UNION TOURNAMENT TIPS OFF BASKETBALL SEASON

November 30, 2001 12:00 am

The annual Union Lions Club Basketball Tournament starts the 2001-02 high school season with four games this afternoon and tonight.

Union, Powder Valley and Cove are joined by Lapwai, Idaho, for the two-day tournament in the Union gym.

Coves girls and boys play Lapwai at 3 and 4:45, then Powder Valleys teams clash with Union at 6:30 and 8:15.

Saturdays consolation games are at 1 p.m. and 2:45 p.m., and the championship girls and boys games are at 4:30 and 6:15.

Today, The Observer runs previews of the six local teams in the tournament. Previews for other area basketball and wrestling teams will run next week.

Union boys

Coach: Alex Steenstra, first year with boys (last two years with girls, 8-36)

Returning starters: Todd Satterfield, 5-7, soph; Lucas Maples, 5-7, sr (honorable mention all-Wapiti League); Jordi Steenstra, 6-4, jr (honorable mention all-Wapiti League).

Other players: A.T. Warren, 5-7, sr; Tanner Johnson, 5-7, jr; C.W. Dunbar, 5-7, sr; Jeremy Shenkel, 6-5, jr; Morgan OConner, 6-1, sr; Jared Baxter, 6-1, jr; Mike Maley, 5-10, sr; Ace Clark, 6-3, sr; Josh Steenstra, 5-7, fr.

Last year: 13-12, fourth in Wapiti League.

Rundown: With the exception of Joseph, Union should have the height in the Wapiti League this year, especially with 6-4 Jordi Steenstra and 6-5 Shenkel blocking the middle.

Since we seem to have an advantage height-wise, except for Joseph, we want to be looking inside first, said coach Steenstra, who takes over for Jim Martin, who now teaches at La Grande Middle School.

If the posts play well, then we should have some good balance because we have some good shooters with Lucas and Todd. The key to our success is going to be defense and rebounding.

The teams biggest weakness is a lack of depth and the potential for turnovers.

Theres a little adjusting going on and learning new stuff, coach Steenstra said. Its probably going to take some time, a couple of games, to get it all down, but basketball is basketball.

Union GIRLS

Coach: Wayne Herron, first year back with girls after coaching to 53-49 record 1988-1993.

Returning starters: Stephanie Upshaw, 5-9, sr; Jana Brotherton, 5-10, jr; Sarah Bomberger, 6-0, jr (second-team all-Wapiti League); Kallin Prince, 5-5, soph.

Other players: Shonda Titus, 6-1, sr; Liz Gruis, sr; Brittany Wright, 5-8, sr; Ammi Kucera, 5-10, jr; Rosa Goodman, 5-10, jr; Shannon Mitchell, soph; Lena Weitlauf, soph; Sandra Meredith,

5-8, fr.

Last year: 3-19, seventh in Wapiti League.

Rundown: Herron returns after an eight-season break from coaching girls basketball, and he inherits a team with some good size.

Thats one of our strengths, is our height. Even several of our wings have pretty good height, too, he said.

Having four returning starters, plus a significant player and part-time starter in Titus, doesnt hurt.

Prince retains her point guard duties, and shes part of a group, along with Upshaw and Wright, who adds quickness on the floor to that height.

On our perimeter weve got several girls that have pretty good quickness, too, he said.

Its a new system, though, and Herron expects it will take time for the team to get used to his terminology and system.

Its worked in the past Herron coached the 1990 team that tied for second place with Grant Union in the Wapiti League behind Imbler. Union lost at district to Grant Union, which went on to place at state. Imbler won the state title that year.

I really felt like we had one of the best teams in the state, but we ended up staying at home, Herron said.

Cove boys

Coach: Todd Gorham, third year, 20-21.

Returning varsity: Jeff Manley, 6-0, sr; Justin Marler, 5-6, sr.

Other players: Shawn McLaughlin, 5-11, sr; Chris Taylor, 5-10, soph; Devan Frank, 6-2, soph; Andy Altenburg, 6-0, soph; Josh Pfel, 5-8, soph; Tanner Marshall, 6-0, fr.

Last year: 6-10, fifth in Old Oregon League.

Rundown: Count on pretty much a new varsity team in Cove this year.

Manley and Marler played sparingly on varsity last season, combining for 17 points all year. Coves speed will have to be its strength.

I think were pretty quick, Gorham said. Ive decided were going to press a little bit, try to use some of that

quickness.

Coves schedule is brutal. The Leopards open this afternoon at the Union Lions Club Tournament against Lapwai, a powerhouse from Idaho. Saturday they play either Union, a tall team, or Powder Valley, an Old Oregon League contender.

