Last season, the HRV boys basketball team finished with a 7-15 overall record and went 1-8 in league play.
The boys started off last year going 3-3, with wins over Redmond, Riverside and White Salmon, but would go a derailing 4-12 to close out the year and would end in 29th in the final 5A Oregon School Activities Association (OSAA) standings.
Last season, the Eagles scored a total of 1,182 points and allowed 1,261. The nearly identical numbers may seem like there were a lot of close games, but most of their wins and losses were lopsided.
Much of this had to do with the inexperience at the varsity level, but this year, there’s a whole new feel and comfort level for the Eagles as third-year Head Coach Christopher Dirks has eight seniors and two juniors on the roster.
Although the Eagles lost two seniors to graduation, one of which was captain guard and wing player Zack Moore, they return 10 players, including captains JJ Mears and Tanner Wells.
HRV also brings back four of its starting five players, Moore being the only starter from last year’s team not on this year’s roster.
Expect the Eagles this season to push the ball up the court and get shots up.
With two big men standing at six feet, six inches and eight wing players surrounding them, this team is based around speed, three-point shooting, spacing and length on the defensive side of the court.
And it all revolves around Mears and Wells.
The value of Mears’ consistent three-point shooting at the guard position will serve to great value in the Eagles’ offense.
Mears’ ability to space the floor beyond the arc stretches the defense and gives the other four players on the court plenty of room to make a play. Mears is much more than just a three-point shooter — he’s rather a combo guard. Mears’ ability to lead the team, put the ball on the floor and give the ball to the open man is the reason why he starts at the point guard position for the Eagles.
Then there’s Wells. At six feet, two inches, Wells is going to be asked to do it all: shoot, pass, rebound, defend and be a leader.
And he’s more than capable of doing so.
His frame allows him to be a presence on both ends of the court and stretch the floor with a three-point shot, but is also strong enough to battle down low and it gives the Eagles a real two-way threat.
Another potential two-way player on this roster is Jonah Tactay.
At around six feet tall, Tactay is a high-energy player and can be a real weapon, especially on the defensive end.
The length and speed Tactay has allows him to be able to potentially guard every position on the court.
If he can wreak havoc on the defensive end of the floor, it puts him in the perfect position to show off his offensive abilities.
Tactay’s athleticism and jumping skills from track and field translate right into the open court in a basketball game.
Being able to force turnovers and bad shots usually lead to fast break opportunities, which is where Tactay’s game flourishes as he can put the ball on the floor and then use his explosiveness from his legs to finish at the basket.
Much like Mears, junior guard Carson Flores is another real threat for HRV on the offensive end of the court.
Flores has an impressive handle and is crafty with the ball. His ability to not only hit open shots, but create his own shot makes him someone who’ll see his fair share of opportunities to put up a high volume of field goal attempts a game.
However, unlike Mears, Flores has a less-developed leadership role as well as being able to handle the duties of a guard at the varsity level, and that all comes with age. So, throughout this season Flores, is someone to keep an eye on, since this is the season where he needs to see growth in the mental aspect of his game. There’s always a lot of potential for someone who has a true love for a game, and Flores has that for basketball.
Wings Braxton Wilson, Peiyton Slatt, Noah Webster and German Diaz balance out the position players surrounding the big men.
Wilson is another one of those players who has a true love for the game, evident since a young age. As a middle schooler, he was always at the high school open gyms and seemed to never miss one. This sort of dedication shown will give the Eagles someone who will, with no doubt, consistently go out and give it his all when his name is called on.
Slatt, senior guard and wing player, is a wonderful position player for the offense Dirks has branded this team with. He’s able to push the ball up court and has the ability to knock down open looks. Over the years, Slatt has had problems with nagging injuries that have again and again set him back and have made it hard for him to help this team on the court, but at the start of this year he’s getting his chance to go back out there and compete as he’s near 100 percent.
Diaz has the one thing you look for in any athlete at any sport or level, and it’s the drive to become the best player you can be.
Since a young age Diaz has worked hard to be in the position he’s finally in this year, on the varsity roster. He’s got the ability to play at this level, a combo lengthy guard who can defend and create his own shot, but with little experience at this level it may take some time for him to get comfortable with what will be asked from him. However, he’s more than capable of figuring it out and once he does, it’ll help him in becoming a real threat for this team coming off the bench.
Senior forwards and centers Trenton Hough, Erik Siekkinen and Luke Harter give HRV some much needed toughness. Both standing at six feet, two inches, the two are built around muscle and physicality. The Eagles are going to stumble across some physical teams throughout the long season and heads will turn their way when that day comes.
On top of the physical nature these two bring to the team, Hough is someone that can knock down an open jump shot and go up strong at the rim. Siekkinen is also an attacker at the rim and often finds his way around the hoop for easy opportunities.
Dakota Kurahara and Carson Orr are the big men who will hold down the paint for HRV along with Hough and Siekkinen. With both players standing at six feet, six inches, there’s a consistent presence felt at the center position for the Eagles.
Although Kurahara and Orr aren’t the heaviest of centers, they do counter their lack of weight with the ability to bring the opposing center out of the paint and stretch the floor.
Also, both are very lengthy, so even with being lighter than some opposing centers, they often will have not only a quickness advantage on defense, but will be able to make up for any disadvantage they have with weight with their long body frames.
Dirks will lean on the length, speed, shooting, decision making and effort from these boys throughout the season.
The boys’ first game is at Vannet Court Wednesday, Nov. 29 against Sandy. The boys will tip-off at 7 p.m. The HRV girls varsity team will also open their season at home against Sandy at 5:30 p.m.
2017-18 HRV Varsity Roster
Peiyton Slatt, senior guard (0), JJ Mears, 5-10 senior guard (3), Noah Webster, sophomore wing (4), German Diaz, junior wing (5), Carson Orr, 6-6 senior center (10), Carson Flores, 5-9 junior guard (11), Erik Siekkinen, 6-2 senior forward (12), Tanner Wells, 6-2 senior forward (23), Trenton Hough, 6-2 senior forward (25), Luke Harter, senior center (32), Jonah Tactay, 6-1 senior wing (33), Braxton Wilson, 5-9 senior guard (35) and Dakota Kurahara, 6-6 senior center (41).
HRV plays their first game at home on Nov. 29 against Sandy, last year’s number 12 ranked team in 5A OSAA standings.
On Dec. 18, the boys travel to Newberg and face 6A Franklin in the opening round of the Newberg Tournament.
About mid-way through the season, on Jan. 5, the boys have a tough out of conference road game against Woodburn. Last year, Woodburn went 12-12 and have consistently been a team prided around effort, which means there’s going to be some excitement in that Woodburn gym.
HRV open league play at home happens Jan. 18 against a Pendleton team who went undefeated in last year’s conference play and advanced to the first round of the 5A state playoffs.
The Eagles then get about a week to prepare for the Hermiston Bulldogs who travel to Vannet Court on Jan. 26.
Then HRV renews their rivalry with The Dalles, as they travel to The Pit on Jan. 30.