By Jethro Swain
Sandwiched in between the fall season, where for the soccer teams it’s a state title or bust, and the lacrosse and tennis teams who play 6A opponents at the highest level, basketball, in the winter, is the least ambitious of OES’ three biggest sports.
Traditionally the boys league has been dominated by De La Salle and Portland Adventist, with teams like Rainier and Catlin putting up good teams as well. In the girls league, Portland Christian goes almost undefeated, and Portland Adventist follows in second almost every year.
Last year the girls team narrowly missed out on a state tournament berth, losing to Rainier in the third place game of the league. Expectations were high last year, with four seniors in the starting line-up, including 4-year varsity star Rachael Haugh, who was 1st team all league and led the Aardvarks in scoring every game. “We relied on them for a lot of our scoring last year, especially Rachael, and we’re going to miss their leadership a lot,” said senior captain Emilie D. on the seniors, “Losing four starters and our coaches is a lot of change, and it’s going to be tough to maintain our level of expectation when we’ve lost so much of our team from last year.”
The loss the girls face happens to every team eventually. The boys soccer team had lost a head coach and 24 varsity players over the past two season before this year. But now they have a lot of young skilled players, and a new coach in Todd Abraham, so they’re working to compete this year, while at the same time rebuilding the program with a new foundation. “It’s going to be tough but we’re optimistic. Our chemistry is good and we all want to work hard for each other,” said Emilie.
The quantitative goals for the girl’s team this year are hard to define with so much change happening, the opposite of the goals the guys team has this year.
With only two underclassmen on the team, it feels like the team is hitting a peak this year. The last time either OES team made the trip down to Coos Bay for the state tournament was in 2013, when this years current seniors were in 8th grade.
“If we were to just have one goal, it would be to make the state tournament,” said Boys Varsity captain Alex O. “It hasn’t happened in four years and we really feel like we have a great chance to make it this year.”
The team is headlined by four year varsity starter Emerson L., three year varsity player Alex O., and Junior Ian H. who’s ginger complexion makes him go under the radar, until he hits fifteen threes in a row, yet Assistant Coach Meyers still gets upset with him for not rebounding his own shots. But what’s unexpected about this year is the addition of the Dutch star Colby B., the best basketball player in the Netherlands because he’s most likely the only basketball player in the Netherlands. And lastly there’s the surprise addition of Oren P., who’s the Yao Ming of high school basketball because he can do a standing dunk. However, Oren secretly hates playing center and desperately wants to showcase his talents by shooting 3-pointers. I see him constantly rolling his eyes every time Ian misses a shot.
“The expectations are rigid, but the pressure to succeed isn’t as high as you would think, since we’ve been at the bottom or middle of the league most years. Other teams aren’t expecting us to be that good, which is why we have to start the season strong before we get that target on our backs,” said Alex.
In basketball, at basically every level, there’s so much scouting and information being shared among coaches, that everyone knows who the best player is on every team. Last year Emerson was scoring twenty points a game during the first half of the season, but when teams picked up on him as our best scorer, it became a lot harder for him to score the second half of the season because teams were double a triple teaming him. But this year the team is very deep, with a lot of scorers and a lot of good defenders, it’s going to be hard for teams to shut down the entire team.
“A loftier goal is to win league for only the third time ever. It’s going to be tough because of teams like De La Salle and PAA, but we really feel like we can do it if we play well,” said Alex.
“We have a long road ahead of us,” said Lucas S. on his hopes for the basketball teams, “But if the people want it (a state berth), it will happen.”
It’s going to be an exciting season for both the girls and the guys teams. Make sure to come out and watch their games in December and November!