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New coach takes charge in St. Helens

Jerry Allen comes with a wealth of coaching and playing experience
by: John Brewington NEW COACH—Jerry Allen has been named the new head boys' basketball coach at St. Helens High School.

The new head coach of the St. Helens Lions' boys basketball program, Jerry Allen, brings a lot of coaching and playing experience to the table.

It's been 14 years since St. Helens High has had a new boys' basketball coach, so it's a big change for the players. However, Allen has already made contact with many of them and was in the Lions' gym early this week.

Most recently, Allen could have been seen in Scappoose, working as an assistant to Oregon's winningest coach, Mike Doherty.

'Mike and I have been friends since 1999-2000, when I served as an assistant at Oregon City,' Allen said, 'He's a dear friend.'

Allen, 43, wanted to play basketball professionally when he was younger and was the starting point guard at the University of Portland. 'One of my teammates came up to me at the end of the season and said 'you taught me a lot about basketball.' I didn't remember teaching him, but going into coaching was just a natural evolution.

Allen coached the seventh grade in Tigard in his first coaching position, and then moved up to the freshman team. Later he would be head coach at Portland Community College and Franklin High School.

Allen says he's learned a lot along the way, much of it working with or playing against some of the Northwest Oregon Conference's coaches and athletic directors.

Currently he teaches algebra and science at Astoria Middle School in Portland.

He sees potential in the returning players.

'I talked with one of the players for about half an hour the other night. I got to see a little bit of them (in the gym) and I like what I saw,' Allen said.

'Our offense depends on our personnel. If we have a big guy we'll post up, but if we have smaller guys we'll spread the floor and go with motion. The team is really going to get a heavy dose on how to play defense. If they play it my way it's hard, but it creates offense,' Allen noted.

Allen said of his coaching philosophy 'is that one of the spokes on the wheel of success is team ego. Individual ego has to be surrendered to the team. The team is bigger than ego. We're not going to be an 'I' but a 'we' team. If players can't buy into it then they are going to sit. You have to surrender your ego, if you can't do that you're not going to play a lot.'

Allen said he sets team goals, but they are a little different than just 'winning 'X' amount of games. 'We need to focus on what will happen if we do all things like executing, defending, playing hard, and competing. If we focus on those goals, I have no doubt the team victories will come.'

The Lions are playing summer ball, and Allen was already making trips to the gym and games to see where he can help.

The Lions were 2-22 last season. They only won an early-season game against 6A Gresham, and then topped Hood River Valley in a 'play-in' game before getting blown out by Benson in the second round. They finished ranked 35th out of 37 5A teams. Hood River Valley was ranked 36th.

Allen believes that a turnaround can and will come for the team this year, but knows it will take some work.