First-year coach Bradley Dunn-meier is looking to take the Lady Braves to new heights in 2006-07

Bradley Dunn-meier's coaching career began 28 years ago in rural Montana, at the helm of a girls basketball program not entirely unlike the one in Banks.

Now, after a three-year pit stop at Century High School, Dunn-meier will go back to his roots and test his abilities as the new head coach of the Lady Braves.

'I must have looked at 18 different schools,' he said of his search for a new coaching job. 'I would watch teams play on my off nights and found myself impressed with the Banks team.'

Dunn-meier recalled watching Banks play a thrilling game against Philomath - a team that would go on to finish second in the state - last season and thinking that the Lady Braves had something to offer.

'They went into double overtime and poured everything into that game,' he said. 'It was great to watch and I saw something in those girls. They were coachable, they had passion.'

Leaders for this year's Banks team include versatile senior Katie Brower, who prefers to play guard but is also a good wing, according to Dunn-meier. Amber Craft will also contribute this season, returning to practice recently after recovering from an injury sustained last year. Andrea O'Connor, a volleyball standout, will use her skills in the air to help the Braves and sophomore Whitney Blok will also be a major factor despite her novice status.

Another exciting point for Dunn-meier is that he has been able to field three teams this season, with 25 combined players. Assistant coach Trisha Jennings will coach the JV team and lend a hand on the varsity squad, while Patty Hayden and Carol Lorenz will take over the other JV squad.

'I'm just really excited about the prospects we have coming up,' said Dunn-meier. 'The JV teams as well as the sixth- and seventh-graders we have in the middle school. Those sixth- and seventh-graders are already learning the ins and outs of the high school offense and defense they are aspiring to be a part of.'

Taking a page from his idol Dean Smith, Dunn-meier is preparing his team for anything and everything.

'I am trying to prepare them for any situation,' he said, adding that he always limits practices to two hours, just as Smith did for 36 seasons at North Carolina. 'After that focus and retention are lost and the practice loses its value.'

Dunn-meier is also borrowing a bit from the game of poker, as he does not want to tip his hand or give rival teams the chance to pinpoint ahead of time what the Lady Braves will do on the court.

'I'm not going to play my preseason and regular season the same way,' he said. 'I don't want to give the other teams that kind of advantage.'

The final element Dunn-meier is trying to instill in his young team is respect for referees. Having been a ref himself, Dunn-meier wants his team to understand that officials are human, therefore bound to make mistakes. The key, he said, is not getting upset at those mistakes.

Banks opened the season on Tuesday against North Marion, and will square off against Molalla on Thursday in another early-season tune-up. Cowapa play will begin Jan. 19 with a showdown against league newcomer Yamhill-Carlton.

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