kids on our team haven’t played a lot of ball or a ton of games. We are starting to add to that now, and so there will come a time where that scale will tip when they get more time on the floor.”
Sherman hosts No. 13-ranked Condon-Wheeler (9-4, 3-0) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, where first place in league will be on the line.
After that, the Huskies travel to Arlington (5-6, 1-1) for a matchup starting at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.
South Wasco County (2-10, 0-2) makes a trip to take on Mitchell-Spray (2-8, 0-2) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, and then hosts Ione (2-9, 0-1) at 5:30 p.m. Saturday.