The boys basketball team at Central Christian School had a tough break this year, but the Tigers have reason to be optimistic about the future.

The Tigers finished in sixth place in the nine-team Mountain Valley League. In the past, that would have put them in position for a postseason berth, but a 7-3 vote by coaches before the season limited the league to three postseason spots.

“It is what it is,” said fourth-year Central Christian coach Brian Delamarter, who took the Tigers to the postseason after the 2017-18 season. “You kind of fell like everybody’s got the same opportunity to make the top 3.”

Overall, Delamarter is pleased with the Tigers’ (7-9 Mountain Valley, 10-12 overall) play this season, which is just two years removed from a 2-17 overall campaign in 2016-17.

“We’ve competed at a fairly high level, not so much against Trinity (Lutheran), but we can throw our schedule against anyone in the state and say we’ve played at a pretty high level,” he said.

While Central Christian lost handily both times it played Trinity Lutheran, ranked No. 7 in Class 1A, the No. 28 Tigers were competitive in games against No. 2 Damascus Christian and No. 13 Arlington.

One long standing issue for Central Christian could soon be a thing of the past. The Tigers have practiced at church gyms and played games at the Redmond Early Learning Center, across town from their school near Redmond Municipal Airport.

But the 27-year-old school is planning to start work this year on converting a 14,000 former office building, located next to the existing school, into a gymnasium and new music room.

“Having to practice at multiple spots and not having your own gym and now, prayerfully, having that will be a positive step in the right direction,” Delamarter said.

How quickly the building is renovated depends partly on the sale of two properties, one a building at Eagle Crest, the other 55 acres the school is planning to sell off Highway 97 on the north end of town. According to Spokesman archives, the school previously considered building a new campus at the north-end site as part of a larger development.

They would like to start construction by early summer and have the gym open by fall, Delamarter said.

The new 400-to-500 seat gym will allow Central Christian to run multiple practices at the same time, including for middle school teams, Delamarter said.

“It won’t be just solely for our sports teams,” he said. “There will be plenty of other events we can host that we now have to have outside of school.”

Along with the gym and music room, the new building will have a lobby, full weight room, kitchen and storage area, Delamarter said. Among the challenges of the project will be raising the gym’s ceiling to Oregon School Activities Association standards.

The players are looking forward to having a nearby facility.

“It will be nice not having to travel to RELC, being able to walk right over,” said junior Jace Mills, who leads the Tigers in scoring at around 18 points per game.

The new gym will help the players in practice and might even be an enticement to some kids who would now play at other schools, Delamarter said.

“We only get a certain amount of time at RELC,” he said. “If we can get here at 6:30 in the morning and shoot a couple hundred shots before school, that will help.”

The early practices will make a significant difference, said sophomore Josh Biever, who is averaging 16 points a game.

“It’s hard to just go shoot around,” he said.

Biever has also seen the way things operate at larger schools. He was a first-team all-division running back at Ridgeview in the 2018 season.

The new gym will also provide a home court advantage that’s tough for Central Christian to find in a building it borrows, Delamarter said.

“It will be nice to step on the court with the big tiger in the middle,” he said.

With the new gym and eighth grade players moving up, the program looks to grow by adding a junior varsity program in the future, Delamarter said. Central Christian is only losing three seniors from its nine-man roster.

— Reporter: 541-548-2186, gfolsom@redmondspokesman.com

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