Two years ago, Creswell boys basketball was able to finish out their state tournament as they finished third just before all athletes were shut down due to COVID-19.
The team from that season was predominantly seniors and didn’t include virtually anyone on this current roster. Last year, the Bulldogs had two seniors for the shortened season with the majority of the group being sophomores.
Like other schools in the state, Creswell had to pause their season due to a positive COVID test within the program forcing an already condensed schedule to become even more hectic with having to get five games in nine days.
“We didn’t have the practice time that we needed to be able to get guys up to speed and things like that,” Head Coach Jesse Thomas said. “But obviously, there was a little bit of gained experience. The team got an idea of kind of what’s what it’s like to play at the varsity level, which obviously helps. And I think it encouraged them and showed them how much work they needed to do on their own to continue to improve. And so we’ve been trying to do what we can with the way things are and trying to get some skill work in and trying to do open gyms so we can and get them playing.”
Despite the roller coaster COVID has caused for high school athletes and the Creswell boys program,
Coach Thomas is enthused with the effort this group has shown early this season.
“I’m most excited about is that their effort level and their willingness to try and learn is through the roof,” said Thomas. ”We’ve had a lot of teams that had a lot of talent on them. But we always really struggled to get them as an entire group to play harder so that talent could be maximized. And quite honestly that third-place team from 2019-20, when they finally put it together, the effort level that they needed to play at combined with their talent level that’s when we ended up placing third in the state. So what I’m hoping for, is that these kids start to learn the effort level that you need to play at and this group is doing that, they’re working their butts off, and they’re really learning very quickly, which is nice. We’re a lot further along after one week than I anticipated us being which is good.”
Similar to last year, this year’s boys team will feature two seniors Caleb Lee and Jayden Pratt and now with another year under their belt, juniors Connor Hanson, Jack Nguyen, Ajay Hodge, and Max Velarde will look to continue growing into their roles as the Bulldogs aim for a top spot in the Mountain Valley Conference.
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