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Basketball season begins this week

Local teams have some good prospects


Except for a couple of football playoff games, fall sports have pretty much ended.

Scappoose fans should note that Baker, the team that knocked them out of the playoffs, is playing North Bend for the 4A state championship on Saturday. That game is at 1 p.m. in Hillsboro Stadium. That evening, Sherwood of the Northwest Oregon Conference will play Marist for the 5A title.

It was a good season. One team brought home a fourth-place trophy (Scappoose girls cross country) and the Scappoose girls soccer team tied for third in the state. Not sure if they get a trophy, but there are others for semifinalists in the trophy case. Other teams made it to state, but bowed out in the first or second rounds (Scappoose and St. Helens volleyball, and Scappoose football). There were also play-in games.by: SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington

Of the different systems used in the 4A and 5A ranks, I have to think I like the 4A system better. It just seems fairer and gives the league more meaning. Under the 5A system you can finish high in your league and still have a road game. It’s also possible to finish in the top three and not make the playoffs. In the 4A, teams have a pretty good idea what they need to do and the games are more meaningful.

Interesting to note that in 4A girls soccer, the top four teams in the rankings were also the ones making the semifinals. It was the same four everyone thought would be there to begin with. That’s unusual.

Now it’s time for the start of winter sports.

Basketball gets under way this week with the Scappoose boys hosting St. Helens on Wednesday night. The Scappoose girls are at St. Helens on Thursday.

I like the idea of the two schools playing. They are natural rivals, crowds are usually pretty good no matter what the sport, and it’s the shortest road trip either will have all season. The two schools are not that far apart in enrollment. Much closer than St. Helens is to Sherwood and most 5A schools. St. Helens is 500 students below the top 5A schools, while Scappoose is just over 100 below the second-highest 4A school. They are less than 300 students apart. According to 2011-12 ADM figures. The Lions are even closer now, down to a bit over 900 students. The two schools may find themselves playing in the same league again in less than two years.

Last year the teams also played on Wednesday and Thursday nights to packed gyms. Student attendance was good at both and the two student bodies behaved themselves very well.

Scappoose won both games. The Tribe boys beat the Lions 70-52, while the Tribe girls won in a closer contest, 54-43.

The Lions would go on to have a better season under new Coach Jerry Allen, while the Indians also had a good year, making it to the state playoffs under first-year head Coach Rahim Tufts. The Scappoose girls also ended up in a league playoff. The Tribe girls have a new coach this season, while the Lady Lions’ Billy McKinney is now in his second year.

All of the programs are getting better from what we can see. The new coaches have worked with at least a few of their players in the off-season and the teams are all improving.

It’s often a numbers game. The more students a school has usually means they have more athletes out and find more elite players. St. Helens is in the unenviable position of having to play some of the best teams in the state. Milwaukie of the NWOC was second in the 5A state playoffs last season.

Scappoose didn’t have an overpowering player at the post position last year and in fact were pretty small for a basketball team. They did the best they could and were a lot of fun to watch. If I remember correctly they had 17 threes in one game. That’s tough to beat.

The girls’ programs also appear to be improving. McKinney didn't get back everyone that could have helped this season, but he's spending a lot of time working with the players and the youth programs. He says it's a four-year plan to build it back to its glory days and it will get better. Success does breed success as they say.

It looks like it will be a good year to watch the teams. Will any of them win a state title? It seems a long-shot, but who really knows. Will they upset some teams? There will be some. Will the teams improve this season? Not a doubt.

So get out and watch them. It's a nice diversion from watching television. I also think it's a lot cheaper and much more fun than watching pro sports.