Much like their collegiate counterparts, local basketball players know the season has truly began once the calendar flips to a new year.
With much of non-league play now out of the way, and with players (hopefully) refreshed and refocused after a lengthy winter break, area teams are turning their attention to their respective league opponents. Ultimately, it is these league games - and each teams’ subsequent league record - that will decide who moves on to the postseason later in the winter.
For a team like the Cottage Grove boys basketball team, the start to the 2019-20 basketball season could have been a bit smoother, but a plethora of non-league games before January is a boon in the long-run.
“Not a lot of these kids have a lot of varsity experience,” said head coach Seth Huthison. The goal, then, early in the season for the Lions went beyond wins and losses.
“Just kind of getting a feel for the speed of the game and building that team chemistry, just continuing to grow for that first league game,” Hutchison added.
Further team chemistry was built through a pair of three-day tournaments over the holiday break when the team traveled long distances to both Seaside and Sisters. All of it is for one express purpose.
“We’re really trying to gear up for January … for our first league game against Siuslaw,” Hutchison said. “Everything we’re doing is going towards that. Our goals start there.”
It is little different for the other area teams and while the smaller Skyline schools to the south of Cottage Grove begin league games this week and next, Cottage Grove must wait only a couple short weeks before their old rivals begin coming to town. From Jan. 17-24, both Lions squads will play three games in eight days against Siuslaw, Marshfield and Marist.
Hutchison’s team is a young squad that is continuing to progress, while the talented girls team hopes to avoid the same big-game jitters that hampered their volleyball success. If early non-league signs are any indication, the Lady Lions could press for a league title.
Douglas County, in its own right, is overflowing with girls’ basketball talent as Yoncalla, Elkton and North Douglas are all currently ranked in the OSAA top-20. The three teams are scheduled to have six total head-to-head matchups this year beginning with an Elkton/Yoncalla clash on Sat., Jan. 4. The North Douglas and Yoncalla boys’ teams both boast rosters with talent and experience, while the Elkton boys look to make headway with a young group.
Only time will tell what the league season holds, but after a few weeks of rest and relaxation, the basketball players of Cottage Grove, Yoncalla, North Douglas and Elkton High Schools are ready to prove their mettle. Or so their fans hope.
Other scores & results
CGHS boys basketball: Head coach Seth Hutchison kept his young roster busy during the holiday break, traveling east to Sisters for a three-day weekend tournament.
The Lions (4-7) had a tall task in their first game on Fri., Dec. 27 losing to last year’s state champions, Banks (6-4), 79-53. CG then bounced back on Saturday against the host team, beating the Outlaws (2-8) 38-26 before dropping a nail-biter on Sunday to a tough Baker squad (6-5), 60-57. The Lions now get a short reprieve before picking their schedule back up on Tues., Jan. 7 when they will host Crook County (7-4).
Yoncalla girls basketball: On Friday, Dec. 27 the Eagles (7-2) were narrowly defeated in an away game against Regis (6-3), 42-40, for just their second loss of the season. Despite being unable to come away with the victory, Yoncalla got solid contributions from Alison Van Loon (nine points, seven rebounds, eight assists, three steals), Kaleigh Soto (19 points) and Ashley Powes (12 points and 11 rebounds). They next travel to Glendale on Fri., Jan. 3.
Elkton basketball: The Elks had a tough Christmas week as their boys and girls lost all four of their scheduled contests. Both teams traveled to St. Paul and Perrydale for back-to-back games on Fri. and Sat., Dec. 27 and 28.
The girls (7-2), taking on top-ranked St. Paul (9-0) and third-ranked Perrydale (7-2), lost 60-34 and 32-27, respectively. The boys (2-7) kept it closer against St. Paul (3-6), losing 57-46, but were drubbed by twelfth-ranked Perrydale (7-1) in the second contest, 54-35. The Elks will look to get another in the win column when they travel to Camas Valley on Fri., Jan. 3 for their first league games of the year.