YC’s athletic programs have gone under the most dramatic short term metamorphosis of any school in the last 10-15 years. Football has gone from doormat to league champions; volleyball just had its winningest season since 2011, boys soccer just had its first winning season since 2010, girls soccer has become a perennial state power in recent years, girls basketball has gone from 7 straight losing seasons to 2 straight in the playoffs, even the baseball program is on the rise. The only program that has been consistently relevant the last ten years has been the softball team, thanks in part to coach John Kuehnel, who this year will coach his 24th season at YC.
Most remarkable of YC’s compelling turnaround stories is the boy’s basketball program. The account requires a full feature on our part. The short version is this: YC has not had a winning season since 2008, went winless in 3A in 2018-19, and had the unprecedented misfortune of getting 100 points posted on them twice last season. Now? The Tigers are 12-7 and have already clinched their winningest season since 2007.
Tuesday night, at state contender and league favorite Dayton’s home gym, the upstart Tigers gave the Pirates all they had, and almost landed the knockout punch.
Here’s our reaction to YC @ Dayton:
- The two Robert’s kids, Trey Richmond, the two Horne kids, etc…the future is bright for the Tigers, but the future is already here in a lot of ways.
- YC fell into an early deficit, down 7-0 to Dayton within the first two minutes of the game. It looked like the experienced, Ron Hopp led Pirates might run away and hide. But Heather Roberts, recognizing her players weren’t ‘awake,’ threw on the 2-2-1 press to get the blood pumping. What resulted was a 23-10 run, and YC ended the first quarter up 23-17
- The second quarter was back and forth, which in this game anything short of absolute domination by Dayton would be some YC win, whether moral or literal. In the first half, it was all literal. YC was hitting 3’s, moving the ball like a team that had been playing together and for Coach Roberts their entire lives, and forcing Pirate turnovers regularly. Dayton was able to find success in the paint, whether by drive or post up, against the relatively lightweight, underclassmen heavy front court of the Tigers. Justin Morales against anyone except Trey Richmond was going to be a good matchup for the Pirates, so they went to it whenever it was possible within their offense. YC kept on rolling though, and 3’s are worth more than 2’s, so YC went into the halftime locker room up 39-31.
- Halftime is the great reset button. The pace of play is reset, shooters hot streaks/cold stretches can end, and overall the game itself resets. It is a game of two halves in basketball much more than it is in football. At halftime, the frantic pace YC had successfully brought the game to, had been reset. Dayton had begun to dig its heels in late in the 2nd, slowing the pace, but halftime ultimately did the trick. The third quarter was mostly YC trying to hold on through Dayton runs, trying to hold the beast back as long as possible. At one point, Dayton had the Tiger lead down to 1 but ended the quarter behind 4.
- This is big, though. YC being able to hold on to a lead through the halftime intermission is a development exemplifying their maturity even since the beginning of the season. The Pirates are one of the most experienced, well-coached teams in the state. Being able to hold their own for 24+ minutes against what might be the best team in the state is damn impressive considering where they started from.
- What happened in the following 12 minutes, in terms of the actual detail of who took the lead when, lead changes, leading scorers, etc. is all inconsequential. What mattered was this: YC slowly let the lead slip out of their hands, but didn’t lose it all in one foul swoop, that is huge. YC dropped the game in overtime by five, had they won it would’ve sent a shockwave throughout the state, but nonetheless broadcast one thing loud and clear.
- YC is no longer taking baby steps; they’re running. That should scare the hell out of the rest of the state. Rebuilds happen generally in 6(ish) stages for doormat programs:
- 1 – Learn how to get back up and fight on after getting blown out
- 2 – Learn how to not get blown out, and be competitive consistently
- 3 – Learn how to win close games against middle of the pack teams
- 4 – Learn how to beat middle of the pack teams handily
- 5 – Learn how to compete with top tier teams
- 6 – Learn how to beat top tier teams
- It should scare the hell out of people that Heather Roberts has taken YC from steps 1 to 6 in less than a year. It’s remarkable what she has done, and is absolutely coach of the year worthy. Tonight YC almost completed the rebuild process in its entirety and would’ve put themselves on the fast track to being a Coos Bay contender next year (if not a dark horse for this year). Dayton squeaked out the win, but realistically they should’ve won anyway, right?
There’s a poem by Glennice L. Harmon, in which she writes about why she was a school teacher. In it she writes about all the different occupations her students will take on, a builder, a farmer, a minister, etc. She writes about how she may never see the church once built, eat the food they’ve grown, or hear the gospel from her former students, but she may. And at that point if she does, she may say that she knew him or her once, and they were healthy, or weak, or kind, or bold. She may say that she knew them once when they were children.
We’re in the beginning stages of a potential perennial powerhouse. Get to a YC game this year, see the work they’ve done, see the new Tiger Dome, and watch as a team matures before your eyes as they have in front of ours.
Once they reach their potential, be able to say you saw a dynasty from start to finish. Know them in their basketball youth. This is the start of something special.