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Damascus ready to fly high

The Eagles are off to a 4-0 start with some impressive early season wins over bigger schools


by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Corbetts Maya Ballard calls for the ball underneath the basket during a game last season. She is one of 11 returning seniors in the Cardinals lineup this winter.

You know you’ve built a powerhouse program when winning the regular season league title and ending the year with 23 wins is a disappointment. But that was how it seemed for the Damascus Christian girls last season when its basketball season was cut short after a four-point loss to St. Paul left the Eagles one win short of making the trip to Baker City for the 1A state tournament.

Damascus graduated just one starter from last year’s roster and appears ready to load the bus for a long road trip in March.

Leading the way is the backcourt combination of junior Val Wakefield and her younger sister Ana Wakefield — a sophomore. Also returning is junior Karissa Cox, along with seniors Lindi Burgeson and Damaris Luna.

“We are a deeper and better team — no doubt,” Damascus head coach Dave Wakefield said. “This lineup gives me a lot of flexibility, and anyone of these kids can step up and hit 12 to 15 points, easily.”

Added to the mix is freshman Hannah Forrar, who is expected to be a regular in the rotation in her first season, along with senior Cierra Warren who came out late after weighing club volleyball for the winter.

The Eagles are off to a 4-0 start with their closest wins coming against a pair of 3A opponents. Damascus also has a 48-34 road win over a Perrydale squad expected to be among 1A’s best on its early-season resume.

PORTLAND LUTHERAN BLUE JAYS

It was just a few years ago that Blue Jays’ coach John Roady routinely finished games without five players on the court. The roster was small, and subs weren’t an option.

This season, the Blue Jays have a roster stacked with enough talent that Roady expects his team to be playing in the Valley 10 bracket at the end of the year.

Directing the Lutheran attack is sophomore guard Danica Roady — the coaches’ daugher who has been playing since kindergarten. She earned all-league honors her rookie season and was the Blue Jay’s top scorer.

“She’s pretty aggressive and is a good ball handler,” John Roady said. “She’s fundamentally sound and knows how to find her spots on the court.”

The backcourt also includes sophomore Gabi Rush and juniors Lauren Lowrey and Ayde Alvarado, as the Blue Jays look to play at a fast pace.

Junior Kaitlin Howard, a middle blocker in volleyball, brings her 6-foot-2 frame to the paint. She set the school record for blocked shots last year.

“A lot of the size in our league graduated, so there really is no one dominant post player right now,” Roady said. “Kaitlin is someone who can change shots with her defensive presence down low.”

The Blue Jays are off to a 3-2 start, averaging better than 40 points per game.

OPEN DOOR HUSKIES

The Huskies slipped into the Valley 10 playoffs as the last qualifier in 2012, but hope to move up a few spots for a better tourney seed this season. Powering the team is sophomore guard Emily Sunderland, who put up 25 points in the team’s win earlier this week against Columbia Christian — last year’s Valley 10 tournament champion.

“She does well controlling the floor and running the offense,” Open Door coach Elaine Powers said.

Open Door’s biggest challenge appears to be depth with only six players listed on the roster — none of them seniors.

“We’re a young and scrappy team,” Powers said. “I feel like we have a chance at every loose ball. No one is afraid to go after anything.”

The Huskies have found early-season success going 3-1 so far with their only loss coming to 1A contender Damascus Christian.

CORBETT CARDINALS

The Cardinals finished in the middle of the Lewis & Clark pack last season with an 8-8 league record, but have hopes of climbing a rung or two on the ladder this season with 11 seniors on the roster.

Directing the attack is junior point guard Simone Ballard, who earned all-league honors last season.

“She has no fear. She doesn’t get intimidated,” Corbett coach Kari Schimel said. “We rely on her to attack the basket, and on defense, she is all over the place.”

The senior tandem of Madison Stevens and Sophia Raglione have supplied much of the scoring early this season, as Corbett is off to a 4-3 start.

“We struggled against zone defense last year, because we couldn’t find the basket,” Schimel said. “Those two girls are able to do that.”

Ingrid Schommer gives the team some size in the paint, while senior Christine Soulagnet is the Cardinal’s lock-down defender. Others expected to contribute include point guard Emma Peterson along with senior Maya Ballard and junior Taylor Peterson.

The Cardinals are also expected to get the return of Elizabeth Wynne over the holiday break after she missed the volleyball season while recovering from a knee injury.

“It will be challenging to find a rotation, to find minutes for everyone,” Schimel said. “We have a deep bench, but that also gives us more flexibility and the chance to game plan a little bit.”

Sports Editor David Ball can be reached at 503-492-5125 or by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .



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