ALBANY — Former Philomath High School teammates Trey Ecker and Riley Davis are running up and down the hardwood these days with Linn-Benton Community College's playoff-chasing men's basketball team.
Although Ecker has a season with the Roadrunners under his belt, he's experiencing a new dynamic this winter involving his role with the team.
"Being in the starting five is definitely a different mindset than coming off the bench," said Ecker, a 6-foot-5 wing who is one of three co-captains with fellow sophomores Cooper Getsfrid and Christopher Morsa. "You've got to go out and get after it, get after people and get those buckets when you can. I think that's really changed from last year to this year, just my mentality and having more of a scoring mindset at times, especially being in the starting lineup."
Davis, a 6-3 wing, got his second start of the season Wednesday against Clackamas Community College.
"I'm usually coming off the bench and getting some good minutes there, but tonight was a little special with being able to start and helping there," Davis said.
Davis has been forced to adjust to the speed of the game, a common reaction for many high school players when they hit the collegiate court.
"It was a little shocking at first, a lot faster," Davis said. "From going up against more athletic kids to getting my shot blocked off the backboard, it's a whole different game."
After Wednesday's 79-71 victory, LBCC (17-8 overall, 7-5 league) moved up into third place in the Northwest Athletic Conference's South Division, although the Roadrunners, Chemeketa and Clackamas are all even in the loss column. The top four teams advance to the conference playoffs.
Ecker took a little bit of a detour before ending up on Linn-Benton's campus and in a basketball uniform. Out of high school, he opted to play football at the College of the Redwoods, a two-year school in Eureka, California. But he stayed only for the 2015 season before heading home to Oregon.
Interestingly, Wednesday night's opponent, Clackamas, was a strong candidate to be Ecker's new school.
"We were pretty good family friends with Clif Wegner, the head coach over there," Ecker said. "When I came from California from playing football, they heavily recruited me."
Ecker's dad, Blake, coached with Wegner on a club team. But in the end, LBCC was the school of choice.
"Being closer to home was the main reason for the decision," Ecker said. "But I love Clackamas and so whenever we see each other, it's always fun playing against them."
Ecker is averaging 10.0 points per game, including a 3-point shooting percentage of 34.2 and an 82.1-percent success rate on free throws. He also averages 4.2 rebounds per game, one of the better numbers among those playing the wing.
Davis, a 2017 PHS graduate, got a little help from an administrator to find his way onto LBCC's campus.
"The vice principal over at Philomath, Mr. (Mike) Bussard, he had a couple of connections and got me talking to the coaches," said Davis, adding, "and I really appreciate that."
Davis is averaging 4.8 points this season and he finished with seven against Clackamas. Davis buried a 3-pointer early against the Cougars but his biggest hoops came during a pivotal stretch of the second half. The Roadrunners had trailed by double digits a few minutes earlier but were staging a rally.
Davis came away with a steal and finished with a layup with 7:35 left in the game to give LBCC at 58-57 lead. Then with 5:14 remaining, Davis scored on a reverse layup to again give the Roadrunners the lead at 62-60. The team played well the rest of the way and ended up with the eight-point victory to end a two-game skid and stay in the playoff hunt.
"Scoring is a little off and on, but I've been shooting a little more," Davis said. "I'm taking a lot more chances and being more aggressive."
Last season, Ecker played with former Philomath standout Brodie Marchant and then this year, Davis joined the mix.
"It's always fun playing with people you played with (in high school)," Ecker said. "It's always fun having that connection. I mean, there's just that little click — sometimes I'm looking one way and I know Riley's going the other way and I can make that pass. It just gives us that much more of an advantage on the court and makes it harder for the other teams to guard."
Jesse Marchant, Brodie's older brother, was also on the team last season. Head coach Everett Hartman has a Philomath connection as well, serving as the junior varsity coach for the Warriors several years ago.
Ecker and Davis both hope to continue their college educations while playing the sport they love. Ecker has a few possibilities in mind.
"I'm talking to Corban right now and I'm just keeping my options open throughout the season and will try to talk to a couple of smaller schools," he said. "And if the opportunity arises, I'll take advantage of that and take care of some schooling and go from there."
Davis is just a freshman, so he has time to further develop his game.
"I'm definitely looking forward to finishing this season on a high and coming back next year and doing even better," he said.