action when the Comets are host to Klamath Union on Saturday night. - Jamie Lusch

Sparking the Comets

CENTRAL POINT — For Crater coach Troy McNichols, there's just something special about Travis Robbins.

The 6-foot-1 senior guard has all the physical tools to be successful on the basketball court, but none serve him better than the competitive fire that burns within.

"I think what makes Travis so special, at least for our program, is he plays 100 percent all the time," McNichols says. "His love of the game kind of radiates from him, and the heart that he plays with is very contagious."

It's a spark-plug role Robbins is happy to fulfill, even though some of his hard work never ends up on a stat sheet.

"I just play as hard as I possibly can and try to do a lot of the little things and get everybody focused on them, too," says the 17-year-old.

From boxing out to helping fill defensive lanes or making his own way to the basket, Robbins is blessed with tremendous versatility the Comets have used to their benefit thus far in posting an 11-4 overall and 3-1 conference record.

"He can do everything," says McNichols. "He's someone we post up at times, someone we have bring up the ball at times, whatever we need."

As testament to his all-around play, Robbins is averaging 12.8 points, seven rebounds, two steals and two assists in Southern Sky Conference play. Fellow seniors Josh Lokeno (15.3 points) and Jeff Lee (10.3 points) also rank among the league's top-10 scorers.

"I like doing whatever we need to do to win," says Robbins. "If it's playing defense and not scoring and just passing the ball, I'm fine with that. It's just about winning the game."

Giving it his all has especially been important this year, as it is for most seniors who have yet to accomplish their goals. Crater hasn't won a league title since the 1989-90 season during the Southern Oregon Conference days, and Robbins says the Comets are determined to snap that string.

"Me, Josh, Jeff and Kirk (Corcoran) have all been friends since forever and we just all want to finish on top in conference," Robbins says of the senior quartet. "We don't want our season to end badly and leave high school with a bad taste in our mouths."

It was that unwavering desire that helped the Comets gain their biggest win two weeks ago in a 52-50 nail-biter over two-time defending champion Ashland.

Robbins came up with a pair of big rebounds down the stretch — they led to an inside basket and a pair of free throws — to put Crater up 52-47. After Ashland senior Charlie Sebrell drained a 3-pointer, Robbins missed the front end of a one-and-one but kept his head up and sprinted downcourt to block Sebrell's last-second 3-pointer to seal the victory.

"It was nice to finally get a win against them," Robbins says. "That was definitely one of the funnest games I've ever played in."

It didn't surprise McNichols at all that when a play needed to be made, Robbins was there.

"When we've needed stops, Travis has been in the mix I would say 95 percent of the time," says the fourth-year coach. "Whether it's locking his man down or getting a hand in the lane or whatever, he's played a big part on defense. We've been extremely pleased with his defensive effort this year."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 776-4488, or e-mail

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