Storm, preparing to play in one of best leagues in the state in January, is hoping to still be playing into March as well
A 10-0 start can do wonders for a basketball team. Especially for a program that has not had a whole lot of success in its history.
The Skyview Storm keep winning in boys basketball, and they keep believing.
“Win state,” senior KB Fesehazion said of the goal this season. “That’s how confident I am in my team.”
Then he thought about that statement for a few seconds as teammate Alex Schumacher chimed in with his opinion.
“We don’t want to skip any steps,” Schumaker said. “We want to go the right path.”
True. No point in thinking all the way to March and the championship game just yet. The Storm want to earn this opportunity and enjoy the process.
“I guess state is more of a destination than a goal,” Fesehazion said, correcting himself a bit.
Make no mistake, though, the Storm believe this 10-0 start is just that: a start to something big.
Skyview has some league titles in its history – the last coming in 2010 – but you will not find Skyview and state basketball on the WIAA’s history page. That’s right. No record of the Storm ever making it to the round of 16.
“We felt we should have been in the final 16 last year, and we didn’t reach it,” Skyview coach Matt Gruhler said. “Our guys have worked really hard to put themselves in a position to be there.”
Of course, the Storm also realize they have not played a league game yet. Take a glance at at the state’s Ratings Percentage Index rankings. It is a who’s-who of the Class 4A Greater St. Helens League.
As of Dec. 27, Skyview is No. 2 in the state. Union is No. 5. Camas is No. 6. Combined, the three teams are 26-3. Clearly, whichever team wins the league title is going to be battle tested. Plus, there will be teams that don’t win the league that will still have a shot of making it to state.
Union is a fixture at state. Camas made it in 2015. Skyview is trying to make school history, with a mixture of a lot of experience from last year’s squad and a few new faces.
“We know our roles. We know our strengths and weaknesses,” Schumacher said. “This year, there is something different about this team. Hard to explain, but we got ‘It’ this year.”
“It starts with practice. Coach is doing a good job of getting on us,” Fesehazion said. “He knows what we’re capable of this year. We have a lot of talent on this team. We’re pushing each other every day. This year we can do something special.”
Gruhler is surprised a bit at the perfect record, but not completely, if that makes sense.
“Not sure I would have believed you if you had told us we would be 10-0 at this point, but I also knew we had it in us,” Gruhler said. “The guys are playing well and making plays when it counts.”
Skyview has been in one-possession games with less than 30 seconds to play in five of its 10 wins. It is an advantage to have every starter back for another run.
“I didn’t realize how poised they have been in clutch situations,” the coach said.
Schumacher, Cole Grossman, and Jovon Sewell started every game for the Storm last season. Fesehazion and Samaad Hector played starter’s minutes and each started a handful of games. They’re all back, making all the right decisions down the stretch.
Schumacher is leading the team at better than 18 points per game along with four assists. Samaad Hector is grabbing 12 rebounds a game and is good for two blocked shots, as well.
“Schumacher and Samaad have the numbers, but Cole’s consistency has been something we rely on,” the coach said, noting the “calming force” of Grossman.
Plus, the Storm are getting moments from younger players such as sophomore Kyle Gruhler and Squeeky Johnson, a freshman. Johnson, a back-up point guard, opened the season with 17 assists and only two turnovers.
Schumacher said classmates are starting to take notice of the boys basketball team, too. For boys sports, this has been a football school for years. Soccer and baseball have had plenty of success, as well, at the state level.
Skyview boys basketball is not there yet, but the Storm believe they are on their way this season.
“Every game that we win just gives us more confidence we’re going to win the next game and the game after that,” Fesehazion said. “Staying humble is a big part of it, too. We have the chip on our shoulder, but we’re not being too cocky.