Prep basketball is back
The season is underway, and early public response is GOOD
Oregon prep basketball got underway locally Wednesday night at North Salem High School, and if the crowd was any indication, it could be a very good year.
I am not suggesting that 6A North Salem or 5A McKay are favorites in their respective conferences. McKay was winless last season, while North Salem has a brand spanking new coach. But the enthusiasm on display was large and relatively loud—a good sign on the other side of the COVID pandemic.
Both the host Vikings and visiting Scots had good sized crowds of fans for both the girls and boys games played Wednesday. The girls’ game, which ran nearly 30 minutes late, was won by McKay 56-36. A warm round of applause was doled out by the fans after the contest was over about 8:15 pm.
The boys game was closer to start, with North leading by five at the half. But the Vikings—with several players on the roster who had gotten just two days of practice after playing in the Columbia Cup championship football game last week—pushed the lead to double digits in the third quarter, settling in the end for a 67-57 victory.
Both coaches—Kyle Oglesby for McKay, and Bryan Huber for North Salem—coached with intensity and their players responded with some pretty good basketball after a slow first quarter.
Even the veteran officiating crew, anchored by Fred Martin—and splendidly supported by Brandon Borst and Craig Bush, were chomping at the bit to call a game—and they did, to the satisfaction of the crowd in the stands—stands that were around three-quarters full—which is pretty impressive for the week after Thanksgiving.
North even put together a make-shift concessions stand with candy and soft drinks—and many students and adults lined up to snag a snack. I personally purchased a Snickers bar at half time of the boys contest.
Hoops teams all across Oregon will be taking part in non-conference tilts like Wednesday’s game at North—with small and large tournaments mixed into the slate until league play begins either just before or after winter break.
North Salem was my stomping grounds as a teacher, so it was great to see former teaching colleagues, ex-students—a few which enthusiastically gave me a hug, and even friends from non-school settings were in the seats, just enjoying a game with friends. It was great to absorb all the camaraderie being shared inside the bright shiny gymnasium, which seemed as eager as its occupants to christen the new basketball season.
I left North Salem High School invigorated Wednesday night—and I hadn’t broadcast one solitary word over the radio. Broadcasts will begin January fifth, and seeing all the people present for the game was a great way to build my own enthusiasm as preparation starts up with coach interviews—photos like the few shared from tonight’s contest—and statistics that are a necessary component of a successful basketball season.
Be sure to get out to a basketball game or two—or ten this winter. A full Central Valley Conference Schedule will be shared soon for the five 6A teams doing battle in a triple round robin format from January to early March, with the playoffs to begin shortly thereafter.
Come out to hear the sounds of student cheers, squeaking shoes on the hardwood, and shrill whistles of the referees. Enjoy the smell of freshly prepared popcorn, hot dogs, and other concessions food sold by smiling students.
Embrace the emotional roller coaster that high school basketball presents on a nearly nightly basis. And show your own support with cheers, purchases, and encouragement of our local basketball athletes.
Basketball, after all, is fun.