Fresh off his team's 58-49 victory Friday over Central High School in the second round of the 3A state playoffs, Siuslaw head coach Ben McBeth barely had a day to savor the win before the topic of the Vikings' quarterfinal opponent, the La Grande Tigers, came up.
"To be honest, we were so focused on winning the Central game that all our eggs have been in that basket and I don't know much about La Grande right now," said McBeth, whose team won the Sky-Em League this season. "But I know (Ben) Pettit is tough, (Christian) Siltanen can jump out of the gym and Anderson is a dandy point guard."
McBeth's point guard, Ben Voogd, isn't too bad either.
Voogd, a 6-foot-1 senior, is a four-year starter for the Vikings and is averaging 19 points per game to go with seven rebounds and eight-and-a-half assists.
According to McBeth, Voogd, who has signed a letter of intent to play for Louisiana State University next season, is as solid off the court as he is on it.
"The thing about Ben, above basketball, is his character," McBeth said. "He's got an old-school mentality that's kind of gone by the wayside in today's environment, and that's what the LSU coaches saw. This is a kid whose teammates would be happy if he took every shot."
La Grande head coach Aaron Mills knows that Voogd is one of the best players in the state.
"Ben is as complete a player as there is anywhere in Oregon," Mills said. "His range extends out to about 23 feet and he's an incredible passer. So yeah, he's good."
After making it to the state tournament in 2001-2002 and 2002-2003, Siuslaw (18-7) was shut out of the playoffs last season.
"What I've found out about the state tournament is it is a great equalizer," McBeth said. "It doesn't matter what you've done all season, you can't prepare for the environment.
"The nerves, playing on the bigger floor records really go out the window. We finished the preseason 6-4, so it took us awhile to get on track but now we feel battle hardened."
McBeth has already been part of one OSAA state champion team, as a player on the 1987 Dallas squad.
In order for La Grande to be succesful against Siuslaw, Tiger point guard Rick Anderson will have to find a way to circumvent the jitters that might come with playing on such a big stage, and in the same breath find a way to contain Voogd.
"I've had people coming up to me, telling me I'm going to get eaten alive by (Voogd)," said Anderson, a second-team all Greater Oregon League pick. "But to me, I enjoy playing against the best competition possible. It's exciting and I'm not going to back down from anybody.
"I know if we can find a way to contain him and his partner, Christian, Trent (Evins), Ben, those guys are better than the rest of their guys."
Voogd's "partner," 6-foot-2 swingman Aaron Pitcher, is averaging 13.2 points per game.
The Vikings' lack of size gives La Grande, with the 6-foot-6 Pettit (16.8 ppg), 6-3 Siltanen (10.8 ppg) and 6-2 Chris Lowry (8.7 ppg), a decided advantage in the post.
"At the state tournament, it's mainly about dealing with the pressure," Mills said. "What it does to people is make some play better and some not perform at all. Sometimes people forget that these kids are still teenagers."
La Grande-Siuslaw tips off at 3:15 p.m. Wednesday in Corvallis at Gill Coliseum.