Photo by Sverre Bakke
The Bruins in 2014-15 are (front, l-r) Tanner Rabinowitz, Aidan Trummel, Miguel Gomez-Perez, Ulices Isordia, Sam Rowlen, Brady Trullinger; (back) Tristan Bond, Blake Walker, Jabal Gilbert, Riley Haner, and Ryan Lockman. The Bruins are coached by Dave Garwood.
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Twelve games. That’s how many games the Columbia High boys varsity basketball team played between Dec. 3 and Jan. 3.
The Bruins went 3-9 in those games, starting with a season-opening home win against the Riverside Pirates from Boardman, Ore., and ending with a 12-point loss at home to 2A Hockinson.
The three victories, though, came in non-league play. In 1A Trico League games, the Bruins are off to an 0-4 start: two losses here and two on the road. They were competitive in every game except one -- a 26-point loss at Seton Catholic on Dec. 23.
The long view, though, is that somewhere between CHS’s Dec. 3 win over Board-man and its Dec. 30 blowout win at county rival Golden-dale is a team that could make a run at a Southwest District tournament berth in January and February.
Columbia is led by 6-3 senior forward Ryan Lockman, who was the Bruins’ leading scorer through their first eight games. After missing two games, the 2013-14 All- Trico honorable mention selection picked up where he left off against Goldendale and Hockinson. In 10 games, Lockman is averaged 21.3 points per game (ppg). His season high was 28 in a Trico loss to Stevenson.
Six-four junior center Jabal Gilbert, who also missed time in December because of an ankle sprain, picked up the scoring slack in Lockman’s absence. In 10 games (including the Kalama game that he left in the opening quarter with an ankle sprain), Gilbert put the ball in the basket at a 9.4 ppg clip.
Senior center Blake Walker (6-3) also has had his moments; he tallied three double-digit scoring efforts in the season’s first month (with a high of 12 points), and has been a workhorse in the rebounding department and in defending rival post players.
Senior guards Tanner Rabinowitz and Miguel Gomez-Perez, junior guards Tristan Bond and Ulices Isordia, and 5-11 sophomore wingman Aidan Trummel (with a career-high 16 points at Goldendale) also have been key contributors so far. All but Isordia are returning players.
Rabinowitz and Gomez, both 6-footers, are tough defenders. The 6-0 Isordia, who has been a revelation for Garwood so far, does the little things that don’t show up in the scorebook.
Bond and Trummel bring the threat of the 3-point shot, while Trummel, also has shown an ability to drive and get to the basket when defenders overplay him on the perimeter.
The Bruins roster comprises four seniors, five juniors, and two sophomores, ranging in height from 5-9 to 6-4, so there is experience, enthusiasm, and size in this year’s ranks.
Among this year’s other varsity newcomers are 5-10 junior guard Sam Rowlen, 5-9 sophomore guard Brady Trullinger, and 6-1 junior forward Riley Haner. (Notable: 6-2 freshman Justin Castaneda moved up from jayvee for a couple of games to help fill in for Lockman. In his varsity debut, he netted 11 points.)
Returning Bruins Coach David Garwood’s A Squad resumed Trico play Jan. 5 at La Center, and is scheduled to play Jan. 8 at King’s Way, in Vancouver.
At this writing, King’s Way and Castle Rock, at 3-1, shared the Trico League lead, and La Center (2-1) was tied for third with Kalama in the seven-team conference (down from 10 a year ago). Only Stevenson and Seton Catholic sit ahead of CHS in the standings.
Scoring and defense will remain concerns for the Bruins going forward.
Lockman and Gilbert can get their points in the paint and the post, but Garwood wants other players to step up to share the scoring load; a handful of 3 to 5 ppg scorers isn’t going to get the job done against the Trico’s stronger teams.
Garwood will be emphasizing consistency in effort and ball security, and encouraging more players to shoot the ball to help diversify the team’s offensive attack.
The Bruins showed in their game against Golden-dale and their rematch with Hockinson that they can compete at a high level when motivated, and get across-the-board contributions from all 11 players.
And now, after a few years of rebuilding a program that had fallen on hard times, the Bruins may be in their best position in years to qualify for post-season play.
They have four home games left (including their last two games of the season) and three away games remaining after their Jan. 5 game at La Center.
No CHS boys team has qualified for the Southwest District Tournament since 2001. Garwood would like to see this team be the one to end that record of futility.