Boys basketball preview: Heritage's Hergert is no lone Timberwolf

Hergert glad to let his teammates do scoring if opponents focus on him

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

Published:

 

Heritage senior basketball player Tim Hergert was frustrated on the court Friday night, but he was thrilled off the court.

He had just been the target of a defensive plan to take him out of his offensive rhythm. For 32 minutes, the Fort Vancouver Trappers tried to deny him the ball, wherever he was on the court. If he did get the ball, he was double-teamed, sometimes triple-teamed.

All night long.

Boys basketball preview

Quick look at key players from area boys basketball teams:

CLASS 4A GSHL

BATTLE GROUND: Key players — Miles Luke, sr.; Jamie Ford, jr., Damien Ford, jr. New coach Gregg Kalian takes over a Tigers team that returns seven players from last year’s playoff team.

CAMAS: Key players — Trent Johnson, sr.; Zach Eagle, jr.; Trevor Jasinsky. The Papermakers return only two athletes who played significant varsity minutes last year. Still, they hope to make a strong impression as a 4A GSHL squad.

EVERGREEN: Key players — Ajay Jenkins, jr.; Jalen Ballard, jr.; Robert Franks, so. New coach Brian Witherspoon takes over a team with little varsity experience but plenty of youth and promise.

HERITAGE: Key players — Tim Hergert, sr., Marquis Evans, sr.; David Martin, jr. The Timberwolves hope to bounce back from a rough couple of years. Hergert led the region in scoring last season.

SKYVIEW: Key players — Keegan Liebelt, sr.; Brian Brady, sr., Jordan Berni, sr. Liebelt can light it up from anywhere and he will be needed. The Storm lost about 85 percent of their scoring to graduation. Still, this new team should have depth.

UNION: Key players — Tyler Copp, sr.; Trent Cowan, sr.; Seaver Whalen, sr. The Titans, with a state title in 2010 and a third-place finish in 2012, are always a team to beat. This squad is inexperienced, but the tough non-league schedule should help the Titans prepare.

CLASS 3A GSHL

COLUMBIA RIVER: Key players — Isaiah Smith, sr.; Rian Bassett, sr.; Devon Bolds, sr. With the top three players returning from last season’s league and district champions, is it any wonder why so many believe River is the top team again this season?

FORT VANCOUVER: Key players — Loris Hervey, sr.; Matt Delisle, sr.; Deonte Hawkins, sr. The Trappers have depth and a lot of good players up and down the lineup.

HUDSON’S BAY: Key players — Dewayne Whittley; T.J. Brumfield; Leron Barrow. The Eagles are looking to improve under new coach Robert Key.

MOUNTAIN VIEW: Key players — Shane McCauley, sr., Luke DuChesne, sr.; Taylor Drey, sr. While most consider Columbia River the league favorite, the Thunder are also always in the mix.

PRAIRIE: Key players — Preston Brooks, sr.; James Phillips, jr.; Mason Pack, jr. Falcons started off 5-0 and are one of a number of teams that could make a run for league title.

CLASS 2A GSHL

HOCKINSON: Key players — Wyatt Yearout, sr.; Alan Haagen, jr.; Jess Krah, jr. The Hawks lost eight players from last season’s successful campaign. That just means there are new players who will step up and compete to keep Hockinson in the playoff mix.

RIDGEFIELD: Key players — David Potter; Neil Biggerstaff; Kyle Morris. The Spudders have a win over a 4A program in the non-league season but also have split with 1A Woodland.

WASHOUGAL: Key players — Aaron Deister, sr.; Mike McElroy, sr.; Nate Adams, sr. The Panthers scheduled tough non-league games in hopes of testing themselves before league. They finished a game out of going to district last year and have seven returning varsity players.

1A TRICO LEAGUE

LA CENTER: Key players — Dylan King, jr.; Connor Wonderly, jr.; A.J. Myers, sr. Seven Wildcats have winning experience, having just finished with the football team that made it to the state quarterfinals.

