Practices start slowly with many latecomers

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Scappoose Coach Rahim Tufts runs a drill during practice at Scappoose High recently. The Indians host St. Helens this Wednesday.Putting together this year’s Scappoose boys’ basketball team may be a little like assembling a jigsaw puzzle with a couple of pieces missing.

Second-year Scappoose coach Rahim Tufts is pleased with what he’s seen so far and expects the Tribe to be competitive in the league, but it may take some time.

The Indians had several varsity players in the football playoffs, and others out for a variety of reasons. With the football season over, the Tribe is now working on gettting up to speed.

Last year, the Indians tied Seaside for the Cowapa League championship and beat them in the playoffs. They posted a play-in win over North Marion, then were defeated at North Bend in a game they led in the fourth quarter.

The Indians lost seven seniors from last year’s team, including five that saw considerable action. Those players provided the heart and the leadership for the team. Fortunately, Tufts noted, the rest of the league also lost a lot of players.

“Practices are going well,” Tufts said. “We’re working hard on being extremely competitive, and pushing hard to improve—which has been great.”

The coach has divided the team into 15 freshmen, and 15 players split between varsity and jayvee squads. There wereeight or nine players still on the football team at that time.

The Indians were a more guard-oriented team last season without a lot of height. They only had one player at 6-foot, 3-inches, and one at 6-2.

That could change this season if some of the younger players work out. Tufts said he has sophomores at 6-4 and 6-7, and a 6-7 junior. They’ll probably start out the season mostly on the jayvee team, but could work themselves onto the varsity as they gain experience.

The Indians do return all-league guard Zach Smith, plus Paul Revis, Kyle Kramer, and Taylor Loss. The latter three were football players, arriving a bit later than most of team.

“The nice thing is that we had a lot of seniors and a couple of juniors that worked hard through the spring, summer, and fall to show us they’re ready to play and ready for the varsity,” Tufts pointed out.

Football players had the option of taking a week off, but Tufts said some of them were out the day after football ended.

“I’m really optimistic (about the team),” Tufts said. “We have an extremely difficult preseason schedule and it will be interesting to see how it goes. It’s a learning process, especially for those new to playing varsity. By the time league rolls around we should be battle tested and ready to rock.”

The Indians are slated to host longtime rival St. Helens in an endowment game on Wednesday, Nov 28.

Tufts said he would have liked to push that back, but will go with the players he has have available. Most of the team was back within a week of the last football game, and working on getting up to speed.

The upside of being without some players at the start of practice is that his less-experienced players, including the posts, could gain some valuable varsity experience.

“We’ll definitely have some of those guys in there stepping up,” he said. “It’ll be a great experience for them, a growing experience. They’ll learn (what it takes) to step up and do everything they can to be successful.”

Tufts has everyone on his coaching staff back this season: Tyler Baker and Frank Marcantonio, freshman coaches; Ryan Poster, jayvee coach; Weston Powers and Dickey Johnson, volunteer varsity assistants.

“I think we have a phenomenal coaching staff and a great group of kids. We want to be improving and improving. By the time league rolls around we should be a well-oiled machine.”

After the St. Helens game, Scappoose hosts Molalla, and then has trips to Estacada and Roosevelt. They follow that with a Dec. 14 home game with 5A Wilsonville, then go to R.A. Long, host Kelso, and travel to Taft. They are at the Sisters Tournament over the holidays, Dec. 27-29.

“It’s a tough preseason, but it’s going to be fun,” Tufts concluded. “We’ll learn what our weaknesses are and get ready to go to Sisters. We have a house rented over there and will do a little team bonding.”

The Jayvee and Freshmen teams will host a Holiday Tournament, Dec. 27-29. They have eight freshmen and six jayvee squads already signed up.

Teams slated to attend include Banks, Clatskanie, North Marion, R.A. Long, Southridge, Tillamook, and Yamhill-Carlton.

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