If a Central Christian basketball game resembles a football game at times this season, neither junior guard Josh Biever nor coach Brian Delamarter will mind.
Because Central Christian does not have a football team, Biever swapped one purple and black uniform for another and was one of the top players on Ridgeview’s football team . Now he’s back practicing at Mountain View Fellowship, preparing for the upcoming basketball season with Central Christian.
“We are happy to have him back at the 1A level,” said Central Christian coach Brian Delamarter. “He could go up and play with those guys at 5A, but we are lucky to have him at our school. It is a nice option for those kids that are talented enough to go up and play there. Josh certainly is.”
It is not uncommon for Central Christian, which only offers four sports all year, to have athletes compete in sports that the small Christian school doesn’t offer — like football, softball or track and field — for either Ridgeview or Redmond.
It is less common for a 1A athlete to have the type of impact Biever had playing 5A football. Biever rushed for 1,119 yards and 10 touchdowns for the Ravens this fall, earning second-team all-Intermountain Conference honors.
Delamarter is hoping that Biever’s exploits on the football field will translate onto the basketball court. The junior guard already thinks it will help the team this winter.
“I feel like the football mentality of getting after it, is good,” Biever said. “I try to bring that to basketball because football is a contact sport and it’s aggressive. I think basketball needs to be like that, too. Being tough is going to be the key to our success with our team because we have some big guys and we need to be aggressive, and I need to lead in that.”
“In football, you’re kind of a crazy, you have to be to play football, so he makes practices fun, guys have to work harder to keep up with him,” Delamarter said. “We’ve got some talent; it’s just a fun energy that he brings — it’s contagious.”
The Tigers are still seeking their first playoff berth since joining the Mountain Valley League in 2014.
Central Christian’s improvement has been incremental the past five seasons. In the last two years, the Tigers have become a middling team in the league, after spending their first three seasons in the conference’s basement.
Delamarter mentioned that his teams have been adequate on offense, but unable to match the same production on the defensive end of the floor.
With more depth and the most athletic team he has coached since taking over the Central Christian program, defense has been a focal point throughout the first two weeks of practice.
With two returning second-team all-Mountain Valley League players in Biever and senior big man Jace Mills— who Delamarter and Biever believe is one of the better big men in the conference — as well as more players that can provide minutes than in the past, the Tigers are up to the task.
“We are going to get in each other’s grill and then we are going to say good job and do it again tomorrow,” Delamarter said.
Biever said the defense could be better this winter if they use a trick he picked up on the gridiron — talking.
“In football, I’m more vocal,” he said. “I’m trying to bring that to our defense because I feel like we need to talk more, and that’s why we have been so down is because we aren’t communicating,” Biever said. “I feel like with football and being around that bigger school they already know that communicating is a big part of playing defense.”
The path toward a winning season and postseason berth will not be without its obstacles. In their five nonleague games, the Tigers play an Umpqua Valley Christian team that won 19 games a season ago as well as Horizon Christian and Sherman — teams that advanced to the Class 1A state tournament last season.
“We have to have our head in the game no matter what the score is,” Biever said on the importance of maneuvering through a difficult schedule. “We have to keep going because we have a lot of games. If we do that, I think we are going to have a good season.”
The schedule does not get much easier once league play starts. The Tigers have two matchups each with Trinity Lutheran and Triad. Trinity Lutheran played in the state title game and Triad made the state tournament in Baker. Delamarter said those teams will once again be formidable opponents in the MVL.
“I think going into this year (the players) are confident that they can compete with those teams,” Delamarter said. “We’ll see.”