WEST SALEM — Titans boys basketball coach Travis Myers wants West Salem to be able to play at a brisk pace.
“We practice fast,” Myers said. “We want to go really fast if we can. We want to make other teams have to adjust to us and our tempo.
“We will always look to get out and run, even off made baskets. And we want to press. The court is 84 feet, and we’re going to use all of it.”
This year’s team will run a lot of its stuff through 5-10 senior point guard Jon Breyman.
“He’s as strong as heck,” Myers said. “Really quick with the ball in his hand, too. He will be the key to what we do well. He’s going to do a ton for us.”
Breyman transferred from Central last year, but got hurt in the Titans’ second game and then missed some games, so he hasn’t had a full year, even a shortened one, to learn and grow on varsity at West Salem.
But “he can score,” Myers said, and he will be called on for that “if he’s got a match-up we can take advantage of.”
The Panthers have good size in 6-6 senior Brooks Ferguson and 6-6 sophomore Trenton Ferguson, who are not related.
“Brooks can play more outside,” Myers said. “He’s not a great shooter, but he can get his points. He’s a really good athlete and good at getting to the basket.
“Trenton is a back-to-the-basket, classic inside guy that we’re working on getting to where he can step out and hit the shot from 15-17 feet.”
Trenton Ferguson started a handful of games last season, and “this year we’ll play the two of them together more,” Myers said.
The Titans appear to have three sophomores in their rotation, with sophomore wing Conner Oertel in line to start and point guard Jackson Leach in the wings at that position.
Tommy Slack, a 6-1 junior, has the edge to start at shooting guard. He can shoot to 3-point distance from the wing and corner, “and he’s really improved his ability to attack the rim,” Myers said.
For all the younger, newer varsity guys, “it’s a matter of getting them used to the speed of the varsity game,” Myers said. “Things are a little faster, the lights are a little brighter.”
The biggest thing that will determine how much success this team has, according to Myers, is “how are we going to guard teams defensively.”
West Salem plays a jamboree on Wednesday, going up against host Sherwood and Grant. Myers hopes that action will help clarify what the team needs to work on when it opens the non-league season at home on Friday against Centennial.
The Titans’ first Mountain Valley Conference game isn’t until Jan. 11, at McKay, so there is plenty of time to get in sync and for the football players to find their basketball legs.
Myers anticipates Summit being “really, really tough” in league play, with Sprague and McNary formidable and the other Bend schools always a challenge, especially when West Salem is on the road.
But, “if we do our job, we’ll be in every game,” Myers said.
The Titans were 11-3 in the shortened 2021 season last spring.
“A weird year, but we were able to get some wins,” Myers said.
Myers is in his sixth year as West Salem’s head coach. He also spent one year there with the JV, after four years as JV coach at Sprague and two years as freshman coach at Dallas. Before that, he coached middle-schoolers.
The native of Winston graduated from Douglas High and attended the University of Oregon before finishing at Western Oregon. He’s a behavior specialist, a big golf fan and the son of Central volleyball coach Bruce Myers. One of his two brothers, Justin, is a sports talk show host on Rip City Radio (620 AM).
But maybe most of all, Travis is a basketball coaching junkie.
“I enjoy the heck out of the game,” he said. “I always wanted to run my own program.”
That’s even though, or maybe in part because, his own basketball playing career was somewhat short-lived.
“I stopped playing after my sophomore year of high school,” he said. “I was 5-8, couldn’t run, couldn’t jump.”
Golf was his sport in high school, though “I love all kinds of sports.”