EAGLE POINT — In one respect, Logan Winter is amazed at how much he has grown as a basketball player and how far the program at Eagle Point has come during his three years as a starter.
On the other hand, the standout senior realizes both elements still have a long way to go before reaching their ultimate destination.
"For myself — and the team is kind of a reflection of this, too — the biggest thing has been the belief that we could be successful," Winter admits. "To come into a program that had been down for so long, guys needed to believe that we had a chance to be successful and that we could kinda change the culture of the program."
It's all been a work in progress for the Eagles, as well as Winter.
Brian Winter moved his family from Gilbert, Ariz., to Eagle Point prior to Logan's sophomore year in a career move that entailed taking over as the Eagles' Athletics Director as well as boys basketball coach. The Eagles had just gone through a 2-21 campaign in the 2007-08 season, and there was plenty of work to be done to revive excitement around the program.
Initially, Logan Winter was simply going to be a piece of the puzzle somewhere down the road for his dad's team. That all changed when he showed up four inches taller than he was as a freshman and stood out during open gyms, not only for his lanky 6-foot-3, 140-pound frame and size 16 shoes but also his promising skill set.
Suddenly, the Eagles had a working unit that boasted a 3-point threat in Winter and a pair of freshman posts in 6-3 Tyrone Holmes and 6-6 Zach Reed. The Eagles turned in a 7-17 season in 2008-09.
"We just weren't ready, though," the 18-year-old wing says of that first season. "We were up there (on varsity) but we weren't ready to handle all those minutes."
While that group may have taken its lumps back then, it helped fast-forward the learning curve for all involved, especially Winter.
"My game has matured so much and I think part of that was maybe getting thrown into the fire as a sophomore because they needed me and I was forced to respond," he says.
Brian Winter says the player that stepped on the floor as a sophomore is vastly different than the versatile one who commands constant attention these days.
"That first year was certainly a big learning curve for him," says the coach. "He was primarily a catch-and-shoot kid and couldn't go inside at all. Last year as a junior his game expanded to going inside and getting to the basket a little more. His biggest growth is now he's somebody that certainly can play inside or play inside and not miss a beat."
The numbers certainly support that statement. Logan Winter averages a team-best 18 points and 10.5 rebounds per game to complement 19 blocked shots and around two assists per game. He's grown into those size 16 shoes and stands 6-5 and 175 pounds these days.
"My main focus heading into this year was to work on my post game to exploit smaller defenders inside or outside," he says. "I've been much more efficient from the floor this year and found many more ways to score because of that."
During Tuesday's 52-41 win over Class 4A North Valley, Winter eclipsed the 1,000-point mark as an Eagle.
"That was kind of a neat milestone for him," says Brian Winter of his lone senior.
Beyond the personal accomplishment, however, Logan Winter says the biggest thing about Tuesday was walking away with a victory. The 5A Eagles have endured a head-shaking season that shows an 8-9 overall record but doesn't truly depict their talent level. Eagle Point suffered two-point losses on consecutive nights to open the season and that tough luck has expanded to where seven of the Eagles' nine losses have come by five points or fewer.
"It's been ridiculous how many close ones we've had slip away," says Logan Winter, who has received interest from a handful of Division II and III programs. "I'm still very excited about this team because I know what we're capable of doing. It's just about stringing a full game together, and we're still working on that."
With fellow 5A foe Ashland on the schedule for the next two Tuesdays, there certainly is no time like the present to find a solution. Eagle Point plays at Ashland and then hosts the Eagles the following week, with the winner of the series earning the No. 1 seed out of the 5A Southern Oregon Hybrid. In the event of a split series, the team with the best power ranking at the end of the regular season will receive the No. 1 seed. Ashland (7-8) currently ranks 15th with a 526 RPI, one spot ahead of Eagle Point's 521 RPI.
"It's real interesting the significance now placed on these two games on two consecutive Tuesdays," says coach Winter. "It's certainly been on our radar all year but with that being said, we're still working to get better every game. Every one of these games has been significant, whether we're playing North Medford or North Valley. It's about that game at that particular time and getting better so we can play our best on those Tuesdays."
Logan Winter says the key to his team's potential involves a good balance in responsibilities. Holmes averages 13.6 points and 9.3 rebounds, Reed is scoring seven points and pulling down six boards per game and junior point guard Jonathan Bolston is averaging 10 points.
"It's nice to know that you've got guys around you that you can count on," says the 4.0 student who aspires to go into medicine. "They're all capable of having double-doubles every game."
And if they all decide to make that happen over the next week or so, well so much the better.
"At this point, we have Hidden Valley on our radar for Saturday and it's a big game for us," says coach Winter. "We just can't afford a hiccup at this time."
Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail email@example.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Kris_Henry