By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Jordan Graneto was voted the Greater Valley Conference’s boys basketball assistant coach of the year after McNary won the league title last season.     

But it was his experience as a player, where he won two league championships with the Celtics, that attracted Graneto to coaching.

He wanted to be like Jim Litchfield and Erik Jespersen, his varsity and JV coaches at McNary.

“I was on two really good teams when I was in high school,” Graneto said. “I just grew up around those guys (Litchfield and Jespersen) and they were the inspiration for me wanting to become a teacher and a coach. I loved basketball and those two were role models for me growing up.”

After graduating from McNary in 2009, Graneto earned a scholarship to play basketball at Corban University. After two seasons, Graneto stopped playing to become a volunteer assistant at Sprague.

Right out of college, Graneto got his first teaching job at North Salem, where he was the JV coach.

At just 22-years-old, Graneto was then named the head varsity coach at North Salem.

But after two years he decided to return home and accepted a teaching position at McNary, where he was also the JV coach and assistant varsity coach under Ryan Kirch.

“It’s always different going from being in charge of an entire program to being someone’s assistant,” Graneto said. “Ryan does a really good job and he gave me a lot of responsibility that I had control over with the varsity and JV team. I learned a lot from the different ways that he runs it.”

With Graneto as an assistant, the Celtics had two of their best seasons in the program’s history, winning 20 games last season and 19 the year before.

“The last three or four years are some of the best teams in McNary’s history,” Graneto said.

“I’ve been watching McNary basketball since I was eight or nine years old. They remind me a lot of the teams when I was in high school because they were a little bit undersized but they just moved the basketball so well and worked for good shots. A lot of times if you do that and play good defense then you’re going to be able to win.”

Making the extra pass and playing team defense will continue to be the focus as Graneto takes over the boys basketball program at Sprague, where his coaching career began.

“I’ve known Craig (Swanson), the principal at Sprague for a while,” Graneto said. “He was the athletic director when I was an assistant. We got to know each other a little bit then. I just felt comfortable with the situation with Craig being here and I trusted him.”

The Olympians will be one of the youngest teams in the new Mountain Valley Conference, after the graduation of Teagan Quitoriano, the leading scorer in the program’s history, and the transfer of Jailen Hammer to Clackamas.

“The kids have worked really hard so far,” Graneto said. “They want to get better, which is my main deal. I wanted to be somewhere where the kids really wanted to get better and so far they’ve done all that I’ve asked them in the offseason. They’re dedicated and I think they’re ready to go this year.”

Sprague opens the season on Friday, Nov. 30 at Canby. The Olympians first home game is Friday, Dec. 7 against Beaverton. They host McNary on Jan. 24.