With only one player back from the 2017-18 season, you might think the Ridgeview boys basketball team is in for a long campaign. But with the momentum the school had in fall sports, discount the Ravens at your own risk.
“Because basketball season is so long, I think we can make progress toward the ultimate goal of competing for a league title,” said Ridgeview coach Jake Miller, who took over with eight games to play last season. “With our new league lineup, that’s something that’s not out of the question.”
Such a goal will require a big season from post Payton Davis, the Ravens’ only varsity returnee and only senior. Davis, an honorable mention all-Intermountain Conference player in 2017-18, has high expectations for himself, with an objective of earning the league’s most valuable player award.
“I want to show everyone that I can lead this team and show them a good example,” said Davis, fresh off a football season where he was named second-team all-division and honorable mention all-league. “I want to show them how to step into that leadership role.”
No. 27 Ridgeview (0-3) got the season off to a rough start Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 against three other Class 5A teams at a tournament in Wilsonville. The Ravens fell 103-43 against the No. 5 host Wildcats, 75-31 against No. 23 Crescent Valley and 95-24 against No. 19 Springfield.
Ridgeview returns to the court at home at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4 against Bend. The Ravens play again Friday at Thurston in Springfield.
Ridgeview is looking to improve on a 1-11 IMC record (4-19 overall) in the 2017-18 season. After Miller, who was in his second year as an assistant at Ridgeview, became head coach when John Nelson resigned, the Ravens won their first league game since 2016, a 56-47 Feb. 2 victory at Redmond.
With 10 seniors graduated from that team, Miller has a largely clean slate to work with.
“I think, from day 1, the most important thing we’ve been talking about is showing up every day with the mindset of improving,” he said after the Ravens’ ninth practice last week. “A lot of these guys are in spots with a lot to learn, but they’re pretty eager learners.”
With the larger Bend schools gone, the Ravens figure to have more opportunities for victories this season. Ridgeview has already taken advantage of the new IMC lineup to win league titles in volleyball and boys and girls soccer this fall, while the football team earned a playoff spot against a different league configuration made up of Redmond schools and teams west of the Cascades.
Sophomore wing Nolan Conroyd sees the new conference alignment as an opportunity for the Ravens.
“The Bend schools were pretty big and we’re pretty small,” he said. “It seems we’re capable of winning more games and being competitive.”
Along with Davis, several other players who tasted success in football and soccer are on the basketball roster.
So is there pressure on the basketball team to equal the success of fall sports?
“I wouldn’t say there’s pressure, I would say those fall teams showed us how to win and how to play with anybody,” Davis said. “We’re using that motivation to push us.”
The young players will need to keep their confidence up through any challenges, said junior guard Kevin Edmondson, who was an honorable mention all-division defensive back in football.
“This team has a lot of inexperience and young guys, but they still are willing to work just as hard and want success,” he said.
Conroyd and sophomore wing Caleb Carpenter are among the young players Miller has been impressed with. Conroyd displays natural athleticism, while Carpenter is the team’s best defender, Miller said.
Players are still competing to see who will be in the final rotation.
“There are a bunch of roles and playing time to be determined,” Miller said.
Miller, a social studies teacher, has served as an assistant boys coach and head girls coach at Stayton, before being an assistant boys coach at Central Catholic in Portland for five years. He said he loves teaching and coaching defense, as well as building good relationships with players based on trust and accountability.
“I want to be known for being a really tough defensive team,” Miller said.
— Reporter: 541-548-2186, firstname.lastname@example.org