SETON CATHOLIC: Key players — Evan Sims, sr., Cole Farrell, sr., D.K. Lee, sr. Cougars will be trying to compete in a new league, bigger classification.

WOODLAND: Key players — Tanner Huddleston, jr.; Tannyr Knight, jr; Logan Piper, jr. The Beavers’ five starters started as freshmen. There is optimism that the experience will turn into victories this year.

KING’S WAY CHRISTIAN: Key players — Jay Becker, jr.; Chris Crenshaw, sr.; Carter Coval, jr. Knights returns an experienced group, but moving up from 1B to 1A will be a challenge this season.

He finished with nine points -- his lowest output since he was a sophomore. Hergert had the scars of a physical battle. Bruised, a few cuts. His shot was not there that night.

After the game, Heritage coach Forbes Lapp wanted to know how his team's leading scorer was feeling.

"Screw the stats. We won," Hergert recalled telling his coach. "I had (nine) points, but that let other people open. I was just excited we got a win."

Three days later, Lapp was relaying that post-game meeting.

"I looked into his eyes. It was genuine," Lapp said. "He really cared more about the win than his points. That's the kind of leader he has become."

Hergert can lead by emotion or example. The Timberwolves have themselves a special talent.

And not just in basketball.

As a wide receiver in football this fall, Hergert led the region in receiving yards during the regular season. Last spring, he was an all-league center fielder in baseball. And of course, in basketball, he is a prolific scorer. He averaged 19 points a game as a sophomore.

"That was the year I knew I had potential to be a good basketball player," he said.

He upped his average to 24 points a game last season.

Yet as good as he is at putting the ball in the basket, the team has been struggling. Heritage went 2-18 last year. This season, the Timberwolves started 0-4, which included a two-point loss to Prairie. Hergert missed the first two games with a sprained ankle, then scored 31 and 25 points in the other losses.

After what he and the Timberwolves have gone through in recent years, he will trade off the scoring for more wins.

"I'm just trying to be a leader on the court, try to push people in practice and try to get at least more than two wins," Hergert said with a smile.

The Timberwolves (2-4) got their second win of the season Monday at Hockinson. But Hergert said the goal is actually a bit higher than that.

"Our goal is to get above .500 this year," he said.

It is refreshing to hear an athlete with a realistic frame of mind. He knows the Timberwolves aren't favored to win a league title or go to state. Hergert said a postseason run is possible, but before setting a goal like that, he and the Timberwolves need to put a few wins together and take it from there.

Still, there is a precedence at Heritage for a nice run.

In 2008, the team went 0-20. The next year, the Timberwolves won the district title.

"We want that to happen to us. We feel we can really compete," Hergert said. "We have a lot of starters back. We're working, and we're focused."

The season will play out, and the playoff teams will be determined. Hergert knows he will give it his all. Just like he did in football. Just like he will in baseball.

"Basketball is my all-time favorite. Skill-wise, I think baseball is my sport," Hergert said.

He is a candidate to play in the Under Armour All-America baseball game this summer. He said he can play pretty much any position, any place the coach needs him. An outfielder last year, he believes he will be a shortstop this spring.

Interestingly, he has been contacted by college coaches in football and basketball, but not baseball.

Not that he would be against playing basketball in college. At 6-feet, Hergert said he likes it when he hears he is too short for the game.

"I take that as motivation," Hergert said. "There are a lot of 6-foot basketball players out there who are really good."

He also never was asked by anyone at Heritage to specialize in one sport. He believes all three sports help make him a better athlete in different ways.

In football, it's quickness. As a wide receiver, he must cut precisely to run the correct routes.

In basketball, it's elusiveness.

And baseball, it's hand-eye coordination and using the hips for torque. Also, the game helps with his mental focus.

While those skills have made Hergert an exceptional individual athlete, as a senior, he is hoping for more victories for his teams.

Especially in basketball, when that might mean fewer points for him because the defenses have left teammates such as Marquis Evans or David Martin with better looks at the basket.

"We have other people who can score," Hergert sid. "It's not just me."