After an up and down season of 14-13, The Salem Academy Boys Basketball team is ready to redeem themselves this year, with four returning starters Senior Hayden Wakefield, Junior Cole Hardy, Junior Luke Miller, and Sophomore Benett Bos, they are looking to build on last years success and lead this team to Coos Bay. Coach Ryan Kendall said, ”I Believe that the experience the returning starters bring in should help us in the long run.” He also added,” Junior Cameron Haslebacher, Hunter Schwenke and Senior Jacob Haller are other varsity players that will play a key role in this seasons success.
Salem Academy plays in the PacWest Conference, which is known to be a dominant conference in 3a basketball throughout the years. However, this year's conference schedule will be little easier with Blanchet losing three-year star RJ Veliz who transferred to Woodburn this off-season, also Amity takes a step back losing a good group of seniors. A big threat coming into the season for Salem Academy will be Dayton. This team is known for having a loaded roaster and will be on the hunt for redemption after losing in the state championship.
Coach Ryan Kendall said, ”Being in the PacWest Conference, you will have great competition night in and night out, I'll lean on my seniors to lead by example but feel good about having 4 returners to carry that load.” Salem Academy will be lead by Senior Hayden Wakefield, he can shoot the three well and when he gets in a rhythm it's hard to stop him, this offseason he got better at defense and his ball handling.
Coach Kendall said, ”My main goal is to be intentional about everything we do, in practice and in games. We have to understand that everything we do leads to the end game (Coos Bay) and if we aren't intentional about even the little things, the journey will be that much harder.”
During the offseason Hayden Wakefield has improved a lot, Coach Kendall,"said Hayden can be a great shooter for us but he's really working on his defense and his ball handling over the off-season. I look for him to up the all-around aspect of his game.” He also said,” he has noticed a dramatic improvement from Junior Luke Miller, he can be a great defender, and offensively he has really nice body control in the air. I'd like to see him penetrate and get to the free throw line more this year, also I would like to see him shoot the outside shot more.”
Junior Cole Hardy and Sophomore Benett Bos are looking to play a bigger role in this year's team and be leaders when adversity comes their way. Coach Kendall said,” Benett Bos was a freshman last year and I expect him to really step up this year as he's had varsity experience from last season, even though he's only a sophomore.” Last season Cole battled injury and missed several games but his coach believes he can be a force on both ends of the floor this year.
The ultimate goal for Salem Academy this year is, making it to the state playoffs and of course making it to Coos Bay. Coach Kendall needs to prepare his players every night in this tough conference, he believes playing in the PacWest conference will prepare his team for the playoffs.