Braves crave more victories

Banks boys are gunning to improve on last season's disappointing 5-17 record

After closing the 2005-06 season with just five wins, the Banks boys basketball team and head coach Norm Ballou are looking to their younger players to strengthen the team's play and contribute in big ways on the hardwood.

Ballou spent 12 years of his illustrious career with Portland Adventist Academy, coaching the Cougars to numerous league championships and one state championship in 1996. This year, Ballou is looking to use his championship experience to guide the Braves to an improved season.

The key, according to Ballou, will be younger players stepping up to assist senior All-League standout Jeff Stradling.

'It could come from any number of guys,' said Ballou. 'Someone is going to have to step up and help out Stradling.'

That contribution could come from any one of four sophomores who have worked their way onto the varsity squad after spending last season with the JV team. Gabe Linehan, Thomas Moore, Jared Rue and Neal Hammond will be looked on as producers for the Braves this year.

'Meaningful minutes, productive minutes - that is what I'm looking for out of these guys,' said Ballou.

Futher leadership will come from Carl Rupp and Bryce Shuland, seniors who contributed to last season's efforts. Coupled with the youth and determination that have joined the varsity ranks, Ballou thinks this season looks promising.

Also returning to the hardwood this season will be assistant coaches Pat Marlia and Jonathan Pearson, who helped Ballou last year and now have a full season under their belts.

'The guys know the system better, which makes practices easier and more effective,' said Ballou, who added that the transition from his first season to his second should help the team be more effective. 'The players have the opportunity to know what to expect day-in and day-out, and can better prepare themselves for the season.'

One factor not to be overlooked is the addition of perennial powerhouse Yamhill-Carlton to an already tough Cowapa League. Luckily, the Braves have until January to prepare for that showdown with the Tigers.