2018-2019 Gresham HS (OR) is heading to the State Playoffs for the first time in 14 years! Erik Lyslo is the Head Boys Basketball Coach at Gresham High School. He is in his third season at the helm. In his first year, he knew him and his staff had an uphill battle to get the program going in the right direction. His first year, the team overall record was 2-22. In his second year, the team overall record was 5-19. This season, the team overall record 15-9 and made the state playoffs for the first time in 14 years. On Tuesday, they play at OSAA #8 Oregon City HS. Erik knows his success is not only his coaching but his staff plays a big part in it. Ben Kittleson, Dominic Fauria and Mike Abrahamson has been there since day one. Jeremy Smith came on this year and fits in well. On January 18th, I called coach to congratulate him on his road victory over Clackamas. It was the first time they won there in over 10+ years. After small talk, I told him if he made the playoffs, then I would write a short story on him. He replied “Easy fella”. I quickly reminded him how far they have come and it’s there time. Erik replied, “We talked about having two 60 and 70 point losses in past years. Turning the corner but you know as well as I do ...I want more.” I caught up with Gresham High School all time leading scorer and Warner Pacific U Hall of Famer Scott Gallengher about his Gophers. 1. Since graduating from Warner Pacific, what have you been up to? Since graduating from Warner I’ve become a gameplay designer for the NBA 2K Franchise. I’m also the head basketball coach at Terra Linda high school in Marin California. 2. I know you still follow Gresham Basketball, whats your advice for the team? I would tell the boys that there’s no pressure on them. So don’t feel the pressure, apply it. It’s win or go home at this point so don’t end this season with any regrets. Leave it all out on the floor. Below is the exclusive interview with coach Erik Lyslo. What has the process been like over the last three years getting where it is today? The last three years have taken a lot of work. My staff and I took over the lowest ranked program at the 6A level and we knew exactly what the uphill climb looked like when I took the job. You had a 50-game conference losing streak, no feeder program on the youth side, no playoff appearances and a very poor reputation around the area. But step by step we've made progress to put a competitive product on the floor and it started with changing the overall culture in the program. We focused on three things: 1. We created a youth program on day one where we opened the gym any time we could and hosted camps, clinics, our fall academy program and a youth league with teams. We focused on 4th-6th graders to start and had three youth teams our first year. We bumped that to 7 teams the second year along with 7 teams this year. We've expanded our program from 4th to 8th now and we have a great idea of who is coming through our program for a long time now. We host camps as much as we can and the relationships we've created with our youth families has been fantastic. 2. The second item on the list we had to change was the high school culture around the program. We made character the number one item on our list when selecting players and we weeded out the bad apples on day one and created an expectation of what it means to be a Gresham Gopher basketball player. If a player can pass the character test, then we look at them as basketball players and will help them put the work in to make them better players. 3. The last item we focused on was player development. It's no secret that on those hot June, July and August days, our gym is open 5 days a week with a different coach there each night to work with our high school players on all parts of their game. Some buy in to working to get better, some don't. But the expectation in our program has changed and players now know if they don't work to get better, they are getting left behind. This has created a much more competitive environment with our high school players and has helped us overcome the fact that more than half of our varsity players have 2-3 years total of organized basketball experience. Once we start to see our youth players come through our program in the coming years, we are very confident the ability and IQ will be much better and we will be more successful. What’s your team mindset going into your game against Oregon City? Our mindset Tuesday is very relaxed. There is no pressure on us. We were not supposed to be here - we were not picked to be a playoff team this season - they are a top 10 team and I think most people think we are just happy to be in the post-season. So we are relaxed but we know our level of play needs to be raised and we've definitely seen a playoff type atmosphere in practice the last few days. We know they own the top defensive numbers in the state. We have seen them live and have watched them on film so we know how well they defend. We also saw them twice a year in our conference over the last two years so we are familiar with what they do. At the end of the day, it's always going to be about the little things. Can you win the rebound battle - can you get quality shots - can you make more free throws? Can we create some special points as we call them (BLOB, run-outs, second chance points). Can we win the 50/50 balls.These are categories we always track and we know what it will take to win this game. We had the top defense in the Mt. Hood Conference this year, they had the top defense in the Three Rivers. I would anticipate a very low-scoring game and it's going to come down to the categories mentioned above.