A stray pole from a pile of metal on a farm in Yelm, a scrap of wood for a backboard and a rim — all fastened together by bolts.
Christian Davis and his brother Alfred had a basketball hoop.
“We made it ourselves, but it was a hoop, so we were happy,” Davis said. “We were always playing on it. And (Alfred) dunked on it and broke it.”
Christian Davis, now a senior at Yelm High School, is averaging 33 points per game — a substantial gap from the 19 points per game he averaged last season.
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“The biggest thing that changed was my brother helping me out this summer,” Davis said. “This past summer was the most I’ve ever shot, went to the gym and worked out. I’ve been more aggressive.”
All thanks to Alfred — a Lincoln product, who also played at Western Washington University.
The two spent much of Davis’ offseason training at the YMCA in downtown Tacoma.
One night, Alfred told his brother to attempt a dunk two-handed off of one foot.
When Christian missed, he ran a set of lines. When he missed again, he ran another set.
“I’m like, ‘I can’t do it,’” Davis said. “He’s like, ‘No, you can. Just do it. You can, just believe in yourself.
“Next thing you know, I’m doing this drill, I’m tired. I’ve run five sets of lines already. I go and dunk it easily, and I look back, and he just smiles at me.”
The breakthrough with the mental part of his game has made the difference for Davis.
“We knew he could score whenever he wanted,” Yelm coach Jordan Barnes said. “Scoring’s never been an issue for him. But this year, he knew he had to score at a high level. There were no debates. The guys are taking it in stride, and he’s doing exceptionally well.”
Davis dropped a season-high 44 points against Rogers in Yelm’s season opener.
Alfred was in the stands — just as he was for each of Yelm’s games last season.
“He always sits behind the opposite student section where everyone is yelling at me,” Davis said. “He’ll just sit by them and talk to me. And I feel like nobody else is there, just him.”
But that was the last time the two brothers saw each other — Alfred left two days later to join a basketball league in South Korea.
“It was sad,” Davis said. “I got it all out, but it was sad.”
Davis — who said he plays every game for Alfred and for his mother, Veronika — switched his jersey number from No. 33 to No. 0 this season.
The same number Alfred wore in high school.
“If he’s not in my life, I’m not this good,” Davis said. “He helped me with everything.”
Which Davis intends to give back to his teammates.
Yelm hasn’t been to a playoff game for more than a decade, but Davis could be the key to ending the drought.
“He’s very important, he’s crucial,” Barnes said. “He knows that a lot of us getting to the playoffs is going to be on him. Once we get everyone healthy and on the same page, we’re going to be very, very tough.”
Davis missed one game with a wrist injury, but has scored more than 20 points in each of his six appearances.
“Yelm’s not going to be the same this year,” he said. “It’s not going to be the same. People always put Yelm at the bottom. Yeah, we’re going to be underdogs, but we’re coming.”
CLASS 4A NARROWS LEAGUE
League prediction: Timberline, Bellarmine Prep, Gig Harbor, Stadium, South Kitsap, Yelm, Olympia
Mark the date: Bellarmine Prep at Timberline, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 16
Coach: John Kiley, first season back since 2003, 11th season overall
2014-2015 record: 4-16, 3-9 4A Narrows
Impact players: G Eddie Beusch, 6-1, sr.; G Liam Murphy 6-0, sr.; F Hunter Sipe, 6-3, jr.; F Brett Thompson, 6-4, sr.; F David Woodward, 6-3, sr.
The skinny: After a 13-year absence, Kiley is back to fish the Bears out of the 4A Narrows basement — and so far it’s working. Olympia is 2-0 out of the gate with double-digit wins over Kentwood and Yelm. Woodward — The Olympian’s All-Area football player of the year — is leading the way, averaging 14.5 points a game.
Coach: Allen Thomas, fourth season
2014-2015 record: 18-8, 9-3 4A Narrows
Impact players: F Jaelen Bush, 6-8, jr.; F Jarryn Bush, 6-3, sr.; G Austin Curry, 6-3, sr.; G Tariq Romain, 5-9, jr.; G Erik Stevenson, 6-4, so.
The skinny: Won the league title last season, but lost to eventual state champion Federal Way in the regional round of the 4A tournament. Plenty of fire to get to the Dome this year, led by Stevenson, who has compiled 80 points in four games. Only loss in 3-1 start is to 3A league-favorite Wilson.
