Boys Basketball Preview: North Valley

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Tri-Valley Conference

One senior-heavy team exits, one senior-heavy team enters. There’s some certainty of who will end up at the top of the TVC, but below that it could get tricky. Here’s what we have:

  • Gladstone is going to be a trendy pick to win it all and for good reason. Jeremy DeVoe, Jude Ashpole, Brandon Wanlass, and Thomas Tacha all received All-League honors last season as juniors, and all return this year for one last campaign. Ashpole, co-player of the year in the TVC, could end up on State Player of the Year watchlists. With the dismemberment of the North Marion Huskies and the state of 4A basketball, Gladstone has a very real shot to make Championship Saturday.
  • North Marion is going to have some growing pains this year. The Huskies lose their four All-League players (David and Johnny Page, Brady Hansen, and Sergio Jimenez) and don’t seem to have a large pool of seniors coming up to replace them. The Huskies have two things going for them: Tanner Saucedo returns and their upcoming junior class is huge. There will probably be a feeling out process early, but by the end of the regular season they could be hitting their stride.
  • The competition for third is fascinating. Returning All-League talent, returning upperclassmen, etc. is fairly uniform: Joe Fundlak returns to Corbett, Dominic Nacoste returns to Estacada, and Derek Main returns to Madras. There could be a play-in team at the #3 spot in the TVC; we just aren’t sure which one it will be.

Tri-Valley Conference Projected Final Standings (Bold – Playoff Berth)

  1. Gladstone
  2. North Marion
  3. Corbett/Estacada/Madras
  4. Corbett/Estacada/Madras
  5. Corbett/Estacada/Madras
  6. Molalla

PacWest Conference

There will be three PacWest teams going into the playoffs; that’s virtually guaranteed. What isn’t yet decided, and what could be much more of an entertaining thing to track, is whether all three end up with home games, and whether all three make Coos Bay. The odds of the latter are in our view better than 50/50. Here’s what we see:

  • We wrote a piece last season after Dayton nearly lost to YC at home, this is a short bit of what we said: YC is no longer taking baby steps; they’re running. That should scare the hell out of the rest of the state. Rebuilds happen generally in 6(ish) stages for doormat programs: 1 – Learn how to get back up and fight on after getting blown out, 2 – Learn how to not get blown out, and be competitive consistently, 3 – Learn how to win close games against middle of the pack teams, 4 – Learn how to beat middle of the pack teams handily, 5 – Learn how to compete with top tier teams, 6 – Learn how to beat top tier teams. It should scare the hell out of people that Heather Roberts has taken YC from steps 1 to 6 in less than a year”. It’s YC’s time to shine. They benefit from a year more of maturity for the Seely-Roberts twins, a full schedule of games in Idaho during the downtime of season one, and a year more of growth for the roster at large that only loses one senior. It’s fair to say YC is one of the teams we’re most excited to watch. A Coos Bay appearance should certainly be in the fold. 
  • The huge unknown in the PacWest is Amity. The best way to describe the Warriors last season, as cliche as it might be, is ‘consistently inconsistent’. Getting a beat on Amity was nearly impossible seemingly all season. Emblematic of this was their two week stretch from the league tournament to Friday at Coos Bay. They blew the doors off Blanchet on the road, then got blown out by rival, and the team only ranked two spots ahead of the Warriors, Dayton. They recovered and beat YC in the league 3rd place game and had their best game of the season against Nyssa only to get blown out in the first round at Coos Bay five days later. With that said, the Warriors are one of the most senior heavy teams in 3A, and with the returning All-State talents of Josh Wart and Keenan Graham, surrounded by Landen Distler, Isaac Watcherson, Logan Grove, and George Hatch, the ceiling for Amity is certainly at a championship level. The question, as it’s been for the better part of a decade now: will they reach it? 
  • Dayton’s situation is quite simple: Ron Hopp returns and talent returns, so Dayton probably returns to Coos. At this point it’s clockwork and a mere formality with the Pirates, right? Tyler Spink, Kaden Fergus, Justin Morales, and Dawson Ashley all return, as well as up-and-comers Benji Hudson and Lucas Ashley. The departures of Jacob Morales and Payton Garrison will leave their marks in different ways, as Morales was a dominating force in the paint and Garrison was a force in his own right on the perimeter, but with what’s returning there shouldn’t be a significant regression. Perhaps there will be growing pains, but there’s nothing to suggest Dayton won’t end up back in the top-5 come playoffs.

The PacWest is deep, even with the departure of Salem Academy, which can make it hard to put together projections. Within that depth, it can’t be understated how much of a pivot point Amity is and just how much of a hold they have on the race within the PacWest and the state at large. We’re going to project them as though they will click, that Josh Wart, Keenan Graham, and crew are able to recover from last year and grow into their potential. We’re projecting that Amity hits or gets close to their ceiling.

PacWest Conference Projected Final Standings (Bold – Playoff Berth)

  1. Amity
  2. Yamhill-Carlton
  3. Dayton
  4. Blanchet
  5. Scio

Tri-River Conference 

There are returners in some places and none in others; there are similar faces at the top, similar faces at the bottom, and one new face thrown in the mix. Here’s what we see:

  • Salem Academy is an interesting addition to a top-heavy TRC. The returning pair of John Bennett and Bennett Bos could be enough for the Crusaders to compete with the likes of Western, Santiam, and Kennedy. They may not win the TVC, but an appearance in the playoffs should happen. SA’s coaching staff was one of the best in 3A last year, so the transition to 2A shouldn’t be terribly bumpy. 
  • Kennedy returns the most contributors in the TVC. The Kleinschmidts, Brady Traeger, Riley Cantu, and the large pool of other returners should be able to pick up right where last year’s Trojans left off. Only graduating three seniors off the 2019-20 squad, the Trojans are a bona fide preseason top-10 team.
  • Western is an unknown of sorts. We’re big fans of Tyran Vanderhoof but aren’t really sure what else there is to replace the likes of Payton Richardson, Alex Nicoli, and big man Ethan Halgren. It’s very easy to come to the conclusion that there isn’t anyone that can completely replace them, Richardson and Nicoli alone are two of the best players to ever come out of the Barn, so filling their shoes is going to be one of the bigger stories in 2A. If nothing else, the presence of Gary Hull on the Pioneer bench will keep them in the Pendleton Picture. 

Tri-Valley Conference Projected Final Standings (Bold – Playoff Berth)

  1. Kennedy
  2. Western Christian
  3. Salem Academy
  4. Santiam
  5. Culver
  6. Sheridan
  7. Delphian
  8. Gervais
  9. Colton
  10. Chemawa

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