As the season winds down and OES basketball completes their final round of league games, I wanted to give a quick by-the-numbers review of what’s been done and what’s to come for the Aardvarks.
10. First, an introduction to the 10 players that make up the current Varsity Squad.
We’ll start with the freshman: Hollis and Cayton. Both welcome additions, they’ve contributed a lot in their first half season. Most notably, Hollis had a big momentum swinging buzzer beater in a tough De La Salle game last week, and Cayton hit five threes in the first quarter against Horizon to help put the team up 23-0.
The sophomore is me, hi!
Our junior class makes up the majority of our roster. First up is Grace B., who can pick anyone’s pockets and look good doing it. Oh, and her drives are lethal. Emily A. is also returning for the ‘Varks. She’s a sharp shooter who fits right in with the team’s tough defense and can find anyone on the court. Tiff L. is the third new addition, but you wouldn’t have guessed it by how she plays. Watch out for her killer jumpers. Lauren H. is the last of the juniors. She’s a big play maker with impressive range and excellent leadership on and off the court.
Finally we have our seniors: Macy, Rachel, and Ava. Macy is also new this year, and we have benefited greatly from her speed and shooting. She can also get things done in the post when we need it. Rachel H is our do-it-all player. Loseballs, box-outs, rebounds, hustle plays, you name it—Rachel does it. She can see the court better than anyone and knows how to get to the rim. Finally we have Ava, who’s been a beast down low. A seasoned veteran, her post moves have been money all season long, and she often records double digit rebounds.
9. Nine is the ranking of Pleasant Hill.
What is so significant about this small, southern Oregonian town, you might ask? Well, besides their fantastic choice in mascot, the Billies (reminder: they’re the Pleasant Hill Billies), they were also the team we beat last year to advance to the State Quarterfinals and make school history. We are hoping for more of that Hill Billy magic along the playoff road this year.
8. Grace B. 21’: “When I was 8 years old, my coach told me that I had gotten 99% better from the start of the season.”
7. Seven is both the girl’s current ranking, as well as the length of the winning streak we are on. This is our longest streak of the season!
6. Number six is for sixth man. You’ve heard it before and you’re going to hear it again, but the fans are considered the “6th man” in basketball. Having a strong crowd behind you really does matter (Ex: the Portland Trail Blazers are over .500 at home, while only .360 on the road). We really appreciate the support we’ve had so far and hope to see even more fans at our final games!
5. Five is Ava’s basketball number. (No I’m not running out of ideas.)
Wylly: “What does the number five mean to you, Ava?”
Ava: “To me it means the number of players on the court. It’s really about community and how that all leads together. My successes are everyone’s successes and vice versa.”
4. Four is the number of seasons Ava and Rachel have played for the ‘Varks.
While recent success may have overshadowed OES’ girls basketball history, winning hasn’t always been a tradition.
“Freshman year we won one league game,” Rachel commented. But considering the current state of OES bball, she said it’s been “gratifying to know all our hard work is paying off.”
Ava added that “we’ve had a lot of great leadership along the way. Our captains in the past and last year with Rachel Lowell have done so much to get us to this position. They made what hasn’t seemed possible, possible, and that wasn’t the case freshman year.”
3. Currently there are just 3 games left in the regular season. To aid in your contribution to #6, here’s the game schedule:
Thursday February 6th vs. Westside Christian at 7:30pm
Monday February 10th @ Riverdale at 7:30pm
Friday February 14th vs. Catlin Gabel at 7:30pm [RED OUT]
**Note that on all of these dates the boys also have a game at 6pm!!
2. The girls team has two big rivals this year.
The first of which is Clatskanie. They are the defending champs and currently hold the #1 ranking in 3A. But they aren’t just this year’s “team to beat.” For the Aardvarks, it’s much more personal.
Last year OES saw their historic playoff run come to an end at the hands of the Clatskanie Tigers. Our gutsy 4th quarter comeback fell six points short of beating the team that went on to win it all. Since then, OES has had one goal on their mind.
“Our goal is to beat Clatskanie. That’s been our goal since the beginning of the year,” senior captain Ava C. ’20 stated, a sentiment echoed by the team.
In a way, it’s come full circle for our seniors.
“Its funny that the one team we did beat our freshman year when a lot of things didn’t go our way is now the best team in the state,” commented Rachel H. ’20. “It would be so cool to beat them again my senior year, especially in a playoff or championship game if we make it,” she continued.
OES’ second enemy is even more personal: ACLs. All-State guard and captain Lauren H. ’21 tore hers earlier this season, and with that came the loss of extreme talent and character on the court. While it’s a challenge in itself to make up for the scoring and ball movement she provided, her impact on defense will be missed even more. Lauren, along with Grace B. ‘21, spearheaded a defensive unit that held teams to the lowest average score in all of girls basketball 6A-2A last season.
Luckily, her ACL has had no impact on how Lauren acts off the court. She has continued to be a huge factor in the team’s success by supporting and mentoring her teammates. OES bball is very excited to have her on the court again next season.
1. One program.
At the end of the day, all of the 10+ teams that make up OES Basketball are part of one program. This season the teams have been more unified than ever before, and this improvement was no accident. At the beginning of the season, Boys Head Coach Ed Kirk sat down the returning players to explain to them the goal of having one unified basketball program. The players bought into that concept immediately by supporting each other in preseason games the very next weekend.
Since then, the theme of unity has been seen throughout OES basketball. Boys captain Milo K. ‘20 organized regular open gyms where athletes of any skill level, grade, or gender interested in playing basketball could shoot around and scrimmage together.
John F. ‘20 and Charles W. ‘21 coach a 6th grade OES basketball team.
Rachel L. ‘19, who is coaching a 7/8th team during her gap year, worked closely with the girls captains to orchestrate a joint middle school/high school basketball practice for program bonding and skill improvement.
And on the girls side, there is no clear division between Varsity and JV. There are often joint practices where players from both teams can make eachother better.
The boys and girls teams have also participated in joint spirit days such as Tropical Tuesday or formal wear on game days.
The basketball program’s unity has been a big factor in this year’s success. Be sure to come out and witness both of your top 10 ranked ‘Vark teams in the last few weeks of what has been a great season so far!