Determining who fits in where in the grand scope of things if difficult right now. Common opponents are all over the place, and we’ve seen every team in our top 10 in person, but putting them into a top 10 is difficult. Figuring out where they stand in their own respective leagues, however, is not. Let’s go league by league, starting with the one responsible for the last three state champions:
Stop me if this sounds familiar: Banks, Seaside, and everybody else…kind of. Seaside and Banks will likely be the two playoff teams from this league.
Banks has grown immensely since going 0-2 at the Western Christian tournament to open the season. Since their 0-3 start (loss to Gladstone), they’re 8-2 and have wins over top ten, or at least in the discussion to be in the top 10, teams like Stayton, Philomath, Woodburn, and Marist. Taking down 5A schools Dallas (4-6) and Hillsboro (5-5) aren’t a bad touch, though neither have a winning record as of right now. They look like Banks should look, in most aspects. Are they as good as last year? Likely no, but they show flashes of being near that level, especially recently.
Slifka, Evans, and Buliga are as good a trio as anyone else in the state. All can shoot, all can play D, and all have been there before. The Braves’ biggest assets are their experience, basketball IQ, and coaching. But, an acute lack of jump-out-of-the-gym athleticism and depth in the post are still glaringly obvious. Tyler Exline coming back should alleviate part of the post problem, but jumping in mid season, who knows what will happen there. Banks is a legitimate top 3 team in the state at their best, so there’s no reason for them not to be favored to win league.
Seaside is a relative unknown, even though league play is starting. Of the teams in the state that have shown clear regression, Seaside is the most noteworthy. All their losses are to top 5 teams plus a 3A powerhouse (Dayton), and they’ve beat all the teams they should beat. By all accounts Seaside is doing exactly what they should be doing, but something feels like it’s missing. Part of this is due to the standard of basketball that Seaside has brought us to expect the last 4 years. Seaside has made good and great teams look silly the last few years. Bill Westerholm has quickly become a legend, four straight championship game appearances, Seaside has become the focus point of 4A basketball…it’s left us spoiled in a way. ‘Regression’ to Seaside is an entirely different thing than it is to 95% of the other schools in the state. Seaside even showing a little weakness is shocking and sticks out like a sore thumb compared to anyone else, simply because it’s Seaside.
Is Seaside bad? No, far from it. Are they the unstoppable force from the last four years? No. The Gulls are a top tier basketball team in the state, they just might be the Utah Jazz instead of the LA Lakers. Fun to watch, well coached, can beat anybody anywhere when they’re at their best, but they’re nobody’s first pick to win it all.
The one wildcard that everyone needs to watchout for is Valley Catholic. Don’t write them off because of their 3-9 record. VC is allowing the least amount of points per game in the league at 48.6 per game, and has kept it tight against teams like Gladstone (Lost by 3), 5A West Albany (10), Stayton (10), 3A Yamhill Carlton (8), Woodburn (2), and Cascade (3). They’re lengthy, can switch 1 through 5 on the defensive end, and can grind for a full 32 minutes. They’re a bit turnover prone, and had to make up for a lack of varsity experience coming into the year, but VC can compete with anybody. If it hadn’t been for a 16-4 differential in points off turnovers in Cascade’s favor, VC would’ve beat the Cougars. Don’t be surprised if they nab an automatic spot in the playoffs, but for right now we’ll project them as a play-in team.
Projected Final standings:
- Banks (7-1)**
- Seaside (6-2)**
- Valley Catholic (5-3)*
- Tillamook (2-6)
- Astoria (0-8)
** – Automatic bid into state playoffs
* – Play-in spot