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

Wolverines look to finish boys hoops season strong

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

The chance for an undefeated league season is gone, but the Santiam boys basketball team still has much to play for in the regular season’s final two weeks.

The Wolverines finished a brutal two-night stretch against the best teams in the Tri-River Conference’s West Division last Thursday and Friday, Jan. 26-27, downing No. 5 Western Christian 60-56 on Thursday before falling 43-26 to No. 3 Salem Academy on Friday.

The Wolverines were 14-4 overall and 9-1 in league heading into this week’s games. Santiam, ranked No. 7 in Class 2A, led 8-2 Kennedy, ranked 4th, and 7-3 Regis, ranked No. 10 in the East. No. 3 Academy (9-1) and No. 5 Western Christian, 8-2,  top the West Division. 

The Tri-River is guaranteed 4 Class 2A playoff berths, but there are three statewide at-large slots available.
The high rankings of the five contenders means absent a collapse down the stretch all will earn spots in the
final 16.

J.D. Hill
J.D. Hill

“We’ve just got to be ready for the next game,” Wolverines coach J.D. Hill told The Canyon Weekly after the Salem Academy loss. 

The Wolverines visited Kennedy on Monday, Jan. 30, and hosted Regis on Friday, Feb. 3.

“I definitely still have faith in our team,” said Santiam senior guard Ezra Downey, who added that the Wolverines always play expecting to win. “We wanted to finish off league with all wins.”

Against Academy, however, Santiam need far more shots to fall. The Wolverines’ offense depends upon spreading the court for drives to the basket and kick-out passes to the 3-point shooters.

“We’ve got to give them credit,” Hill noted of the Academy defense, “but we couldn’t make a shot. We haven’t missed that many shots in a game all season.”

Academy started three players 6′-4″ or taller, with Santiam countering only with 6′-4″ Jesse Dana.

Ezra Downey
Ezra Downey

“They are a solid, well-coached team,” Downey said of Academy, “but it’s hard to get the shots you want in the paint with that 6′-8″ or 6′-9″ guy there. We needed to be hitting our outside shots and we weren’t hitting them.”

Salem Academy led 17-9 at the end of the first quarter and 26-17 at the half. Quentin Clark scored the first two baskets of the third period for Santiam to cut it to 26-21 but a 17-1 run from Academy while the visitors were going 13 minutes without a field goal eventually pushed the lead above 20 points.

The 26 points scored by Santiam was their lowest of the season by 16. The Wolverines scored 42 in a 44-42 loss to Open Door Christian and 46 in a 47-46 defeat at the hands of Catlin Gabel. Both matchups were in December.

Eight times Santiam’s defense has held opponents to 43 points or less. Salem Academy is the only squad that has scored that few and won against the Wolverines.

Jackson Oglesby (that 6′-8″ or 6′-9″ guy) and his twin brother Jaren, listed at 6′-5″, scored 14 and 12 points, respectively, for the Crusaders and combined to block six shots. Landen Mitchell added nine on three first-quarter 3-pointers. 

Jaren Oglesby added two 3-pointers for the winners, who led Santiam 6-2 in that category. 

Downey scored 10 points for the Wolverines, while teammate Quentin Clark added 8.

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