The Central Christian School boys basketball team started the season red hot, then had a bit of a hiccup. Now the Tigers enter the second half of their conference season on solid footing.
The Tigers (5-3 league, 11-3 overall) were in a tight battle for third place in the Class 1A Mountain Valley League going in to their Jan. 21 game at Hosanna Christian. No. 11 Central Christian started the 2019-20 season 9-0 before losses against No. 8 North Lake, No. 2 Trinity Lutheran and No. 4 Triad.
But the Tigers rebounded with a Jan. 11 victory against Paisley, before cancellations impacted last weekend's games.
“Obviously, Trinity and Triad are really good,” said fifth-year Central Christian coach Brian Delamarter. “We weren’t super successful against them our first go round, but we’ll give it another shot.”
The Tigers have seen steady improvement since going 2-17 in the 2016-17 season, but are on track for a league playoff spot, though they aren’t exactly how many teams make it.
Delamarter said last week that they tried not to get too excited after the strong early record.
“Obviously, we played a group of teams at the beginning of the year that are usually pretty good but are a little bit down this year,” he said.
The Tigers start to get their second chance against teams that defeated them when they play host to Trinity Lutheran Tuesday Jan. 28 at the Redmond Early Learning Center. To be more successful in their second try, Delamarter said Central Christian will need to reduce turnovers.
“We’re starting to watch game film and adjust to some of the things we didn’t do great,” he said.
Among Central Christian’s top players is junior point guard Josh Biever, who also is a star running back for Ridgeview’s football team.
“We just have a better mindset of basketball,” Biever said. “We work pretty hard and we’ve kind of built on that since my freshman year.”
Senior forward Jace Mills has also been a key player, and the team has gotten key three-point shots from senior guard Casey Johnson, Delamarter said. The Tigers suffered a setback with the recent injury of senior guard Ethan Daniels.
The Tigers will work harder with the loss of Daniels, Biever said.
“That doesn’t change our mentality when it comes to games,” he said. “If we get things done, we can have a really good season.”
A big reason for Central Christian’s improvement over the years has been getting more commitment from players in the offseason.
With the Tigers’ new gymnasium on their campus near Redmond Municipal Airport, getting in offseason work will be easier. They will no longer have to play games across town or use a church for practice.
A new roof is being built on the former office building, which will also house a weight room and some classrooms. The eight-foot roof raise will allow the gym to comply with Oregon School Activities Association requirements.
“I think it’s going to benefit us hugely as we move forward,” Delamarter said.