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Veteran Wolves looking for big things this year

Boys basketball: With a strong group of returnees, Tualatin carries some high hopes
by: DAN BROOD IN CHARGE — Senior returnee Nathan Suyematsu will run the Tualatin offense from his point guard spot.

TUALATIN - The Timberwolves hope it's a good sign.

It's experience, that is.

The Tualatin High School boys basketball team boasts a good amount of it this year. And, historically, that's turned out to be a good thing for the Wolves.

'We have a lot of veteran experience,' Tualatin coach Rick Osborn said. 'Usually in the past, that's been a good indicator for us.'

Not only does Tualatin have experience this year, but the Wolves also look to have depth in the post and some talented players in the backcourt. That has Tualatin looking optimistically at the 2011-2012 season.

'I think we could be pretty good,' Osborn said. 'Our strength could be our inside play, and, hopefully, we'll be a good defensive team.'

Among the key returnees from last year's Tualatin team that went 14-10 on the season, and 9-5 in Pacific Conference play, is senior post Brody Richter (6-foot-4), who was an honorable mention all-league pick last year.

'Athletically, he can just do things that a lot of kids can't do,' Osborn said of Richter, who is in his third season on the Tualatin varsity. 'He's incredibly strong, he's quick and he has long arms. He can be an imposing player for us.'

Senior point guard Nathan Suyematsu (5-11) also starts his third year on the Tualatin varsity.

'He's an extremely smart player,' Osborn said. 'Nathan is probably our most indispensable player.'

Senior Brandon Durdel (5-11) could be another key player for the Wolves.

'We build our defense around a defensive stopper,' Osborn said. 'At the start, we didn't know who that would be. We challenged Brandon, and he's taking that role on right now.'

The Wolves have another key returnee is junior guard Connor Scott (6-0).

'He's worked hard in the offseason,' Osborn said. 'He took the loss to Clackamas (last year, in the state playoffs) really hard. He said he wouldn't let it happen again.'

Tualatin should also have plenty of depth in the post with senior returnees Spencer Bateman (6-3) and Jacob Gifford (6-4), as well as senior newcomer Brad Barrow (6-3), joining Richter there.

'Our inside play could be a strength,' Osborn said. 'We're adding Brad to go with Brady, Jacob and Spencer.'

Other players on the Tualatin varsity include junior Scott Allred (5-11), senior Drew Ness (5-9), junior Randall Tainer (6-0), junior C.J. Michael (6-1) and junior Jack McDonnell (6-3).

As for the Pacific Conference this year, Osborn sees another competitive battle for the top spots like last year, when Glencoe and McMinnville each went 10-4 to tie for first.

'It could be kind of like last year - wide open,' Osborn said. 'Century had a real good JV group last year and they have their two guards (Jamel Liggins and Madison McCaffrey) back. They'll be good. Tigard will be pretty good. The thing about Tigard, and hopefully us, is that they get stronger throughout the season. By January or February, Tigard will be real good.'

Tualatin is scheduled to open its Pacific Conference season Dec. 3 when it plays at McMinnville at 7:15 p.m.