The Bowmen have a strong group of talented returnees

SHERWOOD — The Sherwood High School boys basketball team boasts a roster full of talented athletes.

The Bowmen also are coming off a prosperous summer. They also have what looks to be a close-knit roster of players.

So, it’s no wonder that Sherwood coach Tony Merrill seems to be brimming with optimism as he looks ahead to the 2013-2014 season.

“I’m really looking forward to a fun season,” he said. “We had a very fun and successful summer and have developed some great team chemistry on and off the floor.”

by: DAN BROOD - MAN IN THE MIDDLE -- Sherwood High School senior Jordan Kurahara (30), a 6-foot-9 senior post, could be a key player for the Bowmen boys basketball team this season. The Bowmen also have a strong group of returnees from last year’s squad that finished in third place in the final Northwest Oregon Conference standings at 9-5 while going 15-10 on the season.

Among those returnees is senior post Jordan Kurahara (6-foot-9), who was a second-team All-NWOC selection last year as a junior.

“He’s our big man down low — our ‘go to’ guy,” Merrill said.

Senior forward Lucas Johnson (6-6) should be another key returnee.

“He may be our best all-around offensive player with a solid skill set and ability to hit shots from anywhere,” Merrill said.

Junior Evan Kitto (5-11) returns at point guard.

“He’s an excellent perimeter defender and has gotten bigger and stronger,” Merrill said.

Senior football standout Keegan Lawrence (6-1) should be another key returnee, especially on the defensive end of the court.

“He will be our best perimeter defender and one of our top rebounders,” Merrill said. “He’s very athletic and tough as nails. He brings the physicality that is going to be critical to our team defense and rebounding.”

Senior guard Alex Castaneda (6-1) is in his third year on the Sherwood varsity roster.

“He’s a solid all-around player who will team with Lawrence and Kitto to give us a very solid defense on the perimeter,” Merrill said.

Senior guard Cortland Hutchison (6-0), who saw some varsity action last year, could have a big role this year.

“He’s a hard worker who is an excellent shooter and finisher around the basket,” Merrill said.

Among the key newcomers for the Bowmen is junior guard Ben Milligan (6-4).

“He’s another long, athletic wing who can shoot it and get to the basket,” Merrill said.

Junior guard Tommy Paul (6-4) could be another key newcomer to the team.

“He’s a long, athletic player who shoots it very well and plays very well along side Milligan,” Merrill said.

The Bowmen varsity roster also includes junior forward Matthew Brooks (6-4) and junior guard Evan Thomson (6-0).

Lawrence, Johnson and Kitto will serve as team captains.

“They all have varsity experience and all have won state championships in either football or baseball, or both,” Merrill said. “They are excellent leaders who have the experience to understand what it takes to compete at this level.”

Kurahara, who also has been part of a Sherwood state championship football team, could be the most pivotable player for the Bowmen this basketball season.

“Our strength on the floor begins with Kurahara,” Merrill said. “Our ability to play through him in the post will be key. Our ability to shoot from the perimeter is a great combination to our low-post strength, so we should be able to spread the floor and force opponents to defend a lot of space.

“We are versatile on offense, but will need to develop our team defense and ability to rebound consistently. Physical teams will challenge us in the paint and on the boards, and we need to meet those challenges.”

As for the NWOC this year, Merrill sees a competitive battle for the top spots.

“It’s a tough league, as always,” he said. “It should be very balanced with everyone being competitive. It will come down to who can win the close games and who stays healthy.”

Sherwood opened its season Friday with a 58-28 win over Glencoe in a non-league game played at Sherwood High School.

Kitto and Johnson each scored 15 points for the Bowmen in the victory, with Kitto shooting at a 5-for-6 clip from three-point range. Hutchison and Kurahara added seven points apiece.

On Tuesday, Sherwood won 58-48 at Silverton. Kitto scored 18 points in that victory and Johnson added 12.

The Bowmen will be back in action Tuesday when they host West Salem in a non-league game starting at 7:15 p.m. at Sherwood High School.

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