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Despite winless record, the Cougars already looking forward for their next opportunity to get on the court

At the conclusion of the Gervais boys basketball team's 49-44 loss to Delphian on Thursday, the Cougars were already looking ahead to summer basketball.

PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais sophomore Brian Limage gave the Cougars a defensive presence in the paint, averaging four blocks per game this season.The loss to the Dragons may have closed the book on an 0-24 season for Gervais, but the Cougars realized long ago that the value of the 2018-19 season would not be measured in the win column.

"They kind of figured that in late December," Gervais head coach Ben Schultz said. "They knew we weren't going to be very good as far as wins and losses were concerned. They started focusing on getting better and learning what they had to do."

At this time last year, the Cougars were putting the wraps on its final season as a 3A basketball team. Though Gervais had missed the league playoffs, the team had posted a respectable 3-5 record in the final three weeks of the season and was scheduled to return all but three seniors.

But after a summer of off-season transfers decimated the team's projected starting lineup, the Cougars' young bench players were in for a stark awakening. Instead of slowly building their confidence through scant varsity minutes and ample junior varsity time, the team's role players were being thrust into an unexpected starting gig.

"I asked them to go from sitting on the bench, to now you're playing 30 minutes a night," Schultz said. "That was a big jump."

Though the team was moving down a classification, the 2A Tri-River Conference was less brutal than the 3A PacWest Conference that Gervais had left.

The Cougars had little time to acclimate to their new roles and learned quickly not to measure their success by the final score, but by individual improvements throughout the season. Instead of learning from the sidelines and in mop up time at the end of games, this year's team was getting full in-game practice against some of the best 2A teams in the state, night in and night out.

PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais sophomore Auggie Guido was one of the team's most productive offensive players, averaging close to seven points and seven rebounds per game this year."We had to measure it on looking at yourself as a team and individuals, and if we progressed from day one to the last," Schultz said. "Every single one of them progressed. They got better."

Though Schultz was hoping to send his three seniors — Apolinary Makaroff, Armando Tarula and Alejandro Contreras — out with a win over Delphian to close out the season, the trio had embraced the fact that this was going to be a learning season, the fruits of which would pay off in the future.

With sophomores Auggie Guido and Brian Limage leading the way from the post, sophomore Damian Tavera bringing up the ball and junior Xaden Ramon providing the team an athletic x-factor, this year's Cougars are in the same place the team was last year — eager to get back to work and prove that the end of the season was just the beginning.

"They were able to know from the very beginning that the wins might not be there, but we were building for next year," Schultz said. "This way they'll have that varsity experience and won't be shell shocked next year."

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