By NR Staff • 

New face for Willamina boys basketball a familiar one

Despite the Bulldogs finishing last in the West Valley League in 2012-13 with a 2-22 record, Hughes said he knows the talent pool of basketball players is there.

“We have a lot of good kids who can really play basketball,” Hughes said. “And there are a lot of good kids coming up.”

Hughes should know. He has been at Willamina for six years and has been coaching the girls junior varsity team. He’s a social studies teacher at the Willamina Middle School and is aware of the type of players who reside in the town.

The Willamina School District hired Hughes in June, and athletic director Jerry Buckzynski said Hughes understands the situation he’s taking over and he’s ready to tackle it head on.

“It was a good fit,” Buckzynski said. “The kids like him.”

Hughes hit the ground running. He set up 10 summer league games with local schools Amity, Sheridan, Yamhill-Carlton and Gervais. Even though basketball practice won’t start until mid-November, he said it was a good introduction for his players into what he will be like as a coach.

“I wished we could have done more,” he said.

The Bulldogs were 1-13 in the WVL last season, winning their only league game late in the season vs. Gervais. When asked why Hughes decided to try for the boys varsity job, he said simply, “I felt just like it was something I needed to do.”

He also has a couple of early goals.

“Goal No. 1 is to get athletes who can play and get the numbers up,” he said. “Goal No. 2 is to teach them what it’s like to be a basketball player and student and learn how to compete.”

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