Why not? Why not throw a massive monkey wrench into this final week of the regular season? Why not send the Sky-Em League into utter chaos 3 days before the final selection meeting? Siuslaw, you never cease to amaze.
Here are some takeaways and then some statewide implications. First, let’s talk about Siuslaw:
- We knew they had this in them. We talked during preseason about how the Vikings could play spoiler in the Sky-Em and possibly could be a Forest Grove team given they have a favorable first-round matchup. Siuslaw could be the best team in multiple leagues if aligned differently, but they just so happen to be in a league filled with three separate state-powers. In a normal year, their outside shooting prowess could take them places, but that’s not the situation in which they find themselves, and now they won’t get the chance. Tonight, however, they gave us a glimpse. Tonight, the Vikings did exactly what we thought they were capable of: they set fire to the power structure of the Sky-Em in one fell swoop.
- Brayden Thornton is a star. He didn’t score a ton tonight, only eight points, but the penetrative ability and vision he displayed led to multiple open three-point attempts and subsequently multiple three-point makes which ultimately put the Vikings over the top. Brody Terry often was at the receiving end of those passes and cashed in 28 points, including four three-pointers. Isaac Mattson had 16 points with three three-pointers, and Liam McClellan had 10 with two. Siuslaw played a complete game in large part because of Thornton’s efforts.
- This is a balanced team. There was nothing Junction City threw at them they weren’t prepared for, and given a longer runway and more normal season, they could have been a serious force to be reckoned with. It’s a shame their season will end this week.
Now for Junction City:
- A pessimist would say this: you gave up so wide open looks to Siuslaw that at one point they were shooting 88% from behind the arc. An optimist would say: they shot 88% from behind the arc at one point; you’ll never see that again. Both perspectives have merit, but we’d lean towards the optimistic side. This is what Siuslaw is: a team who the first time you faced them might be having an average or even cold shooting night and you can glide to a comfortable victory, but the second time you play them, when they figure out your pace and your spacing and find their shooting stroke, they can send you home packing. Few would have put Siuslaw in the contenders column in preseason, but they’re inarguably dangerous. We made a comment a few weeks ago that we weren’t quite sold on Marshfield, and it wouldn’t surprise us if they dropped one randomly to a team like Siuslaw. Well, the Vikings’ moment came, but it came against a different opponent. An optimist would look at this result and simply accept this was bound to happen to someone at some point, and you just happened to be at the short end of it. That’s the position we would take.
- Junction City is too talented, too well-coached, and too well supported to be discounted from title contention. Even with a potential loss on Thursday at Marshfield, Junction City is still in the contenders column and still in the championship chase. This game doesn’t change that, but it does put them in a precarious position.
That leads us to the statewide implications of tonight’s result:
There now exists the possibility of a tie for second place in the Sky-Em. If the favorites win out, a tie is inevitable. We haven’t been able to confirm how this would be settled, but information given to us would suggest that it would be left to the 4A rankings committee itself to sort out. Though a tiebreaker game could be organized and played on Saturday after league play has concluded on Thursday, that does not seem to be in the cards. Inadvertently, Siuslaw could’ve breathed new air into Marist’s season tonight. Assuming the Spartans can beat Elmira on Thursday, which most would consider to be likely, they will tie with the loser of the Marshfield-Junction City game. If that is Junction City, whom they split the season series with, it’s up in the air. The coaches we talked to said there is no defined mechanism for breaking a 2/3 tie in the Sky-Em, only a 1/2 tie. Whether this is true or not we haven’t been able to confirm, but it’s what we’ve been told by authoritative figures. Whatever the case, Marist could be alive. In a tied scenario with a vocal advocate of theirs on the committee, the Marist Spartans might be able to jump back into the Elite-8. But, all this depends on what the tie-breaking mechanism is. We will post an update when we have one.
Pictures taken by Mid-Major Media contributor and owner of LHannDowns Media, Logan Hannigan-Downs. Full Album: https://www.junction-city-vs-siu.lhanndowns.com/