Brothers are having a Bal

INDEPENDENCE — Central coach Bob McBeth remembers his first look at brothers Chan and Harkey Bal.    “I think it was when Chan was in fifth grade and Harkey was in third grade … they came to one of our kids camps,” McBeth said. “They could barely play, they couldn’t shoot.”    Things are a little different now.    Chan, a senior, is the Panthers’ starting point guard, while Harkey, a sophomore, serves as a key reserve, primarily as the backup point guard.    As Central prepares to host Seaside on Saturday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Class 4A boys state basketball playoffs, the Bal brothers are looking to treasure this season as much as they can.    “This is the only year we get to play together,” Chan said. “Last year, he was on junior varsity and I ended up tearing my ACL 10 games into the season. This year coming back, this is going to be fun because this is probably the last time we’ll get to play together.”    Enjoying the ride    While they may have gotten their first taste of basketball in elementary school, it was during their middle school years when Chan and Harkey fell in love with the sport.   “I tried out my sixth-grade year and I expected to make the team, but I got cut,” Harkey said. “Ever since then, I was motivated to play more basketball and see where it can take me.”    For Chan, basketball wasn’t going to factor into his life. Football was his sport of choice. But, after watching his brother and on the advice of a friend, Chan decided to pursue basketball. He hasn’t looked back since.    “It was like love at first sight, it was love at first try,” Chan said. “I knew this is what I wanted.”    Through the years, Chan and Harkey worked to improve and continue to push each other in high school.    “We’ve played each other one-on-one so many times that we know each other’s strengths and weaknesses, so we can use it to our advantage,”?Harkey said.    Now, in Chan’s final season with the Panthers, Harkey is doing everything he can to make it a special one for Chan.    “To me, he’s my big brother so I have to let him run the show,” Harkey said. “I feel that my time hasn’t come yet. This is Chan’s last year, so I want him to do everything so I try and get him the ball more often and see what he can do with the basketball. My goal this year was trying to get him to be a better player.”    That effort appears to be paying dividends for Chan, who averages 14.4 points, 2.0 steals and 4.1 assists per game.    “It’s fun,” Chan said. “You see each other play and you know what each other is going to do next, and you predict it for the fun of it. … Harkey’s helped me become better so I can be successful.”    Playoffs    The Bal brothers hope to do their part in extending Central’s season against Seaside on Saturday.   The Seagulls defeated North Bend 60-55 on Saturday in a play-in game after going 5-5 in Cowapa League play. The Panthers defeated Seaside 45-34 on Dec. 26 in the teams’ lone meeting this season. The winner advances to face the winner of the Brookings-Harbor-Tillamook game on March 13.    McBeth is hoping Central’s depth will pose major problems for opponents.    “When people look at our team, Chan and Grant (Lindley) can score,” McBeth said. “Kaj Bansen, Harkey, Kyler Fleming, they can all knock down shots, and all of them have hit five or six 3s in a game this season. That’s our advantage, I think.”    After a regular season that saw Central, listed No. 3 in the final OSAA power ranking, go 18-4 overall and 8-2 in Oregon West Conference play, the Bal brothers’are looking to make sure their final season together is one they’ll never forget.    “I’m positive we have the most talented team in Oregon in 4A basketball,” Harkey said. “It all comes down to a state championship. This is a state team.”


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