The Colton Vikings boys basketball team finished the season fifth in the West Valley League, 6-8 in league and 11-14 overall. Though the team didn’t make it past the first round of playoffs, they did achieve their season goals.

The season in review

Coach Brandon Kishpaugh: “Having had about a week to sit back and reflect on our season has allowed me to get a pretty clear (unemotional) take on how it went. Before the season began we sat down as a team and identified our overall goal, and it was clear we wanted to make the league playoffs and host a playoff game. Essentially this meant that we needed to finish in the top five of our league.

“Our season started off very well, getting off to a 5-1 start and big wins against Estacada and Molalla, which I was later informed was the first time in the history of Colton basketball that we had beat both in the same year. Following those wins we hit a rough patch, losing four straight, which in years past would have meant disaster, but this year’s team never stopped working and approached each game as a chance to get closer to their goal (a home playoff game).

“Entering league we were 5-5, which was a little disappointing considering how well we had started, but that disappointment disappeared when we reeled off three straight league wins with a huge home win against Westside Christian, which was, in retrospect, probably our most complete game we played all season; we battled defensively, had a number of guys step up and hit big shots.

“We finished the first half of the league schedule at 4-3 and held the tie breaker to put us in fourth place. The second half of league did not go quite as well, as we finished 3-4 and lost a low scoring battle against Westside Christian. However there were some very exciting games along the way. Like I said, [we] lost a low-scoring evenly matched game with Westside. We scrapped out a one point victory over Sheridan at home, with Anthony Basargin hitting the game winning shot with less than three seconds remaining.

“When the league schedule concluded we had reached our goal and earned a home playoff game, finishing fifth and only one game back of fourth place. Having earned that home playoff game, my hopes were high for us to get the opening-round victory, however, following one player deciding to leave the team late in the year for personal reasons, and Rhedyn Stanczyk requiring surgery, we were without two of our seniors, which severely cut into our bench.

“Our young guys stepped up big and at times in the playoff game against Sheridan we had three sophomores, one junior and a freshman on the floor and played with them bucket for bucket and at one point went on a 10-0 run. In the end, our lack of depth and experience took its toll and Sheridan got the win 52-47, ending our season, which was disappointing considering we had beaten them the previous two matchups.

“We did reach our goal though, and with the amount of underclassmen we had playing at the end of the season, our future is very bright, and they all gained valuable big-game experience."

Kishpaugh’s original freshman turned big guns

Kishpaugh: “All three of the seniors that finished the season will be difficult to replace as they all brought valuable assets to the team. Rhedyn was a tremendous on-ball defender, and his ability to pressure opposing guards, as well as get out on the fast break, will be severely missed.

“Drexler Hall was our primary ball handler for much of the year. His ability to get us into our offense, handle pressure, and a crazy knack to hit a big shot when we needed [it] most will be tough to replace.

“Dane Norton will be our toughest player to replace. Despite only being maybe 6 foot 2 inches, he was an amazing rebounder and finished the season averaging over 10 boards a game. In addition to rebounding, he was a strong inside defender and got a number of offensive put backs just by being the hardest worker on the floor. Right now we don’t have anyone that fills that void, but we have some young guys that, given an off season of hard work, hopefully can try and fill his shoes.

“All three will be greatly missed as they were my first group of freshman when I took over here at Colton, and they have been instrumental in changing the culture here and making this one of the brightest up-and-coming 3A teams in the state in my opinion."

Changing the culture

Kishpaugh: “When I took over this job it seemed that all the kids would look to one guy to carry the load offensively, and I had to tell them at this level it cannot be one on five; we need everyone to be able to fill a roll on offense, whether that’s shooting, attacking the defense off the dribble, running the fast break, or crashing the boards. Well this year I think we finally started to really establish that, and we had a number of guys have good seasons.

“First and foremost, Anthony Basargin took the step from being a streaky freshman to being the guy other teams game plan against, and despite that he had a number of huge nights even while being face guarder or denied the ball. He was one of only two sophomores to earn 1st team All League, and I look for him to step up even more next year with an off-season of work.

“As I said before, Dane Norton was just a tireless worker who had a number of big games earning him Honorable Mention All League, Rhedyn Stanczyk really made a big leap from his junior season and was our leading scorer a number of games and led our team in steals. Harper James was our first guy off the bench much of the season, and his ability to knock down shots and make smart plays was key in a number of wins this season (I look for big things from him next year as our lone senior).

“Probably the biggest transformation for us this year came from Kyver Raasch, who worked all off season to get better. As a freshman, he saw inconsistent playing time and seldom really made a big impact, however, this season he made huge strides, and in our games where we were at our best Kyver was the reason. His length and touch around the rim is something that we haven’t had at Colton since I got here. He played his best games late in the year, and I look for him to improve on his Honorable Mention All League honors this season."

More changes on the horizon

Kishpaugh: “Next season, with us switching leagues, makes it a little more difficult to judge how we will do, but our expectations will be high. I have talked to some of our guys about it already, and we want to make the state playoffs and once again host a playoff game.

“We will be returning all but three players, so we have a ton of experience coming back, and not only experience but a lot of talent and guys that are hungry to get even better. Beyond the guys I mentioned before who are returning, I have extremely high expectations for Cameron Davis, who as a freshman played a key role off the bench for us in a number of big games. His skill set is very unique, as he is probably our best passer, can knock down outside shots, and can make tough shots around the rim.

“Malik Knott is without question one of the best athletes in the state at the 3A level, being 5 foot 8 inches and having the ability to dunk and finishing fourth at the state tournament in the long jump last year as freshman. I look for him to bring that athleticism to basketball and have plenty of wow moments next season. We have a couple other younger guys that, if they put in the work, next year could make an impact. They are Dustin Jones (younger brother of All Leaguer Jerod Jones), Sam Ryan, Garrett Collins and Logan Wallaert. The guys are already chomping at the bit, and we started off season conditioning and weight lifting on Monday at 6 a.m. They cannot wait to get back to show everyone what they will be capable of next year—future is very bright!”

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