I was never a big basektball fan. I knew and cared more about football and baseball, so basketball was always on the back burner for me. It wasn’t until I started to get halfway good at the game that I started to pay attention.

I haven’t found myself this excited about basketball season in a long time, maybe since Washington was pretty good. But I’m excited about this season.

There are a lot of story lines that I want to mention but not spoil.

I’m excited to see what Jake McElligot does at Hermiston, and I’m excited to see what the Hermiston girls do to rebound from their third-place finish last year.

I’m excited to see how the Stanfield boys do after finishing third, and I’m excited to see what Daniel Sharp can do with the girls, too.

I’m excited to see the Umatilla boys get better and the Umatilla girls go further.

I’m excited to see what the Echo boys can do with more numbers this year, and I’m excited to see the Echo girls make noise.

That’s all I’ll say about basektball for now, because there’s another sport that’s pretty big around here: Wrestling.

When I first learned I would be moving out here, I heard a steady stream of two things: There’s some good watermelon here, and there’s some good wrestling here.

My first time in Hermiston’s gym I saw the banners: state wrestling champs four out of five years. I looked at last year’s state brackets and saw a boat load of success. I’ve seen all the trophies, all the accolades the wrestling program has earned and garnered, and I’m excited to see it in action.

But I’m also equally excited to see Echo/Stanfield’s wrestling team get going. It’s not every day a program starts from scratch, and I really admire the people behind it. It’s a big deal to start at the beginning and become a strong program, and it’ll take some time. But it will be really fun to watch those guys grow into good wrestlers.

I’d also like to thank everybody who helped me early on this football season get acclimated to the environment. Everyone has been so hospitable and understanding with me. It really made my first few months in a new place an easy transition. I’ve had fun so far.

But enough about me. These next two weeks are going to fly by because of everything that’s coming up. Basketball starts at the end of next week. Wrestling starts, too, and the high school football season will be over and a champion crowned.

Things are going to start to pick up again, and, boy, I can’t wait.

Sam Barbee is the sports reporter for the Hermiston Herald. He can be reached at sbarbee@hermistonherald.com or 541-564-4542

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