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Gladstone guys are proving that they can compete in preseason

by: JOHN DENNY - Gladstone co-captains (from left) Trevor Browning, D.J. Williams and Michael Stoutt say they expect Gladstone to contend with La Salle and Molalla for one of the top spots in Tri-Valley Conference boys basketball, despite playing on a team with limited varsity experience.If success at the jayvee level means anything, Gladstone High School’s boys basketball team should figure in the mix in the battle for supremacy in the Tri-Valley Conference this winter.

Last year’s jayvees went 20-2 on the season, their only losses in two close games with La Salle.

“It was a three-way tie [at the jayvee level] for first place in league,” Gladstone varsity head coach Ted Yates said. “La Salle beat Gladstone twice, Gladstone beat Madras twice and Madras beat La Salle twice.”

“The jayvee did real good last year,” said Gladstone junior co-captain Trevor Browning. “We lost two games, both to La Salle — the first time by two points and the second time by three.”

Gladstone also had success at the jayvee-II level last year, going 14-4, with only two league losses — splitting with La Salle and Molalla.

Senior captain Michael Stoutt (5-10 guard) is the only returning full-time player from last year’s varsity.

“We’re young, but we’ll be good,” said Stoutt, who started on varsity a year ago. “We had a lot of seniors last year, but we’re going to be better this year. We play more as a team, and we’re a lot faster....”

“In our first game, we had 10 guys who were playing their first varsity game,” Yates observed.

“We have a lot better chemistry,” Stoutt said. “We don’t have a go-to guy. Everyone can play and everyone can shoot — and make it.”

Longtime Gladstone coach Rick Priester, who coached last year’s jayvee, said of the athletes who played for him a year ago: “They weren’t very big, but they worked really, really hard, and they played hard....

“We didn’t have any really true post guy, but we were really quick, and we pressed a lot.”

Yates says he likes what he’s seen from this year’s varsity so far: “We are very athletic; we defend very, very well; and we play hard. I have not been displeased with our effort.”

After dropping their first two games of the season — 59-50 to sixth-ranked Astoria and 54-37 to 12th-ranked Philomath, Yates’ Gladiators won their next two preseason games, defeating Sisters (53-47) and Crook County (50-34). Crook County had gone 5-1, averaging 54 points a game before the loss to Gladstone; Sisters placed fifth at last year’s state tournament.”

“We pressed wire-to-wire against Sisters and Crook County,” Yates said. “We wore them down.”

Yates noted that his height-challenged Gladiators out-rebounded a Crook County team that had players standing 6-7, 6-5, 6-4 and 6-2 in their starting lineup.

He said that Gladstone out-scored Crook County 31-12 in the second half, after trailing 22-19 at halftime.

“They got tired and threw the ball away [in the second half],” he said.

The Gladiators held their own with Sisters despite have to battle Eli Harrison, a 6-5 wing who is headed to Dartmouth.

Yates says he’s got good depth, which allows him to put nine to 10 different players on the floor without a loss in performance or intensity.

He’s been going with a starting lineup of 5-8 sophomore Handsome Smith at point guard, Stout and 5-10 junior Trevor Browning at guard, and 6-2 senior Kobe Williams, 6-1 senior Jacob Kelly and 6-4 junior Ryun Gibson taking turns at post.

Browning swung between jayvee and varsity teams last year.

Smith, Williams, Kelly and Gibson move up from last year’s successful jayvee team, along with juniors Andrew Conway (6-1 forward) and Austin Galvin (5-9 guard), and sophomore Sean Williams (6-1 guard).

Rounding out the roster are 5-8 senior guard D.J. Williams, who wrestled last year; 6-1 senior guard Robert Staehle, who did not play last year; and 6-0 junior forward Ryan Fowler, who was on last year’s jayvee-II team.

Gibson has been the most consistent player for the Gladiators so far in preseason, averaging 11.8 points and scoring in double figures in each of the Gladiators’ first four games. He and Kobe Williams teamed up to haul down 16 rebounds in the Crook County game.

Stoutt and Kobe Williams have also been consistent point-getters for the Gladiators.

Still a little rough from football, Yates says that fouls proved the difference in the first-of-the-season loss to Astoria.

“They were 24-of-37 from the line,” Yates said. “We were 3-of-7. We had four guys foul out.”

“Our goals are to be first or second in league, and to be a better practice team [than last year],” Stoutt said. “Because it all starts in practice.”

Stoutt added, “Coach Yates is more vocal [than former head coach Karl Schmidtman]. If you’re doing something wrong, he lets you know. And that’s good for us, because we learn from our mistakes.”

The Gladiators travel to Cascade for a tournament this Friday and Saturday.

They have four preseason games scheduled in January, at home with Tillamook (Jan. 8) and Yamhill-Carlton (Jan. 11), and at Seaside (Jan. 4) and Banks (Jan. 10).

League play begins Tuesday, Jan. 15, when the Gladiators entertain cross-town rival La Salle.

“La Salle will obviously be the favorite [in league],” Yates said. “They are big, strong and quick. Molalla and Estacada have been winning some games, and all three of those teams bring back experienced players from last year....

“Whether or not we win on the scoreboard, I know we will come out and play hard from baseline to baseline.”

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