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Valiant boys retool for 12

VC must replace four starters from last year's state tournament team
by: Miles Vance FLYING — Valley Catholic’s Christian McDonald is back to lead VC in 2011-12.

BEAVERTON - The Valley Catholic boys basketball team flew higher than almost any other team in VC history last year.

And while the Valiants would very much like to repeat last year's success - the team won the Lewis and Clark League title and went on to win the second state tournament trophy in school history (they were sixth) - they know that they face a very big challenge this season.

The team lost four starters from last year - two to graduation and two to transfer - and must rebuild in a league that currently features four of the state's top eight ranked teams.

'Last year's … league championship, and state trophy has led to a lot of excitement around the VC program,' said Valley Catholic coach Jeff Gallagher. But we 'will be fielding (our) youngest team in 10 years.'

This year's VC crew will be led by 6-foot-3 junior guard Christian McDonald, a first-team all-leaguer from 2011 and the team's second-leading scorer from a year ago. His play will be even more important for Valley Catholic in 2011-12.

'Barring injury, (McDonald) will become Valley's first ever 1,000-point scorer' midway through the year, Gallagher said. 'Christian is an extremely gifted offensive player who inspires his teammates by playing just as hard on defense. He is the best offensive player in the Lewis and Clark League.'

Other important pieces to this year's team will be 5-9 senior guard Jake Olsen (He's 'coming off of a great state tournament,' Gallagher said) and 6-3 senior John Boileau, who returns after a shoulder injury kept him off the floor last year.

The team will also have to overcome the loss of 6-2 sophomore guard Carter Buuck, who tore his ACL and MCL in summer play. Ready to step into varsity roles this year are 5-10 junior guard Liam Cassidy, 5-10 sophomore guard Jarrett Gray, 5-7 junior guard Jordan Runstein, and promising 6-2 sophomore post Canaan Sellers (He 'may be the surprise of the LCL if he continues to develop,' Gallagher said).

The rest of the VC lineup will include 6-0 sophomore guard Kazuma Lane, 6-2 junior guard Carlos Catibayan, 5-11 freshman guard Tysen Prunty, 6-0 freshman guard Reid Bucy, 6-1 freshman post David Baglai, 6-3 sophomore post John Tate, and 6-1 freshman post Drew VanderZanden.

Still, the team knows that the Lewis and Clark League will present plenty of tests in 2011-12, with De La Salle currently ranked fourth in the state, while the Valiants are sixth, Warrenton is seventh and Rainier eighth.