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Oregon Prep Basketball: A Debriefing
A quick review of the state’s high school hoops tourneys for 2023 and more
As a Salem-Keizer (Central Valley Conference) radio sportscaster, spring is an extremely busy time of year for yours truly. Even if our teams don’t advance to the elite eight at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center, there is plenty else to report on locally for state tournament action.
I have attached (at the end) a list of results involving teams in the greater Marion-Polk/Salem-Keizer Community. It took a lot of work to compile that list—and apologies in advance for any errors (misspellings, math issues, etc.) that might have shown up in that document.
This debriefing will jump all over the place—so be sure to read with some care.
At the 6A level, the West Salem boys finished just out of the money for Chiles Center competition—but they were a very good team that simply ran into a bigger opponent in Beaverton, losing by 30. The Beavers ended up falling in the consolation (4th/6th place) game to a very athletic Gresham squad. So many good teams were involved in the 6A boys tournament, won by defending champion Tualatin—which shut down top-ranked West Linn to win the title.
On to local area trophy winners. The West Salem girls brought home their first ever basketball trophy, nabbing the sixth-place trophy after losing to Willamette of Eugene. The two teams are going to be very good for several more years. Coach Katie Singleton is losing conference co-players of the year Mady Diaz and Lizzy Bennett to graduation, but they have a pool of freshmen returning next season, anchored by all-conference post Emma Zuniga. Look for the Lady Titans to advance to state for a few seasons to come—knock on wood to avoid injuries.
The 4A tournament in Forest Grove was a big deal to the fans in Turner—as the Cascade High School boys won their second straight championship, guided by first year coach Justin Amaya.
Coach Amaya and I were wide awake at four in the morning, and exchanged comments online. His team had rented a house in Hillsboro, and were there telling stories and resting best they could after their late night victory over league rival Philomath at Forest Grove High School.
Amaya shared that he and his coaching staff tried their best to keep the team in a routine to maintain focus during the course of the three-day event.
The Cougars had lights-out at about midnight each evening. Breakfast was at 10:00 am, followed by a shoot around at a local gym shortly after 11:30 am—and then, lunch. Everyone, including coaches, took a power nap for about an hour, until 2:30. The plan was to be at the tournament site for the tipoff of the game prior to Cascade’s contest. They kept winning, and the routine was a decided success.
Coach Amaya also tried to inspire his players a bit, reading a well-known poem called “Hold the Rope.” It is a fairly long literary piece, but it does coach up the concept of team unity with the metaphor of holding on to a rope despite challenges that make it easy to just let go. One segment reads in part:
When you look at every member on your team or coach and say to yourself that they would all hold the rope, you are destined to win a lot of tournaments. You see, the team that holds the rope when the going gets tough are winners… every year there are winners and losers in sports. Every year, the winners hold the rope.
Cascade never lost its grip in bringing home a second straight hoops title.
The 2A tournament in Pendleton involved a number of mid-valley teams playing for trophies. For the girls, an upstart Gervais squad brought home the 2A crown. And the top ranked Salem Academy girls overcame a heartbreaking opening-day loss to work through the consolation bracket and claim the fourth place trophy.
For the boys in Pendleton, Salem Academy made school history, claiming its first-ever boys championship with a 14 point win over Western Christian, which is located just outside of West Salem in Polk County. The mid-valley also claimed third and fourth place. Kennedy of Mount Angel pounded Hepper to finish third, and Regis of Stayton brought home the fourth place trophy winning the consolation crown with a victory over Mannahouse Academy of Portland.
The 1A tournament in Baker was a big deal for tiny Crosshill Christian—located in South Salem. The Eagles made it to the boys championship game for the first time in school history (read the original story here). Alas, Crosshill had to play defending state champion Crane, and the deep and talented Mustangs coasted to victory. Still, Crosshill players will have quite the story to tell their kids and grandkids.
Whew—I am tired just writing about all this physically-taxing hoops play. Imagine how the kids feel. I love Oregon’s edition of March madness. The national college edition begins this week—and I will have to hurriedly fill out a bracket before the games begin. The prep edition is still a lot of fun.
Congratulations to all high school teams who took part in the 2022-23 season.
One more important prep hoops story of note
I wrote several weeks back about the inspirational efforts of Salem-area basketball referee Randall Goree. The 67-year old official had undergone a surgical procedure in February to clear a 95 percent blockage of his carotid artery.
Two weeks later, Randall was back on the court blowing his whistle and running around with great vigor. The only limit to his activity was lifting weight of any significant amount. Although he gave up post season officiating at the end of last season, Goree is still committed to blowing the whistle during the regular season.
Fast forward to the final night of tournament basketball at the 6A tournament in Portland.
Randall was brought out to mid-court to be honored for his officiating prowess over the past 34 years.
The Oregon Athletic Officials Association awarded its 2023 Basketball Official of the Year award to Goree. He was recognized for being an integral part of the Salem Association, and for his efforts as a leader and mentor to younger officials, showing the utmost professionalism while on the job.
Randall was selected by a statewide committee from among several candidates nominated on a statewide basis.
So the powers-that-be got Goree to do something that he vowed he would no longer do.
They got him to a state tournament.
Congrats, Randall. You are still a friendly curmudgeon.
»Here is that list of local area prep basketball trophy winners for this season.«