NASELLE - Brian Macy was a center during the "glory days" of Comets basketball, playing on the 1983 and 1984 teams that lost to Onalaska and Brewster in state championship games. During his four years at NHS, the Comets won an amazing 99 games and were third in the state his freshman and sophomore seasons. In 1981 the Comets C-squad, JVs, and varsity combined for a 65-3 record.
Now Macy is in his first year as coach of Naselle and hopes to begin returning his team to prominence. He will rely on veteran guards Aoy Marion, Evan Hendrickson, Tony Mendoza, and Eli Williams and returning post players Greg Queener and Ricky Johnson.
Marion was point guard on last year's 6-15 team and showed promise as a scorer and defender. Hendrickson developed into a sharpshooter and should open things up in the middle with his outside scoring range. Mendoza and Williams played backup roles and will be counted on to step up this season.
Johnson and Queener were among the leading rebounders off last year's squad. Macy said Robert and Preston Torppa have also shown promise during early drills as have Paul Perez and Spencer Griss. The most pleasant surprise has been the all-around play of freshman Kyle Burkhalter.
"He's going to be a good one," Macy predicted.
After those players, the remaining varsity positions are wide open according to the coach. Macy's offense will be open as well.
"We will have to spread the floor and look for easy buckets from cutters," Macy said. "I don't think we will be able to pound the basketball inside against too many opponents."
Defensively, he will use his team's speed to pressure the enemy full court and man-to-man.
"We will also change it up some by using zones and zone presses," he added.
Macy's previous coaching experience came at Ocosta where he guided the girls team to two state tournament trophies in 10 years, with the highest being sixth place. He then concentrated on being a principal the past four years before returning to Naselle and to his role as classroom teacher.
Scott Smith, who was also a girls varsity coach at Naselle seven seasons and boys assistant to Lyle Patterson five more, returns to the coaching ranks as JV mentor for Comets.
"It's great to have a veteran assistant like Scott," Macy explained. "He has a wealth of basketball knowledge, and we are learning from each other."
Also vying for varsity playing time or filling out the JV roster for Naselle are Keifer Bell, Garrick Bennet, Matt Blain, Shane Cruz, Colby Engelson, Bobby Footh, Carl Frederickson, Jason Gradt, and David Lin. Other Comets include Josh Martin, Jeremy Ray, Richard Smith, Cory Tuebner, and Corey Wood.
Naselle will have its work cut out in the Pacific League. North Beach and Valley could very well be among the top three or four teams in the state.
"I think battling for third place is a realistic goal for us in league," Macy said with conviction. Raymond and Adna will be key opponents in the Pacific, and Cathlamet and Toutle Lake should make things difficult when District play rolls around in mid-February.
The Comets first game will be against North Beach.
"The Hyaks will be fun to watch with their amazing quickness and athleticism," Macy said, but admitted they may be a nightmare to coach against.
Macy is impressed with the positive attitude his charges have and their work ethic.
"I'm sure these guys will never give up no matter who we are playing," he predicted and that's a big step in starting the journey back to "glory days."
their non-counting or practice Pacific League season and home opener. The Comets then are scheduled to go on the road for two away games, at Warrenton on Tuesday, Dec. 7, and at the Lake Quinault Elk (Amanda Park) on Thursday, Dec. 9, the Elk game being a Pacific League "counting game." The Comets will be at home again on Saturday, Dec. 11, against Northwest Christian for a "non-counting" league game. The games on that date will open with JV games at 3 p.m. followed by both the girls and boys varsity games.
Previously, the Comets had been scheduled to play at Cathlamet on Saturday, Dec. 4. However, that game has been moved to Jan. 8, when the Comets boys and girls teams will each play their counterparts from Cathlamet at Naselle. That night, the Naselle gymnasium will be renamed the Lyle Patterson Gymnasium, in honor of the longtime Naselle coach and educator.
The mixture of counting vs. non-counting games comes about because of the new alignment of the B leagues in the southwest Washington district. NHS Athletic Director Jon Tienhaara describes it in this manner: "Basically, the Pacific League is split into two divisions. We play the south division teams (South Bend, Raymond, Willapa Valley, North Beach, and Northwest Christian) twice, but only the second game is a league game. We play the north division teams (Lake Quinault, Mary M. Knight, North River, Wishkah Valley, Oakville, and Taholah) once, which are all league games. The district tournament will be a 16 team double elimination tourney, and there will be a league tournament to decide seeds into district."
The schedule will give the Comets boys varsity 20 games, including 11 Pacific League games, prior to tournament action.
Macy and Smith have welcomed a good turnout of 26 players with several candidates having had varsity experience from a year ago.