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Santiam girls hoops has solid returning core

Second-year Santiam girls basketball coach Hannah Thompson has six players returning who played significant minutes on last year’s 8-16 squad.

“I have high hopes for my girls and our competitiveness this year,” Thompson told The Canyon Weekly. “We are young and quick and as long as we stay together and positive, the potential is definitely there to be quite competitive come late season.”

Hannah Thompson
Hannah Thompson

The Wolverines were 5-9 in the 11-team Tri-River Conference in Thompson’s debut. Back are senior Alexa Clark, sophomore Maizy Downey and four juniors, Reese Longfellow, Averie Peterson, Brooke Massey and Boston Flores.

Thompson on Downey: “She was awarded second team all-conference as a freshman last year,” Thompson said. “I have high hopes for her to continue improving and stepping into more of a leadership role as she continues to improve and lead her team.  Her basketball IQ is there, and she has a natural feel for the game coming from a strong family background of great basketball players.”

On Clark: “She is aggressive, always plays hard and also comes from a long family line of great athletes. She’s strong and great around the rim and has been motivated to improve her shooting.”

On the juniors:  “I expect all of these girls to compete and contribute a lot of playing time. Reese has been working hard in the off-season to improve in a number of ways and as her confidence continues to grow I expect her to have a great year on both ends of the court, offensively and defensively. Her length and eagerness to improve will take her as far as she wants to go.  

“Averie and Brooke are both great athletes and very high energy players.  They have motors that just keep going along with a lot of potential. They’ve been playing great so far and continue to surprise me every day,” Thomas said. “And Boston is a gritty, defensive guard that always gives her all. She has been working to improve on the offensive end and it is paying off. She plays hard, runs the floor hard, and has been finishing well around the rim along with starting to expand her shooting range.”

Thompson also will be working with two high-potential freshmen, Eva Sloan and Aubrey Ohrt.

“I am pretty excited about them and expect them to be contributors this year,” Thompson said. “They bring a little more offensive threat to our team with Aubrey being able to shoot the ball outside and Eva being strong around the rim with a nice jumpshot.  We still have some things to work on to prepare them to play at the varsity level but their commitment, and hustle are never a doubt in my mind.”

Ohrt, Massey, Downey, Peterson and Flores all were members of the Santiam volleyball squad that advanced to the Class 2A state tournament in Redmond.

Gervais won both the Tri-River and the Class 2A title a year ago. Colton, Western Christian and Salem Academy also advanced to Pendleton, while Regis fell one game short.

“Western Christian is going to be tough with a majority of their girls coming back along with adding (at least) four transfers to their mix,” Thompson said. “Salem Academy is always competitive and well coached. I expect Regis to be young, skilled, and quick.”

The Wolverines open the season at 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 1, against East Linn Christian in a tournament the Eagles are hosting in Lebanon. Conference play in the 12-team Tri-River begins Jan. 3 when Santiam visits Willamina. Also in the league this year are Blanchet Catholic, Chemawa, Colton, Delphian, Gervais, Kennedy, Regis, Salem Academy and Western Christian. Teams will play 13 league games.

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