It’s all about beating the team next door: Projections and thoughts on the Tri-Valley Conference (boys)

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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:

Tri-Valley Conference

North Marion at their best may be the most complete team in the state. They move the ball with astounding fluidity and efficiency, run the floor better than anyone else in the state, play with ferocity on the defensive end that is often lost in modern basketball, and they play with loads of swagger.

At their low points, however, the ball sticks, they’re turnover prone, and seemingly lose the will to play basketball if it doesn’t go their way for any extended period of time. The peaks and valleys for this team are extreme, but if you end up playing them on one of their peaks…good luck.

Projection wise they’re hard to figure out. Half of the trouble in putting together top 10’s every Sunday, is where to put North Marion. Assuming they’re at their peak mentally, they’re number one, even above Marist. At their worst, they’re in the 8-10 range. 

If North Marion were subject to the day to day of the OWC, and had to play Philomath, Cascade, Sweet Home, or Woodburn every week, they’d likely not be in the top 10 at all because of the volatility in the level of their play. But they’re in the TVC, meaning in any given week they’ll play a Molalla, Madras or Estacada, and have a chance to get their ducks in a row before playing Gladstone.

North Marion arguably played the hardest non league schedule out of anyone in the state, having played four teams in our 4A top 10, as well as 3A power Salem Academy, Yamhill-Carlton, 2A regular Kennedy, and reigning 2A runner up Columbia Christian. The biggest thing the Huskies have to get over is their mental blocks. If they can do that, there’s no reason North Marion can’t win a state title. It’s felt like they’ve been knocking on the door ever since coach Tully Wagner got the head job, maybe this is the year they break through.

Gladstone is perplexing. Did they beat Banks on the road? Yes. Did they beat 5A Crescent Valley? Yes. But did they lose at home to Stayton by 13? Yes. Did they only beat Valley Catholic by 3? Yes, but considering it was the first game of the season, don’t read too much into it. Gladstone passes the eye test as a legitimate playoff team. Their lows are higher than North Marion, but their highs aren’t nearly as high as the huskies’. 

Gladstone plays basketball similarly to how they play football: physical and with grit. The problem is, it’s a lot easier to beat a power team with finesse in basketball than it is in football. Gladstone needs to advance offensively and defensively from the perimeter. With the right mix of circumstances, Gladstone could beat North Marion more than once and claim the league title, get an automatic first round home game and get themselves an easier path to the state tournament, we’re just not betting on it as of right now.

This league is one of the easier ones to project across the state, and doesn’t require much explaining. Expect North Marion and Gladstone to come out of this league with automatic spots. Corbett or Madras could theoretically sneak a play-in spot with the right circumstances and good luck with their RPI, but it is an outside chance we won’t bet on.

Projected Final Standings:

  1. North Marion (10-0)**
  2. Gladstone (8-2)**
  3. Corbett (6-4)
  4. Madras (4-6)
  5. Estacada (1-9)
  6. Molalla (1-9)

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