Coach: Jordan Barnes, third season
2014-2015 record: 6-14, 4-8 4A Narrows
Impact players: F Chad Davis, 6-2, sr.; G Christian Davis, 6-4, sr.; G Danny Jansen, 5-11, sr.
The skinny: Christian Davis averaged 19 points a game last season. This year? He’s nearly doubled it. He’s averaging 33 points per game, though the Tornados are 3-4 to start (0-2 4A Narrows). Yelm hasn’t been to a playoff game in 16 years.
CLASS 3A NARROWS
League prediction: Wilson, Lincoln, Foss, North Thurston, Central Kitsap, Mount Tahoma, Shelton, Capital
Mark the date: Olympia at Capital, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 23
Coach: Brian Vandiver, first season
2014-2015 record: 3-17, 2-12 3A Narrows
Impact players: G/F Connor Hayden, 6-1, sr.; G Matt Mickelson, 6-0, jr.; G/F Travis Miller, 6-1, sr.; F/P Race Robinson, 6-1, sr.; P Chris Schnellman, 6-5, jr.
The skinny: Three coaching changes in four years hasn’t helped. The entire staff was overhauled during the offseason, and it looks as if the Cougars, who are 2-4, 0-2, are working to rebuild.
Coach: Tim Brown, 23rd season
2014-2015 record: 9-14, 6-8 3A Narrows
Impact players: F Clay Christian, 6-3, so.; F Wes Reynolds, 6-4, sr.; G Zack Sibley, 6-1, sr.; F Darren Sroor, 6-6, sr.; G Aaron Stone, 6-1, so.; G Kyle Stone, 6-5, jr.
The skinny: Plenty of reliability from seniors Reynolds — a four-year starter — and Sroor, who are each averaging 12 points a game. Christian is adding another 11 points a game, and the Rams are hovering around the middle of the league at 3-2, 1-1.
Coach: Derrick Pringle, second season
2014-2015 record: 7-16, 5-10 3A Narrows
Impact players: F Kobe Bogh, 6-5, jr.; G Drew Cruse, 5-11, sr.; G Kyle Kimball, 6-2, jr.; G Marshall McCullough, 6-1, jr.; G Kevin Scott, 5-11, sr.
The skinny: It’s the 40th anniversary of Shelton’s 1976 state championship team, but the Highclimbers have an uphill battle to get back there. After advancing to district for the first time in 10 years last season, Shelton is 3-2, 1-1 to start this one.
CLASS 2A SOUTH PUGET SOUND LEAGE
League prediction: River Ridge, White River, Washington, Clover Park, Fife, Steilacoom, Franklin Pierce, Orting
Mark the date: River Ridge at Tumwater, 5:15 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 30
Coach: John Barbee, fourth season
2014-2015 record: 22-6, 11-3 2A SPSL
Impact players: F Mac Armstrong, 6-4, sr.; F Jordan Brown, 6-4, jr.; G Kobe Key, 5-10, sr.; G LaBrandon Price, 6-1, sr.; G Issiah Scott, 6-0, sr.
The skinny: Finished third at the 2A state tournament last year, and look just as — if not more — dangerous. River Ridge returns 70 percent of its offensive scoring effort. Jaden White is averaging 16 points a game for the 4-1 (2-0 2A SPSL) Hawks.
CLASS 2A EVERGREEN CONFERENCE
League prediction: Tumwater, Centralia, Black Hills, W.F. West
Mark the date: Tumwater at Black Hills, 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5
Coach: Jeff Gallagher, fourth season
2014-2015 record: 13-10, 4-2 2A EvCo
Impact players: G TJ Mickelson, 6-1, jr.
The skinny: Mickelson returns as the 2A EvCo co-player of the year from last season to lead the Wolves, but they’re young. Five sophomores will see regular varsity time for Black Hills, which is 2-2.
Coach: Ron Brown, 55th season
2014-2015 record: 13-12, 2-4 2A EvCo
Impact players: G/F Hodges Bailey, 6-1, jr.; F Christian Peters, 6-1, sr.; G/F Deter Voetberg, 5-11, sr.; F Nolan Wasson, 6-2, sr.
The skinny: Not a lot of depth — only seven players listed on the varsity roster — and not a lot of height. But the Tigers do return Bailey, a first-team 2A EvCo selection last season, who averaged 21 points a game. Centralia is 2-3 out of the gate.
