Columbia Gorge Basketball Academy coordinator Greg Cummings has entrusted coaches Deric Anthony, Ken Brock, Lindsay Brock, Phil Hukari, Mike Cates and Andrew Voodre to help mold and shape the future basketball standouts across the gorge.
It takes hours of practices, scrimmages, games and tournaments, but Cummings is seeing some great progress.
The best is yet to come.
“We have a very special group of CGBA coaches this year,” Cummings said. “I want to personally thank them for doing an outstanding job with our players. It is a ginormous time commitment and their efforts are why we will have a successful high school basketball program.”
The CGBA dressed down its players for the eighth annual Holiday Hoops Classic last weekend in Hermiston, with the sixth grade and eighth grade boys combining for five wins.
Coached by Greg Cummings, the sixth-grade group posted a 3-2 record in action on Saturday and Sunday for a third-place finish out of the seven-team field.
Following an opening-day loss, the sixth graders picked up back-to-back wins over the Walla Walla Kings (36-17) and Idaho Elite Blue (30-19)
“The boys played great against Walla Walla,” coach Greg Cummings said. “Henry Begay and Andre Niko led our team both offensively and defensively. We ran our pressure 1-3-1, three-quarter court zone defense and put in traps in the corners when we played Idaho. They just couldn’t figure out how to beat the zone.”
In Saturday play, the sixth-grade squad started strong with a 48-18 blowout of the Hermiston Dawgs, where they were ahead by a 12-point margin going into the half.
With the Hermiston victory, the sixth graders moved into the semifinals versus 509 Insanity, out of Sunnyside, a group that beat CGBA by 17 points the last time they met.
This time around, however, the sixth graders battled strong in a closer outcome, a 56-50 loss.
“I felt like the boys played them quite a bit better,” Cummings said. “We still had too many turnovers in this game. We seem to struggle against the smaller, quicker teams sometimes.”
The oldest team in the program, the eighth graders came out swinging in their two Saturday tilts, with impressive wins against the Hermiston Hurricanes (52-30) and Fusion, out of the Tri-Cities area (37-33) for a 2-0 start.
“Shane Floyd and Tristan Bass played almost the entire game and put us on their shoulders and carried us all weekend long,” Cummings said. “We were missing one of our starters, Jaxon Pullen, all weekend so we were shorthanded. The kids executed great on offense and had a decent game defensively as well. Everyone stepped up and played some intense ball.”
Sunday, the eighth graders wound up losing to the Prosser Mustangs (50-36) and Idaho Elite Red (64-52) to finish tournament play at 2-2.
“Missed lay-in opportunities ultimately doomed us during Prosser game. We had a good defensive game, but just could not score when it mattered down the stretch,” Cummings said. “When we played Idaho Elite, it was a decent offensive game, but we just couldn’t get stops and we allowed way too many offensive rebounds.”
The fifth-grade boys, coached by Michael Cates and Andrew Voodre, hit the hardwood for five games and lost their first four contests, but managed to put forth a gritty performance in a 37-36 win over the Walla Walla Hawks.
In five tournament matchups, the fifth-grade girls amassed an 0-5 record, and capped action against the Kennewick Crush Orange in a nip-and-tuck contest, a 23-16 loss.
The group of Jackie Begay, Hailey Johnston, Lacy Hoylman, Despina Seufalemua, Makaila Miller, Maddie Brock, Sydney Newby and Ava Graves are coached by Lindsay Brock.
The seventh-grade group had three lopsided setbacks, but finished Saturday on a good note, a 43-35 loss to the Hermiston Brawlers.
On Sunday, this team, coached by Ken Brock and Phil Hukari, dropped OTT, out of Walla Walla, Wash. by a 44-25 margin, as Styles DeLeon put up 21 points, and Riley Brock added 17, going 5 for 8 from behind the arc.
The seventh graders were knocked out of title contention in their next game by Idaho Elite Red.
“The boys played progressively better as the weekend went on, losing a close eight-point game to the No. 1 seed on Saturday night,” coach Brock said. “The boys showed up Sunday morning ready to play.”
Kai Semlor, Sam Rogers, Osbaldo Lopez, Braden Schwartz, Jack Morgan, Fernando Ayala, Tyler vonSlomski, Manatu Crichton Tunai, Brock and Deleon will look forward to putting it all together for a tournament next month.
Last month, the CGBA teams went 3-14 in tournament games and added four more wins to their record with a 7-17 record.
At the end of the day, Cummings is not worried about the standings, he wants to see the players getting those extra repetitions for 30-35 games against good competition every year.
If an athlete starts playing from third grade through eighth grade, they will have played in more than 200 games, so that experience becomes invaluable for incoming freshmen.
“We have already seen more well-rounded basketball players entering high school in the last couple years as a direct result of playing CGBA basketball,” Cummings said. “For several years now, we’ve said that the future of The Dalles basketball is going to be really bright. And every year since I’ve been coaching at TDHS, we’ve gotten better and better.”
Cummings announced that CGBA is hosting two tournaments at The Dalles Middle School on January 13-14 and February 24-25.