Tryouts for Hood River Valley’s varsity basketball squad tipped off Monday. Christopher Dirks, head coach for the Eagles, said he’s not a fan of cutting kids and that these are his least favorite days of the year.
This year, the Eagle squad is in search of new players after graduating seniors left the team.
“We graduated a couple guys who averaged a combined 35 points and 20 rebounds,” Dirks said. “So those are going to be some big shoes to fill.”
Players who graduated include German Diaz, Carson Flores, Brandon Rivera, Brandon Smiley and Christian Zack. The Eagles do, however, have returning talent that will be beneficial to the team, Dirks said.
“Returning seniors, we have Noah Webster, who finished second in the all-conference voting last year,” Dirks said. “Cruise Hawk got honorable mention last year, Luke Ellswoth was a swinger last year and started to get some more varsity minutes towards the end of the season and then Brayden Rose, we’re hoping he contributes a little bit too.”
Junior Jack Siekkinen and senior Ian Searcy are also expected to help the team. Both have been playing ball since their sophomore year and have some varsity experience, Dirks said.
Without the game-changing players from last year, Dirks expects the team to share and pass the ball more.
Last year, the Eagle boys made the playoffs for the first time in 25 years. Dirks said he attributes the team’s success to selflessness.
“I think it was a lot of guys playing selflessly and guys working hard,” Dirks said. “We definitely were beating teams that may be a little bit more talented than us for that reason and I think it really helped having a couple of sophomores and freshman on the team see that.”
Dirks said he’ll continue to teach that fundamental skill this year.
The Eagles will host their first preseason game against Scappoose Wednesday, Dec. 4 at 7 p.m.