Powder Valley’s Marcus Pratt is flying high along with the rest of his Badger teammates. Powder Valley enters league play Saturday with a 10-0 record.
Teams battle to come out on top in the Old Oregon League
It’s that time of the season when games start to mean a little more in the Old Oregon League. All the non-conference games are out of the way, and teams will battle for the top seed for the postseason tournament. Let’s take a quick look at how the teams are looking.
Badgers early favorite
It’s really an easy choice to put head coach Kyle Dixon’s team at the top — Powder Valley is 10-0 to open the season.
But, what makes this team so good is the personnel that the Badgers are able to put on the floor. Marcus Pratt and Tyler Robinson headline for Powder Valley, but the supporting cast is phenomenal.
Logan Allen may be the biggest shock on this side of the Blue Mountains since the last lightning strike, and that’s probably how it feels for Badger fans. Allen is an efficient scorer in the post, but also has the range to knock it down away from the basket. Brock Jones supplies the same skill set off the bench.
Jason Benites helps Pratt spread the floor out with his ability to shoot from behind the 3-point arc, but is equally dangerous driving to the basket.
We haven’t even mentioned Chace Dixon, who is a leader out on the floor, and not afraid to get into the paint to fight for rebounds.
That cast gives the Badgers a great shot at taking the league, and making a run in Baker City in the state playoffs.
Imbler finding its rhythm
See football storylines for how the basketball season is playing out.
Imbler is facing a massive makeover from last season, and starting to find it’s traction. Panther fans are hoping to trend that happened for the football continues on the hardwood.
Thankfully, Imbler has a rock in point guard Kyle Johnson. It always helps to have one of the player
last season, and starting to find it’s traction. Panther fans are hoping to trend that happened for the football continues on the hardwood.
Thankfully, Imbler has a rock in point guard Kyle Johnson. It always helps to have one of the players of the year.
However, Johnson needs help for the Panthers to make a serious run, and he’s getting it.
Sophomore Trace Vancleave is doing for Imbler what Allen is doing for Powder Valley — scoring points in the paint with the ability to stretch the floor.
The two form a potent pair. It takes two to tango, but it’s going to take more for Imbler to get over the hump against Powder Valley and other top teams in the state.
That’s where Eli Bowers, Luke Silbernagle and Joe Griffin come into the mix.
All three players can stretch the floor, but need to provide head coach Mike Mills with a little more consistency in scoring. More so as the season continues along in the playoffs.
Cove ready to contend
Cove can be a threat on any night around the Old Oregon League. It’s just a matter of which team is going to show up. When the Leopards play within themselves, they can be solid.
This is a team led by two players — Colton Demeerleer and Derrick Murchison — but has a supporting cast that can be effective.
Freshman Brandon McGilvray has been a nice surprise for TedRoy McBride’s team. He’s a tough player, who will continue to get better with increased ball skills. Bailey Hill is a player to watch if he works a little more on his post moves. He has the height at 6-foot-2 to be effective in the paint.
Senior Jayden Moore is a effective slasher running the point. He allows Murchison and Demeerleer to launch from distance, but could also benefit from looking for his shot a little more, forcing defenses to see him as a scoring threat.
Joseph a work in progress
Joseph head coach Olan Fulfer has athletes, but what he’s trying to develop are basketball players. There’s no doubt the roster the Eagles have can run and cut, but it’s putting everything together into the flow of the offense that is a work in progress.
Freshman Cayden DeLury is the clear-cut scorer for Joseph. He has the best handles on the team, and a good looking jump shot. Will Story is the most effective wing player when counting offense and defense. He also has the height to move into the paint to score.
Sophomore Sam Beckman is a piece of the puzzle if he can find his spot, he could be very effective. He’s a tenacious defensive player, creating a lot of turnovers at the La Grande Optimist Christmas Classic. He can also spot up from behind the 3-point arc and knock down shots. All that’s missing is a little confidence.
Guard Blair Beaudoin and post Ben Smallen are two senior’s who will need to contribute a bit more in their respective positions.
Wallowa still working
Wallowa is a wild-card team in the Old Oregon League. Step one is getting healthy. The team was ravaged by the flu bug during the La Grande Optimist Christmas Classic, and now is trying to make up for lost time.
Senior Spencer Shelton is a dangerous player from the outside, but more effective when driving the basket. Shelton and Murray give the Cougars a solid high-low combination. Murray has the ability to get his shot in the paint.
Like most teams, the question is where are the other points going to come from. One answer is sophomore Cole Hafer. Hafer has the size to be effective all over the floor at 5-foot-11, and will find his role with more playing time with the rest of the team.
If the youth of Wallowa progresses quickly enough, the Cougars could shock a team in the league postseason tournament.