It is getting competative at Elma High School boys basketball practice.
Loose ball drills pit seniors against juniors. Shooting drills pit senior against senior and scrimmages pit varsity against junior varsity. In almost every drill the Eagles do during practice there is a clear winner and loser.
“We do competitive drills in every practice,” coach Marvin Prince said. “We try to pit classes against classes, JV against varsity, senior against senior. We try and put a lot of things together to try and build that competitive fire. Each guy has to push the other one.”
The Eagles push each other through all kinds of drills from playing one-on-one to an “on your back” drill where two athletes start the drill on their back with a ball in between them and then see which one can flip over and get the ball first. With every drill the Eagles work toward the simple goal of getting better each day. For almost every member of the Elma varsity team this season will be their fourth working with that goal in mind. Elma has size and speed this season, but Prince said the biggest strength for the Eagles is their experience with nine seniors on the roster.
“Us being all seniors, we have been playing with each other since sixth grade,” senior Chance Bremer said. “I feel like it is time we put it all together and really competed. We’ve experienced losing streaks and we know how to get through those. We know how to get the dirty work done and now we just need to put it together for the full season.”
Bremer is one of four starters returning for the Eagles, including senior guards Ryan Collin, Tyson Nauman and Ray Stark. Prince said he expects six-foot-four senior Austin Neary to also be one of the starters this season and senior Rashad Lorton, a transfer from Hoquiam, to challenge Stark for time at point guard.
The Eagles took their first step toward putting the whole puzzle together on Nov. 30 when they traveled to Centralia to compete in a jamboree. Elma played one quarter against Centralia and one quarter against W.F. West of Chehalis and lost both, but Prince said the playing time was a good experience to see the group’s shortcomings before the season starts. Because of their early season opponents making runs in the football playoffs, the Eagles first game wasn’t until Dec. 11, just two days before their first league contest on Dec. 13 against Forks.
The jamboree helped the Eagles accomplish their goal of getting better every day, but for Collin and several of the other Elma players there is another goal in mind.
“We will be disappointed if we don’t win a league championship,” Collin said. “The win column will measure our success this year.”
For Prince, a league championship is not a goal, but a destination for the Eagles. Prince said if the Eagles keep their mind on being the best they can be each day there is no telling what their final desination might be this season.
“Our goal should be to try and get better every day, grow closer as a team so you fight together as a team and then however close we can come together, however much trust we can have in each other, our destination is determined off of that.”