At our tournament in two weeks, weve got Echo the first game, but then Imbler and La Grande JV, which are both pretty good, Gorham said. Then we go to Imblers tournament and play Nyssa in the first game. Then we go to Wallowa before Christmas and we play Jordan Valley the first game.

Im just looking for improvement every game.

COVE girls

Coach: Dick Royes, second year.

Returning all-Old Oregon League first-teamers: Kelcie Robinson, 5-11 (all-state tournament first team, all-state second team), jr; Lisa Scheele, 5-6, jr.

Other players: Carrie Pereira, 5-2, sr; Jennifer Johnson, 5-6, sr; Toni Whitall, 5-5, sr; Cathy Mann, 5-7, jr; Amy Puckett, jr; Jessie Johnson, 5-8, soph; Christina Kane, 5-8, soph; Cassie Mills, 5-9, fr; Ashley Holland, fr.

Last year: 17-6, tied for league title, fourth at state tournament.

Rundown: Theres a hangover from volleyball season, and thats not bad at all in Cove.

Were looking pretty good, considering that we havent had as many practices as wed like, said Royes, whose players won the Class 1A state volleyball title earlier this month.

That boost of confidence, plus the fourth-place state tournament showing from last years team, bodes well for the Leopards this year. Leading scorers Robinson (12.5 ppg) and Scheele (10.1 ppg) lead a group that knows the

system.

Its a lot easier to get going, said Royes, in his second year at the helm. Theyre smart girls, they know basketball and theyre just picking it up

quickly.

Robinson has improved immensely.

Shes probably as good as she was last year and then some, Royes said.

Even with four juniors, Royes has a veteran staff. Johnson was the JV teams leading scorer a year ago, and the four juniors have all played significantly.

The only problem early in the season may be the lack of basketball

conditioning.

We may not shoot real well from the outside, Royes said. We need a lot more practices to get our shooting down. We like to run when we can. Thats going to take a few more weeks.

POWDER VALLEY girls

Coach: Allen Bingham, fifth year, 54-34.

Returning starters: Ashley Wisdom, sr (second team all-Old Oregon League); Amanda Bingham, 5-8, sr (honorable mention all-state, first team all-league); Cali Taylor, 5-8, sr; Jamie Simonis, 5-9, sr.

Other players: Joelle Bain, soph; Amy Russell, sr; Amber Harrison, sr; Lacey Kasper, sr; Chelsi Pedro, jr; Heather Tittle, soph; Haley Coleman, jr; Shanna Nelson, soph; Mandi Wendt, jr; Lacey Lyman, soph.

Last year: 18-5, tied for Old Oregon League lead, third at district.

Rundown: The Badgers took a blow when senior Sami Wendt tore an anterior cruciate ligament in a knee before volleyball season.

Wendt was an all-league second-teamer and Powder Valleys third-leading scorer.

Itll be interesting to see how we gel, coach Bingham said. Were not going to be big, but weve got a lot of girls with a lot of speed and quickness.

Leading scorer Amanda Bingham (11.3 ppg) leads a strong group of seniors, most of whom have started since they were sophomores. Replacing Wendt will be Bain, who played a lot last year and would have played a lot regardless of Wendts status.

Weve got some good athletes and weve got some good jumpers, coach Bingham said. Our weakness is our height. You cant coach that, but you can do a lot of things to help compensate for that height, and I think were going to be able to do it.

POWDER VALLEY boys

Coach: Blake Jones, 11th year, 126-96.

Returning all-Old Oregon League players: Brody Turner, 6-0, sr (first-teamer); Riley Martin, sr (second-

teamer).

Other players: Justin Heffernan, 6-1, sr; Lucas Gray, sr; Nolan Lyman, sr; Anthony Swales, sr; Deven Thompson, soph; Todd Baxter, soph; David Dozhier, jr; Josh Brown, soph; Riley Grove, soph.

Last year: 23-3, tied for league title, fifth at state tournament.

Rundown: We lost a pile of kids,Jones said, and he wasnt just referring to graduation.

Martin has a broken hand and Baxter just had knee surgery, and both players are out until at least after Christmas.

That puts the onus on Turner, who was Powders second-leading scorer at 15.4 points per game. Heffernan will have to pick up some slack, too, and when Martin returns, all will have to settle into a new lineup.

Weve just got to learn how to play with each other, Jones said. Weve got to learn each others habits. This is a group, Brody and Justin and Riley, that has a ton of playing time, but its largely with the group that went out. Theyve got to learn they have to be the leaders now.

The team has only had three practices since the end of football season, so Jones doesnt expect much this weekend at the Union Lions Club Tournament except that his team will play hard.

Theyre going to have to win early off their aggressiveness, he said. They do play hard and they have a lot of pride in not having people outhustle them.