It’s a new season with a clean slate and the Othello and Quincy boys basketball teams are ready to change the culture surrounding two programs that finished at the bottom of the Central Washington Athletic Conference last season.
The Othello Huskies usher in the Roman Pruneda era. Pruneda played his first three high school seasons at Othello before transferring to East Valley (Yakima). He replaces George Juarez as the new head coach.
The Huskies split Tuesday night at the Othello jamboree, beating Warden 16-12 and dropping a 27-15 decision to Wahluke.
“When I got the job, my heart was so full,” Pruneda said. “From the start, I let my guys know this was not going to be a high school program. I’m running it like a college program and we’re practicing for two-and-a-half, three hours a day, then going to the weight room for another hour.
“It’s a change for them, but I want to break them down and start building them up. I’m throwing a lot of stuff at them right now, but we’re building a program and changing the culture.”
Quincy is a little banged up right now, but head coach Wade Petersen said his group is working hard and ready to change things around for a program that won just two games last season.
“We’ve been decimated by injuries and we’re down four starters, but the kids we have are working hard,” Petersen said. “We’re in flux until we can get ourselves healthy, but we’re working to get better.”
The Huskies return Kyler Villarreal (6-4, jr., F), Jonathan Garza (5-11, soph., G), Trevor Hilmes (6-0, jr. G), Michael Gutierrez (6-0, jr., G), Justis Garcia (6-0, jr. G) and Patrick Azevedo (5-7, soph., G).
“It’s about changing the culture and the tradition with the basketball program here in Othello,” Pruneda said. “Even though I left as a senior, my heart’s always been here, always has, always will.
“Right now, we’re building the foundation. I love to win, but there hasn’t been the tradition or a foundation with basketball. So it’s really important to work hard and get things in place to move forward.”
The Huskies will be patient with their offense, rotating the ball and working for the open shot. They don’t have a pure shooter or big scoring threat, so it will have to come from a team format, Pruneda said. Defensively, they mix zone with a man-to-man format and let some of that conditioning and weight training work for them.
Othello opens the regular season at home, hosting Wapato on Friday and Ellensburg on Saturday.
Trajan Trevino and Tyson Thornton are both questionable for the season with injuries, so it’s the next man up in Quincy.
The Jacks return Gates Petersen (5-10, sr., G), Max Molina (5-10, jr., G), Ignacio Castillo (5-11, sr., PG) and Carlos Solorio (5-10, sr. F).
“We’re looking forward to a hard-working season and I’m excited about the work ethic and that will go a long ways toward a successful season,” Petersen said.
The Jacks open the season on the road on Thursday in Mattawa against Wahluke and host Selah on Saturday.
Selah won the Central Washington Athletic Conference last season and played for the 2A state championship. Wapato was a distant second, but again considered a contender.
Rodney Harwood is a sports writer with the Columbia Basin Herald and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org