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

Big win at Gold Beach sends Santiam to state tourney

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

The Santiam High boys basketball team is headed to the state Class 2A tournament in Pendleton. 

The Wolverines advanced to the quarterfinals with an 81-64 win at Gold Beach on Saturday, Feb. 25. Santiam faced Tri-River Conference rival Kennedy after The Canyon Weekly’s presstime in the 8:15 p.m. Thursday, March 2 contest. The semifinals are Friday, with the championship matchup set for 8:30 p.m. Saturday.

Santiam, the No. 10 seed, used a balanced attack to take down No. 7 Gold Beach. Post Jesse Dana had a monster game with 19 points and 20 rebounds, with coach J.D. Hill noting that “Dana did a great job of keeping any misses alive and getting us second chance points.”

Gage Twede led the scoring list for the Wolverines with 21 points, while Quentin Clark had 20 points and 6 assists and Ezra Downey had 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 7 assists.

State player of the year candidate Gianni Altman of Gold Beach scored 28 points, but 16 of them came in the first period.

J.D. Hill
J.D. Hill

“We were planning to mix man-to-man and a diamond and one defense,” Hill said of the approach to the 5-11 senior, “but when we were in man he made four step back threes so we stuck with the diamond for the rest of the game. The diamond allowed us to double him whenever he had the ball, which put more pressure on his teammates to make shots.”

The 81 points posted by the Wolverines, 20–6,  were the second-highest of the season (they scored 85 on Dec. 13 vs. Scio). 

“They trapped and pressured the ball the whole game, so we had to stay aggressive the entire time,” Hill said.

The win means a fourth encounter with Kennedy. Santiam beat the Trojans 55-52 and 54-47 during the regular season and lost 55-53 in the Tri-River championship game.

“Kennedy might be the hottest team in the state, with a lot of wins versus good teams as of late,” Hill said. “Kennedy and ourselves have very contrasting styles and whoever executes their game plan better will win this game. It is a bit unfortunate we don’t get a little more variety in who we play, but I think we’re excited at the opportunity to get a little revenge against Kennedy.”

The No. 2 Trojans are 22-5 and have won eight in a row since their 54-47 Jan. 30 loss to Santiam in Mt. Angel. Kennedy advanced to the quarterfinals with an emphatic 75-33 home win vs. No. 15 Portland Christian in which the Trojans erupted for 29 points in the third period.

Luke Beyer scored 17 and twin brother Charlie added 14, while Javier Rodriguez (11 rebounds) and Brett Boen (10 rebounds) controlled the boards. Kennedy made a season-high 10 3-pointers and shot 43.5 percent (10 for 23). 

“Seeing Santiam again so soon after the league tournament will be a fun, competitive game,” said Trojans coach Karl Schmidtman. “We both know each other pretty well by this point and I doubt there will be many surprises from either team. We know they are a good team, they are well-coached and they have some of the best shooting in the tournament.  It should be a game of contrasting styles and whichever team is able to play better to their strengths will have a good chance to win it in the fourth quarter. But I expect this to be a very close and competitive game.”

Five Tri-River teams made the eight-team field. No. 11 Regis faces No. 3 Salem Academy and No. 5 Western Christian tangles with No. 4 East Linn Christian Academy. The Santiam-Kennedy winner will play the Regis-Salem Academy winner in Friday’s semifinals, guaranteeing a Tri-River berth in the final. 

Tri-River teams have put on strong showings in Pendleton in recent years. Western Christian is the defending champion, also won in 2019 and was runners-up in 2020 and 2018. Santiam won the title in 2017. Kennedy is seeking its first boys state basketball title.

Girls basketball: Freshman sharpshooter Maizy Downey of Santiam received second-team honors on the all-Tri-River Conference girls basketball team. Chloe Lowery received honorable mention for the Wolverines, who finished their first season under coach Hannah Thompson with an 8-16 overall record and a 5-9 mark in the Tri-River.

Wrestling: Santiam sent 138-pound junior wrestler Wyatt Dayton to the OSAA Class 2A-1A championships in Portland. Dayton drew a bye into the quarterfinals, where he fell to No. 4 seed Lute Ramsden of Enterprise/Wallowa by fall. Dayton then dropped into the lower bracket, where he advanced one step via forfeit before losing to Kaden Konovalov of Willamina. The Wolverines finished with three team points.

Scio, meanwhile, earned six team points in the Class 3A meet, with Conner McCarty (132), Levi Forson (160), Kevin Vath (182) and Jackson Braa (220) all scoring points for the Loggers.

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