Rapid Reaction: Umatilla Springs Trap on Santiam Christian, Advances to State Tournament for First Time Since 2008

Rapid Reaction: Umatilla Springs Trap on Santiam Christian, Advances to State Tournament for First Time Since 2008

Well, that was entertaining! Impressive outside shooting, fantastic defense in spurts, an up-and-down pace that could not be kept up with, and a band of elementary-aged cheerleaders behind them: 3A basketball fans, you are going to enjoy seeing this Umatilla team in Coos Bay. Here’s what we saw:

  • Quickly–yes, an elementary-aged cheer squad. Intentional? Regular? Spontaneous? No clue, but these little ones had the Umatilla faithful in the palms of their hands for most of the game. The Vikings traveled well, and these guys brought the energy.
  • We underestimated Umatilla. Santiam Christian was bigger, had more star power, and had a much flashier resume, but it is quite clear this Viking team had much more to offer as a team–at least, they did tonight. The Eagles offense, for most of the game, was predicated on the three-point shooting of Jackson Risinger and the cleanup abilities of Benjamin Bourne. The Umatilla 3-2 defense–usually not too common in Oregon high school basketball, but quickly becoming more so– put a stop to both as the Vikings adjusted to the environment they found themselves in. The Eagles got no penetration and got into predictable pass situations, and the Vikings capitalized. We are unaware of the total turnovers the Vikings forced, but it was likely more than a dozen.
  • The Umatilla offense played exactly into what SC could not defend, having no player consistently below the free throw line if also beneath the 3-point arc. Leaving the middle open for cutters, drives, and back picks, paired with the excellent three-point shooting the Vikings could employ, proved to be too much for the Eagles to handle. No one player for the Vikings stood out offensively, though Ulises Armenta and Lynkin McLeod certainly played significant roles. This speaks to what ultimately helped them prevail: better team play. Santiam Christian is, in all likelihood, more talented and certainly more experienced on the playoff stage, but being unable to consistently break down the Umatilla zone was undoubtedly due to a visibly evident difference in ferocity; Umatilla was just the more aggressive team, no argument.
  • Freshman Michael Montez–possibly the most unsuspecting player on the floor–gets our player of the game honors in this one. The 5’9” forward was on every essential rebound, every crucial defensive play, and he regularly produced points for the Vikings–whether it be for himself or his teammates. He’s going to be a fantastic player for Umatilla moving forward.

Santiam Christian started hot–as they almost always do, but the Vikings finished. In earning this trip to Coos Bay, Umatilla earned the right to match up with one of the state’s best: Cascade Christian. Even if they lose in that quarterfinal matchup, they will be a fan-favorite throughout the tournament. Bet on it.

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