OOL up for grabs

Written by Paul Harder, The Observer December 06, 2013 10:23 am

Powder Valley’s Marcus Pratt is one of five seniors that will grace the starting lineup for head coach Kyle Dixon this season.
Powder Valley’s Marcus Pratt is one of five seniors that will grace the starting lineup for head coach Kyle Dixon this season.
 

Badgers are loaded with senior talent 

It’s open season for the Old Oregon League boys title. A new season brings new expectations. For Powder Valley, the goals are set high.

The Badgers won the district title during the 2011-12 season, and with a strong returning core, look to take back the top spot they shared with Imbler last season. The Panthers would take the top spot in the playoffs with a 53-39 win in the league postseason tournament.

A loaded senior group will give Powder Valley a chance not only to win a league title, but a possible state title. Seniors Marcus Pratt and Quinn Stephens were members of the OOL first team last season. The Badgers starting five will consist of seniors, with Chace Dixon, Tyler Robinson and transfer Jake Grammon on the floor. Robinson was a second-team selection last season. Grammon comes to the Badgers after playing in Baker City the last three seasons. 

Powder Valley fell in the opening stat play-in game to Sherman 80-77.

The Panthers will be the best bet to fend off Powder Valley’s attempts to take the OOL. Imbler returns Kyle Johnson, the co-player of the year. 

But, Johnson will need help this season. The Panthers graduated three starters from last season’s team that finished fourth in the state — Riley Kretchmer, Casey Robertson and Garrett Bigej. Imbler needs to account for the loss of production in the paint with Kretchmer and Roberston and outside with Bigej.

One of the players that will attempt to fill that void will be senior Eli Bowers. Bowers has the ability to stretch the defense with the 3-point shot. Juniors Luke Silbernagle and Joe Griffin will help the offensive cause, and use their quickness to provide strong defense.

Cove could be the surprise team of the league. The Leopards finished the season last year 14-12 overall and 6-4 in OOL play. Senior Colton Deermeerleer, an OOL second team selection is the big offensive weapons coming back. Like Imbler, the Leopards will be looking to fill holes left by graduation. Brandon Batty, a first-team selection, and Carl Gray, a second-team selection, leave large shoes to fill. Batty was the focal point of the offense last season, and know head coach TedRoy McBride will have to retool the offense. Junior Jayden Moore and sophomore Derrick Murchison will need to step into the starting line-up and provide offense and defense. 

Wallowa will have a tough time this season, moving on without co-player of the year Wesley Conrad.Conrad scored 18 points per game for the Cougars. As a team Wallowa averaged 45.3 points, and will need to fill that void. Senior Chaz Murray is the most likely candidate. Fellow senior Spencer Shelton will also need to up is offensive output from a season ago. Wallowa finished the season 7-16 last season, and went 4-6 in league play.

Joseph will have a strong senior presence with nine seniors on the roster. Offense was the challenge with the young group that graduated just one player, Austin Wells. The Eagles averaged 35 points per game, second worst in the league. Joseph won just two games last season, taking two of three meetings over the Spartans. A 2-20 season, with a 1-9 league mark, will be easy to forget. Ben Smallen, Christopher Warnock and Wil Story are going to be the focal point of turning around a program that is a year removed from a winning season.