Athlete Profile: Cody Southerland

by: PHIL HAWKINS - St. Paul graduate Cody Southerland was selected to the summer 1AOBCA All-Star series, which competed in Sisters on Friday and Saturday. Southerlands team of players from the Casco and Mountain West leagues won both games over the weekend to claim the tournament championship.Basketball season for the St. Paul boys team wrapped up in February, but one member of the Buckaroos got the chance to suit up one final time at the high school level over the weekend.

Recently graduated senior Cody Southerland laced up his sneakers on Friday and Saturday, playing in a pair of games at the 1A OBCA All-Star series in Sisters.

The annual summer all-star basketball tournament features senior players from Oregon’s 1A programs. Southerland was chosen to represent the Buckaroos after finishing his career at St. Paul as a Second Team selection in the Casco League this season.

“I’ve never been a part of (an all-star team),” Southerland said. “It was a lot of fun.”

Southerland was voted to one of four all-star teams by a panel of 1A coaches. He joined former rivals from the Casco League, as well as all-stars from the Mountain West League, to take on players from Oregon’s other six 1A conferences.

“It was a lot of fun playing with guys that are as good as you if not better,” Southerland said. “It was just a great atmosphere.”

St. Paul boys coach Vince Drago made the trip to Sisters Saturday to watch Southerland play in the championship game after Southerland’s team beat the all-stars from the High Desert and Old Oregon leagues Friday evening.

by: SETH GORDON - Southerland defends Matt Martin of C.S. Lewis Academy in December. The two played against each other as rivals during the regular season, but were teammates at the 1A OBCA All-Star series last week“It’s a neat experience,” St. Paul boys coach Vince Drago said. “It’s the last time a lot of those kids will play organized hoops.”

The Casco-Mountain West all-stars went on to win Saturday night, thanks in part to a stellar game from Southerland in the tournament finale.

“He shot the ball well, he defended well, he rebounded well,” Drago said. “I didn’t get a stat sheet on him at the end of the game, but he had somewhere around 20 points. If there had been a game ball for that game, there would be no question he would have got it.”

Southerland credited his performance to playing with best athletes in the state at the 1A level.

“I’ve always been a person who plays with the talent around me, so playing with them just helped me personally, and I kind of shined because of it,” he said. “It’s a lot easier to play with good people around you.”

Southerland’s selection to the team caps a three-year career with the St. Paul varsity team. After operating as the team’s primary ball-handler for his sophomore and junior years, Southerland made the switch to off-ball guard this season to help the Buckaroos spread the offense more.

“This last year, he was our best player, and if the ball is in the hand of your best player, the defense knows who the best player is and where the ball is,” said Drago. “If you don’t have them together, then they have to watch one — the ball, and two — the best player. So it splits where their attention is.”

The switch allowed the Bucks to better utilize Southerland’s skills around the court, letting him play on the wing and in the post, while still giving him stints as point guard.

by: PHIL HAWKINS - Southerland earned Second Team all-conference honors in the Casco League his senior season.“We moved him around a bunch, and we still wanted to have the ball in his hands, but didn’t want to have to start with it, because you can’t pass it to yourself,” Drago said. “We just used him in as many places as we could. I think he adapted real well.”

He ended up being the Buckaroos’ lone representative in all-league voting after the team finished 9-13 overall and 6-8 in conference to place fifth in the final Casco League standings. Southerland was excited to represent St. Paul one last time Saturday, knowing it was his final organized game at the high school level.

“It was definitely bittersweet,” he said. “It was emotional, but at the same time, it was all about having fun at the last game.”

Now that he has graduated, Southerland plans to attend Oregon State University and study physical therapy. Southerland said he has always had an interest in the human body, and his frequent trips to the doctor for sports-related injuries allowed him to see the profession from the point of view of an athlete.

“I always got hurt in my life, so I was always around doctors, and I found it really interesting,” Southerland said. “I always wanted to be involved around people in athletics, so that’s another way to be involved in it.”

Although he’ll play some pick-up games around the gym, Southerland expects to be finished with organized basketball and will always remember his time with the Buckaroos fondly.

“Playing at St. Paul was a great atmosphere,” he said. “It’s a small town and everyone’s behind you. I had a lot of fun, it was definitely the best time of my life.”

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