Battle Ground High School hasn’t been known for its boy’s basketball in recent years.
Enter head coach Manny Melo and junior big man Kaden Perry, though, and the duo has found some success.
“We definitely have some pieces to make a run hopefully, if we make the playoffs this year,” Coach Melo said.
Last season, the Battle Ground Tigers Boys Basketball team made an appearance in the State Tournament for the first time in 17 years after going 18-10 on the season.
Battle Ground dropped it first game, 66-54, to Kentridge, but that taste of the State Tournament in Tacoma, Washington has Coach Melo and his team wanting more.
“Obviously, to make it to the Tacoma Dome, that’s our goal. We did it last year. We fell short of our goal of placing and getting a trophy, but just getting back there, we have a couple great pieces with Kaden and then we have Nate Millspaugh, Brendean Beall, coming back from last year too that are two great guards to surround him with,” Coach Melo said.
The Tigers go as Kaden Perry goes. The 6’9” forward has already committed to play at Gonzaga University and now he wants to prove that he has made a big jump from his sophomore to junior year of high school.
We obviously want to make it back to State. For me personally as player, me showing everyone that I’m a different player than I was these last two years. This leap from sophomore to junior year I feel like I’ve definitely improved my game in that I kind of just want like, ‘hey this Kaden kid -- we knew he was good, but he’s definitely shown improvements,’ that’s what I’m trying to show everyone this year. – Battle Ground forward Kaden Perry
What Perry has already proven in his High School career is that his work ethic is second to none.
Coach Melo described Perry as, “a very hard working kid, [who] runs up and down the floor at his own expense.”
“He just does it as hard as he can even if he’s tired,” Melo said. “He never lets people know that he’s tired. He’s always working hard. He’s a guy that puts his teammates first all the time. He’s always keeping his teammates accountable. He’s just a great kid on the court, very athletic, fun to watch. His teammates love him, the fans love him, students here love him, and coaches love him.”
Now, Perry and the Tigers will get a chance to showcase their talents at the highly regarded 2019 Les Schwab Invitational.
This five-day, 32-game, boys high school basketball tournament features 16 teams chosen from Oregon and Washington’s top 6A and 5A schools, and national teams through a partnership with Nike.
Perry is looking forward to “good basketball” when it comes to the level of competition the Les Schwab Invitation brings.
“Everyone there is supposed to be good. It should be fun, all the game should be close, and we should play our best basketball.”
Participation in the LSI is based on a selection process, which occurs each January.
Coach Melo knows how important the Invitational competition will be for this team.
“It’s going to be great four games no matter what. All the teams there are obviously very, very good. They were invited for a reason into this tournament. So, just continue to see what were good at, continue to work on what we can work on, and just compete for 48 games. I’m excited. The kids are excited as well.”
Battle Ground will face Jefferson on December 26th at 4:00pm in the Tigers first game of the Les Schwab Invitational.