News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Santiam boys now 6-0 in Tri-River Conference play

The Santiam High boys basketball team moved to 6-0 in Tri-River Conference play on Tuesday night with a 65-55 victory against visiting Blanchet Catholic.

The victory moved the Wolverines, ranked No. 10 in Class 2A, to 11-3 overall. Santiam, which plays in the Tri-River’s East Division with Kennedy, Regis, Culver, Colton and Gervais, is now moving into a stretch of games against the East Division, which also includes Delphian, Willamina, Western Christian and Salem Academy. 

“Things are starting to come together for us,” coach J.D. Hill told The Canyon Weekly. “We’re playing with confidence on offense and with intensity and focus on defense. We have a lot of talent and when we play this way we will win most games.”

A key piece during the undefeated Tri-River run to date has been the play of post Jesse Dana.

“He has had a very solid stretch of games,” Hill said of the 6-4 senior. “He’s always had a knack for rebounding, but he’s been much more focused lately and it has raised his game to a whole new level. 

“We really need the skills he brings to the game for us to reach our goals.”

Trailing Santiam in the East Division are No. 3 Kennedy 4-1) and No. 13 Regis (4-2). The Wolverines scored victories over the Trojans and Rams earlier this month but must play both squads again. 

Leading the way in the West Division are Western Christian (5-0) and Salem Academy (4-1). The Wolverines host Western on Jan. 26 and visit Academy on Jan. 27.

“Both sides of the league have some good teams, but you only get one chance at those teams and every game will be huge in the final standings because of how many good teams our league has,” Hill said.  

“I think the most interesting thing about our league though is how different every team is in their style of play. Some have great athletes, some have height, some have skill, and some have a lot of depth. Every night brings a different challenge in this league.”

Santiam’s girls squad, meanwhile, fell to 2-4 in Tri-River East play with a 45-36 loss to Blanchet. The Wolverines have struggled a bit in recent weeks because of a knee injury suffered by senior guard Chloe Lowery in a tournament in Newport in December.

“She had started in every game up until her knee injury,” first-year coach Hannah Thompson told The Canyon Weekly. “She’s had a couple doctor’s checkups on it and they said it was a sprain so we are hoping her knee will continue to heal up quickly.  

“Chloe has been great for me all season – I think of her as the ‘glue’ on our team, due to her consistency.  She is one of our best defenders along with knowing her role on the team and doing it well.  

“She has really stepped into more of a leadership role this year and has been doing a good job in that. I have been really proud of her and we are all eager to have her back on the court.”

Helping take up the slack during Lowery’s absence has been freshman guard Maizy Downey, whose basketball roots run deep at Santiam. Older brothers Julian and Jonah led the Wolverines to the 2017 Class 2A title, while a third brother, Ezra, is a standout guard for this year’s squad, with Julian serving as an assistant coach. 

“Maizy has also been doing really well for me this season,” Thompson said. “Coming from a very basketball oriented family – she has a good understanding of the game. She has consistently been an offensive asset for us this season and I know she will continue to be.  

“Her defensive efforts have continued to impress me and she has quickly become one of our best defensive players as well. With her only being a freshman I have no doubt she will continue to expand her skill set and as her confidence continues to grow, the sky truly is the limit for her. I’m excited to see how she continues to progress this season and in her future as well.”

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