TOURNEY COACHES PRAISE OOL
Top-ranked Imbler and No. 7 Joseph are highly regarded by Class 1A boys basketball coaches around the state.
Imbler has the top seed from the Old Oregon League going into the Panthers' first-round game against defending champion North Clackamas Christian in the OSAA/U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires State Championships.
The Imbler-North Clackamas game opens tourney action today at 1:30 p.m. at Baker High School.
Joseph, the No. 2 seed from the OLL, squares off against second-ranked Columbia Christian at 6:30 tonight.
Jim Flint is in his 11th year as head coach of Columbia Christian. The Knights were runners-up at state the last two years, falling to North Clackamas Christian last March.
"Joseph looks like an awfully good team," Flint said while en route to Baker City.
Flint said Imbler and Joseph are regarded by many coaches as the top two 1A teams in the state.
Columbia Christian (21-6) has just two returning starters seniors Jackson Tandy and Renato Aliaj. Each averages about 15 points a game. Flint said the tallest Knight who'll see much action is only 6-foot-1.
"We work hard. We try to help each other," Flint said. "We're not overly quick.
"We're very unselfish. We play well together."
The strength of the team, according to Flint, is that Columbia Christian has a strong "team concept" and the Knights "complement each other."
In other first-round games today, second-ranked Crow faces Ione at 3:15 p.m. and Umpqua Valley Christian plays South Wasco County at 8:15 p.m.
Friday's semifinal games are set for 3:15 and 8:15 p.m.