The Vikings will be led by head coach Brandon Kishpaugh, who is returning yet again after his second one-year hiatus

PIONEER PHOTO: CONNER WILLIAMS - Colton senior Evan Rasor (3) drives to the basket during the Vikings' 46-34 win over Pleasant Hill at the Regis Holiday Tournament last season. Rasor will again be a key component for the Viks this season. 
Head coach: Brandon Kishpaugh, first season (sixth after two one-year hiatuses)

2016-2017 record: 15-9 overall, 7-5 league; PacWest Conference third place

Three-year record: 56-24, 27-9

Final OSAA power ranking: 15

Last playoff appearance: 2016-2017, lost to Amity 63-69 in the first round

Seniors lost: 4 – Sam Ryan, Logan Wallaert, Cameron Davis, and Noah Jennings

Key returners: Seniors Evan Rasor, Dawson Hall, Seth Bruesch, and Kreygan Raasch; juniors James Parker, Chance Ritchie, Javontae Maes

Season outlook: The Vikings are coming off of a strong performance in a league dominated by Salem powerhouses Blanchet Catholic and Salem Academy as they took third place in the PacWest Conference and earned another playoff berth.

Colton will miss the leadership of senior All-League stars Logan Wallaert, Sam Ryan, and Cameron Davis, but return a solid number of key players from last season, including seniors Evan Rasor and Dawson Hall, the former of which head coach Brandon Kishpaugh said should've been an All-League selection. Junior James Parker will be expected to contribute again after giving a solid amount of minutes last season, along with senior Seth Bruesch and junior Javontae Maes.

"Maes is just beginning to realize his potential; his is long, rangy and sneaky athletic, and when he wants to he can do a lot on the court," Kishpaugh said. "It will be up to me to make sure he stays aggressive and engaged and doesn't just defer to his teammates."

Kishpaugh also said he expects some good things from senior Kreygan Raasch, the younger brother of 3A all-star Kyver Raasch.

"He put in arguably the most work during the summer and fall, and it is really beginning to pay off as he is becoming more confident with the ball in his hands and more active defensively," Kishpaugh said.

Junior Chance Ritchie, who is coming off of a First Team All-League football season as a defensive lineman, will be expected to "help us on the glass and do the dirty work," according to Kishpaugh, but that Ritchie will also be able to step out and shoot and use his athleticism to make things happen on offense.

Sophomore Wyatt Earls, who showcased his pure athleticism this football season as well, will be an asset on defense and be able to put in some points in transition with his speed.

Kishpaugh said they need to work on team defense, rebounding, ball control, and ball movement.

"We have a lot of guys that are really quick and athletic, but it will be important that we learn to play defense as a unit and help each other out, and offensively, we have quite a few guys that can shoot and attack from the perimeter," he said. "But we have to focus on not over-dribbling and using our abilities to create [situations] to help each other, rather than doing it solo."

Kispaugh noted that "anytime you graduate over ten guys over two years and seven All-League winners, there is going to be a little concern over whether the new guys are going to be able to fill those shoes." He said the Viks will have to work to keep their physicality up and make sure teams get one or less shot per possession, and stay out of foul trouble.

"Much like last year, I think a lot of people are expecting us to take a big step back after a really good year, and with all the talent that has graduated the last two years I understand why, but I don't think people truly understand how committed the kids at Colton are to getting better," Kishpaugh said. "We may not have the number of big time players we've had the last couple of years, but we have really hard-working kids who have gotten much better over the last few years, and are going to be able to go out and compete every single night, and hopefully surprise a lot of people that may have overlooked us."

First game: The Viks will host Portland Christian on Wednesday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 p.m.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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