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Preseason means more these days


Season begins not with league, but with first game

Winter doesn’t officially begin for another week, despite what one local weatherman suggested the other day. I’m pretty sure winter solstice is on Dec. 21.

The days will start getting longer and local sports will soon begin their league schedules. For a few more weeks, though, it’s preseason time. A time to see where your team is at, try some new things, and improve to get ready for league.by: SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington

Basketball league play used to be everything for everyone. Now the 5A class, where St. Helens is uses Oregon School Activities rankings to determine which teams make the playoffs. Teams have to be ranked in the top 24 (with some exceptions) to make the playoffs. That means preseason counts so losing some games can be devastating to your chances. It’s possible to do well in league and still get a lousy seed into the playoffs.

Scappoose is in the 4A classification. It pays more attention to league finishes. League champions automatically get into the state playoffs, and the highest rank team outside of the league champions also qualifies. The remaining teams are placed by finishing second or third, and by ranking into the play-in rounds. Rankings determine who has home games for the second playoff round, and then the top eight head to the state tournament. Rankings still matter for 4A, but not quite as much as the 5A ranks.

It’s quite different for wrestling and swimming. There are no power rankings in wrestling, and state berths are determined by finishes in district and (in 4A) regional play. The 5A Northwest Oregon Conference with eight teams considers their district a regional as well. What swimmers go to state is pretty much determined by their finish in district competition, or in some cases by meeting a qualifying time.

Where are the local teams at thus far. It’s a mixed bag. The St. Helens Lions are 3-1, but haven’t played enough high calibre basketball teams for it to show in the rankings yet. That could change if they do well over the next two weeks. Scappoose is still missing some players that should help when they return.

The Lady Indians and Lady Lions have struggled to start the season and they should get better as the season goes on. They’ll both have to prove they are playoff calibre teams.

The Scappoose wrestling team surprises even coach Jim Jones. They are very strong. He said they had a good tournament over the weekend, but results hadn’t been sent by the hosting coach by press time. They had a good district last year, but faltered a bit in regionals. It doesn’t look like anyone is going to sneak up on them this year. They are supposed to wrestle St. Helens this coming Tuesday, but there were some scheduling issues.

St. Helens has a new wrestling coach and is a bit undermanned this year. They have some prospects, but it remains to be seen how they will do at district.

The Scappoose swimming team has some good new young swimmers, but is missing most of those girls that helped them win district and do well at state last season. Their best male swimmer also graduated.

St. Helens appears loaded in the early going. The have some very good swimmers, but are in a league that has some of the state’s best—club swimmers that train year round. St. Helens will do well in their dual matches, but qualifying for state will not be easy. Still they looked pretty good last Friday. They took a team first, and a team second at Scappoose’s River City Invitational. The boys handily won, while the girls were only in second by six points.

It will be fun to watch all the teams progress this season. Some have a chance to be really good, and others have a chance to show improvement.