Welcome to the new age of Roseburg High boys basketball.
With one starter returning — and just three players who have even sat on the varsity bench — the Indians aren’t a young team, they’re an unknown team.
“I really don’t know until we play somebody,” head coach Mike Pardon said.
“There will be a bunch of young kids going ‘Wow, this is a lot different than what I’m used to,’” junior guard Luke Lucido said.
Lucido, by the way, is that lone starter back from the 2015-16 squad that missed the playoffs after finishing tied for fifth in the Southwest Conference. He played in all 24 games, but didn’t become a starter until mid-January.
“It was a lot different,” Lucido said. “There were a lot of older guys who thought they should be leading and I was a young kid just trying to do my part.”
He was also making the leap from freshman ball to varsity. Now he’s the most experienced of the Indians. Seniors Matt Stone and Jack Christner also saw minutes last season.
Now, Pardon and the Tribe will roll with youth. There are four seniors on the roster. The rest of the team is making the jump from freshman or junior varsity competition.
“I’m in my 16th year as a head coach and I don’t think I’ve had a younger team, with less experience,” Pardon said. “This is all new for everybody. The good part is the kids have been really coachable, working hard every day, but you don’t really learn until you play.”
RHS opens the season on Friday at Springfield High, a team Pardon anticipates will be in the top 10 in 5A. The Millers made the state tournament a year ago. The Indians’ home opener is Dec. 6 against Thurston, which dropped out of the Southwest Conference after last school year and joined the 5A Midwestern League.
Joining Lucido, Stone and Christner on the varsity are Cody Johnson, John Crince, Collin Warmouth, Jon Stone, Stephen Lake and Kaden Seely. Junior Tyler Sconce and seniors Treven Jacks and Michael Lookabaugh round out the roster. Both Jacks and Lookabaugh did not play last season.
“I think we can come together as a team pretty quickly,” Lucido said. “We have good chemistry. Last year we were iffy on chemistry, this year we’re coming back strong, we’re ready to go.”
Pardon and Lucido both see the youth for what it is: an opportunity.
“We’re all learning it together. Not having as many experienced players is hurting us and helping us at the same time,” said Lucido.
“We’re just going to try to get better,” Pardon said. “That’s the exciting part, they’re willing to learn and are very coachable. I think as the year goes on and we learn from our mistakes, we will get better.”
The Indians are a little taller than they were a year ago, with some size they haven’t boasted in a few years.
“We’re a little longer than we’ve been, we can create some situations,” Pardon said. “Basketball is like anything else in life, you have to build on that foundation. Where we grow is where we will find our style of play.”
Warmouth, Lucido and Johnson are emerging as leading contenders at guard and wing, while the Stone brothers are developing as posts. Christner and Crince will also factor into the top seven to start the season.
Lucido acknowledges his situation as a de facto leader given his experience.
“It’s more of not just solidly on me,” Lucido said. “I use other players like Collin Warmouth and Matt Stone to be leaders. Yes, I am one of the leaders, but it can’t all be on me.”