At this point, it's difficult to predict the future of Lions girls' basketball.
Juniors Myranda Northrop, Morgan Bingaman and Quinlynn Coddington, sophomores Kaela Lee and McKayla Foster and freshman Madisyn Flores turned in their St. Helens uniforms with complaints of verbal abuse from fifth-year coach Billy McKinney immediately after St. Helens' 71-31 home loss to South Albany on Friday, Feb. 10.
"We were tired of getting told we have bad attitudes and that we don't respect him, when he's someone we looked up to because we thought he believed in us as young adults and as players," Northrop said. "I was tired of being told that I don't have what it takes one day, and then the next that I could go D-1. I wanted to be told what I needed to work on and have support from my coach, but he just continued to say we should be ashamed of how we play and that we should hang up our uniforms. We were tired of being put down by someone who is supposed to lift you up and teach you how to become a better player."
The Lions are 28-110-11 overall and 11-73 in Northwest Oregon Conference play since McKinney was hired in the summer of 2011.
"He told us we lose from all our 'bad attitudes,'" Foster said. "We got tired of how he told everyone we disrespected him and how he coached when we all put a smile on our face to hide the pain he caused. We said we were okay with the lies he told and okay with the way he was bringing the team down. A coach should never tell their team they should be ashamed of how they are playing: They should lift up their spirits and tell them they can play better."
The six are currently banned from practices, as is assistant coach Tina Wells.
"We are currently investigating the circumstances," St. Helens athletic director Matt Morgan said. "Starting [Tuesday, Feb. 14], we will be playing varsity only for the remainder of the season."
McKinney did not return a request for comment on this story.
In the meantime, the Lions (3-17, 0-11) fell 69-20 to Milwaukie (6-13, 3-8) in a season sweep at home on Tuesday.
St. Helens is scheduled to play at Sandy (12-8, 5-6) at 5:45 p.m. on Friday.
St. Helens boys will head to Sandy
The Lions (5-15, 2-9 Northwest Oregon) are scheduled to play at Sandy (12-9, 5-6) at 7:15 p.m. on Friday
Matt Anderson's buzzer-beating lay-in lifted St. Helens to a 73-71 win and a season sweep of visiting Milwaukie (1-19, 0-11) on Tuesday, their first sweep of the Mustangs since Milwaukie came down from Class 6A eight years ago.
Nick Ramos fired a long triple from the left shoulder as the clock ran down with a 71-71 tie, the rebound fell to Anderson at the left block and the 6-foot-3 senior forward flipped it up and in as time expired.
"I expected Nick to make that shot," Anderson said.
St. Helens trailed 49-40 with two minutes left in the third quarter, but Joe Rea's twin 3-pointers helped cut the lead to 54-51 into the fourth.
Nick Ramos' 3 from the left shoulder gave the Lions a 61-60 lead with 4:15 left in the game, and his next 3 pushed the score to 64-61 at 2:45.
Ramos was fouled behind the arc and sank three free throws to push the edge to 67-61 at 2:17, and he made one of his next two to put the Lions up 68-63 with 1:16.
Drake Dow made two free throws and one of two the next time he was fouled for a 71-66 lead with 32.8 seconds left, but Mustangs senior Franklin Williams was fouled driving into the lane and tied the count at 71-71 with 11.5 seconds left.
"I loved the energy," St. Helens coach Jordan Massinger said. "It seemed like the whole building was filled up with energy and enthusiasm: That was something that hasn't been here a lot this season, so I thought from a fan standpoint it was great ... I've been telling my guys all season that they need to bring energy, effort and enthusiasm every game, so I was happy to see that last night. The game-winning shot at the buzzer from the hardest worker a coach could ever ask for was just the icing on the cake."
Dow, Ramos, Jacob Falk and Rea led with 14, 13, 12 and 11 respective points.
"It was awesome," said Dow, a junior guard. "We really came together as a team and pulled out the win."
Scappoose boys, girls completed regular season against Astoria on Thursday
The Indians boys (6-13, 1-8 Cowapa League) came into their home finale against the Fishermen (10-12, 1-8), the results of which were unavailable at press time, confident after upsetting No. 8 Banks 63-52 on the road on Friday, Feb. 10, and falling 55-32 at second-ranked Valley Catholic on Tuesday in Beaverton.
The girls (2-17, 1-8) also hosted Astoria (7-15, 3-6) on Thursday.
In the meantime, they fell 59-23 at second-ranked Banks on Friday, Feb. 10, and 53-14 at 10th-ranked Valley Catholic on Tuesday in Beaverton.
CORRECTION: Friday, Feb. 16's paper edition of this story misidentified St. Helens High sophomore Madisyn Flores' year in school. The Spotlight regrets the error.