Coach: Thomas Rowswell, third season
2014-2015 record: 20-4, 6-0
Impact players: G Ty Gentry, 6-5, sr.; G Jacob Gibbons, 6-4, sr.; F Cade Otton, 6-4, jr.; F Weston VandenHazel, 6-9, sr.
The skinny: Knocked out in the regional round of last year’s 2A state tournament. Has to shuffle quickly to get football players into basketball mindset — T-Birds are 2-2 so far this season. Gentry averaging 17 points a game right now, and Gibbons averaging 16 points a game.
Coach: Chris White, first season
2014-2015 record: 0-21, 0-6
Impact players: G/F Dakota Hawkins, 6-0, so.; F Nolan Hawkins, 6-2, sr.; F Adam Schwarz, 6-7, sr.; F Brandon White, 6-6, so.; G Nole Wollan, 6-0, so.
The skinny: Well, it’s already going better than last year. The Bearcats snapped a 25-game losing streak — spanning three seasons — with a 57-56 win over Rochester on Dec. 5. W.F. West is 1-3 to begin the season.
CLASS 1A EVERGREEN CONFERENCE
League prediction: Aberdeen, Eatonville, Hoquiam, Montesano, Tenino, Forks, Elma, Rochester
Mark the date: Elma at Tenino, 7 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 7
Coach: Mark Goldrick, fifth season
2014-2015 record: 2-18, 2-12 1A EvCo
Impact players: G Noah Escott, 6-3, jr.; F Tiki Hickle, 6-2, sr.; F Josh Kennedy, 6-7, jr.; F Brandon Rogers, 6-3, sr.
The skinny: A lot of youth and inexperience here. And three games in four days to wrap up last week exploited it. The Warriors are quickly in a 0-5 (0-2 1A EvCo) hole with defending league champion Aberdeen visiting Friday.
Coach: Marvin Prince, 12th season
2014-2015 record: 6-16, 5-9 1A EvCo
Impact players: G Bryson Crisp, 5-11, sr.; F Kolton Emerson, 6-8, sr.; F Elijah Martin, 6-4, sr.; F Blake Sackrider, 6-6, sr.
The skinny: Emerson will likely be the centerpiece for the 2-2 (0-1 1A EvCo) Eagles. He brings size, quality footwork and a 16-point, 9-rebound average per game last season. Elma did lose a weapon in Tiki Hickle, a 6-foot-2 senior forward who transferred to Rochester this year.
Coach: Josef Chirhart, second season
2014-2015 record: 11-11, 7-7 1A EvCo
Impact players: G Tano Bailon, 5-8, sr.; F Nihls Peterson, 6-4, sr.; G Thomas Pier, 5-8, sr.
The skinny: Graduated seven seniors last season, so finding chemistry quickly could get bumpy for the 2-3 (0-2 1A EvCo) Beavers. Tenino does return three starters, including two-time 1A EvCo first-teamer Peterson, who averaged 18 points, nine rebounds a game last season.
CLASS 2B PACIFIC
League prediction: Life Christian Academy, Ocosta, Rainier, Chief Leschi, Ilwaco, North Beach, South Bend, Raymond, Willapa Valley, Tacoma Baptist, Northwest Christian
Mark the date: Rainier at Northwest Christian, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 12
Coach: Travis Van Marter, third season
2014-2015 record: 0-20, 0-10 2B Pacific
Impact players: G Ryan Griffin, 5-9, sr.; F Trey Jones, 5-11, sr.; F Peter Kosierowski, 5-10, jr.; F Jayce Li, 5-11, jr.; F Bryan McNair, 6-4, jr.; F Dominick Miller, 5-11, sr.
The skinny: Four seniors on the roster, but so far the season is shaping up like the last. The Navigators have lost four straight to start the season — including dropping three in a row to league rivals Rainier, Chief Leschi and Ocosta.
Coach: Clint LeMay, first season
2014-2015 record: 9-13, 4-6 2B Pacific
Impact players: G Shouridama Beadle, 5-10, jr.; G McKoy Bichler, 5-10, sr.; G Todd Eygabroad, 5-10, sr.; F Dylan Wendler, 6-1, sr.
The skinny: Size is the biggest issue, but LeMay relies on the team’s athleticism to make up for it. Bichler, a 2B Pacific first-teamer last season, is back to lead the Mountaineers, who are off to a 3-3 (1-0 2B Pacific) start.