Just a short four years ago, Redmond boys basketball coach Reagan Gilbertson was giddy watching a young eighth grader on the hardwood.
Coming up the pipeline was Garrett Osborne.
“I could just tell by the way he moves on the court, the way he handled the ball, finished around the rim, that he was going to be a big part of our program for four years,” said Gilbertson.
And exactly that has happened.
Osborne began as a role player on varsity as a freshman, then went from a second-team all-conference player as a sophomore to the Intermountain Conference’s first-team as a junior. How far the Panthers go this season could be determined by how their 6-foot-3 combo guard plays in his final season.
“As he goes, we go,” said Gilbertson.
The college prospect headed for Oregon Tech is leading the charge for what the sixth-year head coach called his most athletic team in recent memory and what Osborne believes is one of the better teams in the IMC and in Class 5A .
“We are big, athletic and can get out and run,” said Osborne. “We are really solid. I think we are a top-10 team in the state and have a chance to win league. I know we can compete with other teams.”
The Panthers have won seven of their 12 nonleague games this season with three of their losses coming to 6A teams Mountain View (twice) and Summit. Still, since Dec. 7 the Panthers have been a fixture in the OSAA coaches poll, reaching as high as No. 6 earlier this week.
There has been a steady ascension of the basketball program since joining the reconfigured IMC in 2018. That year, the Panthers finished fourth in the conference, the next year third, and last spring they finished second to Crook County.
While the team’s sights are set on winning a league title, there have been some growing pains through the team’s first games of the season.
In a rematch against Mountain View Wednesday evening in the Oregon Holiday Hoopfest at Summit High, the pains showed in the first quarter when Mountain View jumped out to a 16-6 lead. And while the Panthers rallied in the second quarter to take a 22-21 lead into halftime, Mountain View recaptured the lead in the third quarter and cruised to a 51-44 win.
Gilbertson was a little unsure why his team came out flat in a rematch against the Cougars. It is an issue that needs to be fixed prior to league play.
“We have to be ready to play every night. We can’t just go into games just to have fun. We have to execute our systems and play hard,” said Gilbertson. “Winning and losing isn’t that important right now, it is all about getting our team ready for the league.”
It is still a rather inexperienced team with Osborne being the only returning starter from last year’s squad. With players like guards Yoshi Saito, Tanner Jones and 6-foot-8 big man Evan Otten taking on bigger roles this season, there is confidence that those growing pains will not be around in the second half of the season.
“Not all of us are ready for varsity pressure quite yet,” said Osborne. “But we will get better the more that we play.”