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Basketball league play begins now

St. Helens and Scappoose records not bad amongst league preseason


The St. Helens Lions, Lady Lions, Scappoose Indians and Lady Indians all begin basketball league play within the next week.

Both St. Helens teams actually started league play this past week. The Lady Lions hosted Liberty, while St. Helens headed over Cornelius Pass to play at Liberty.

Scappoose still had some preseason work to do thisby: SELF-PORTRAIT - Sports Editor John Brewington week. The boys hosted a Canadian team making the rounds on Tuesday night. Both the boys and girls had games at home with Central on Friday.

There have been some bright spots and some not so dazzling moments for the teams in preseason, so it’s a little difficult to tell how good they will be in league play.

The biggest surprise no doubt has been the Lady Lions. It’s been a long, long time since the Lady Lions have had a winning record 10 games into the season. Being 6-4 is a momentous start for the squad. They started the season with a four-game win over Scappoose and then went on a four-game skid, but were really blown out against McMinnville.

It seemed to all start clicking for the team at the Benson Tournament. They started handling the ball and attacking the basket. They’ve won five straight and haven’t scored below 40 since their last loss. They key for them has to be senior point guard Jillian Ross. She’s done a superb job of directing the offense, and has been killing teams with her free-throw shooting at the end of games. She went six for six to ice one game and nine for 10 to finish off Benson.

Maybe even better news for St. Helens is that they are currently the second-highest ranked team in the Northwest Oregon Conference. The Lady Lions are one of only two teams in the conference with a winning record.

The current rankings have St. Helens at 21st, just one spot ahead of Liberty. Milwaukie (7-2) is ranked fifth, and an odds-on favorite to win the league. Behind them are: (preseason record and ranking) Liberty 2-8, 22nd; Parkrose, 3-5, 24th; Wilsonville, 3-6, 28th; Putnam, 2-7, 34th; Sherwood, 1-8, 35th; Sandy, 2-7, 37th.

There are a couple flies in the ointment, not really of St. Helens’ making. While, they’ve won games they’ve been against lower ranked teams. That’s why they aren’t ranked high. They are unlikely to move up much, either, even if they win most of their league contests. With the other teams ranked so low, it won’t up anyone’s winning percentage much if they win.

Still, Coach Billy McKinney has made believers out of his charges. They look much better. They had just four turnovers in a half the other night, something that would have been considered a miracle not so long ago. It looks like they know how to beat the press, and they have some shooters. No matter how they do or how far they go this year, they’ve improved more in the past few weeks than any other St. Helens girls basketball team has over the past decade.

The team should do well in league this year, but it remains to be seen how well they’ll do against stiffer competition. They’re riding a wave of confidence right now and that can take a squad a long ways. They’ve proved they can come back from a deficit and that’s something that hasn’t happened for the squad in a long time.

The St. Helens boys have also done well this season. They, too, have posted a 6-4 record and have shown a lot of hustle. They haven’t let adversity get them down. They are 3-3 in their last six games and all but one of those games have been decided by single digits. They beat Evergreen by three, lost to Skyview by three, Westview by five, beat Gresham by 11, lost by seven to Wilson and beat Aloha by three.

They are ranked 18th right now with three teams ahead of them and four behind. The Lions are poised to finish somewhere from fourth on up. Currently, Sandy (7-3) is ranked seventh, Wilsonville (8-2) ranked 9th, and Milwaukie (4-5) ranked 17th. Behind them are Sherwood (5-4) at 26th, Liberty (5-5) at 27th, Putnam (0-8) at 37th, and Parkrose (2-7) at 39th (last in the 5A ranks).

Both the Scappoose boys and girls have a way to go to prove themselves this season. The Tribe boys are 3-8 on the season and currently ranked last among league teams. Astoria at 11-2 has top honors right now in 6th. Seaside (7-6) is next at 26th, followed by Tillamook (3-6) 23rd, Banks (1-8) at 26th, and Yamhill-Carlton (4-6) at 30th. The Cowapa League is still pretty open and the Indians have some weapons. It’s a wait and see season for them.

The Scappoose girls (2-8) are also among the last teams. They are ahead of Tillamook (2-6) at 35th, and Yamhill-Carlton (2-8) at 36th. Astoria (4-8) is also fairly low at 29th. Banks (10-2, 7th) and Seaside (10-3, 14th) are the clear favorites this year.

The Tribe girls have had some ball control issues, and some problems scoring. If they get that fixed they could be a threat.

It still could be an interesting year for the local teams.