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

Santiam girls ride 6-game win streak to playoff contention

The Santiam High girls basketball squad has won six games in a row in a push to qualify for state playoff competition.

The Wolverines, in their second year under former Santiam player Hannah Thompson, have not lost since a Jan. 11 defeat against Regis. Since then the squad has defeated Gervais, Kennedy, Colton, Blanchet Catholic, Delphian and Salem Academy to improve to 11-8 overall and 6-4 in the Tri-River Conference.

“I think my girls are doing a great job of coming together as a team,” Thompson said.  “They are starting to believe in themselves and each other and are figuring out their individual roles/strengths within our team, and they are doing a better job of playing to those capabilities. This particular group of girls is a young team full of great athletes that just haven’t played a lot of basketball in their lives. So for them just being able to have fun and start believing in themselves makes such a huge difference.”

Santiam currently is fifth in the Tri-River and must play top contenders Western Christian (11-0), Regis (8-3), Willamina (8-3) and Colton (7-3) down the stretch. The Wolverines took a 34-31 win vs. Colton on Jan. 22, a victory that Thompson said was a sign of the team’s growth.

“A lot of the time, that (growth) is something that comes with time,” she said. “Trusting the process and our game plans, along with all of the things we work on every day, and just playing more basketball. Seeing those things come to fruition and winning games like we did against Colton, does so much for their confidence in themselves and each other.”

Four teams from the Tri-River automatically qualify for the 16-team Class 2A playoffs. The Wolverines can get there directly by advancing through the quarterfinals of the eight-team conference tournament. Also, there are three state-wide at-large berths and Santiam’s No. 15 ranking puts them in good shape there.

“I think it’s a possibility that five or six teams could get into the round of 16 for state,” Thompson said. “I don’t know if seven of us could squeak our way in; five or six is probably more realistic.”

The Santiam boys, meanwhile, face a much tougher road to the playoffs. The No. 13 Wolverines are 5-6 in the Tri-River and 11-8 overall. Santiam has solid wins against Gervais and Colton but stumbled twice against Salem Academy, which is 2-6 against TRC teams other than Santiam. The Wolverines boys face the same conference tournament challenge that the girls do and likely will need an upset or two either in the league schedule or the conference tournament to advance.

Scio’s boys are 4-5 in Class 3A’s PacWest Conference and like the Santiam boys will need to score an upset or two down the stretch to advance to the state playoffs for the first time in school history. 

Dayton (8-0) leads the league, followed by Taft and Santiam Christian at 6-3 and Amity at 4-4 followed by the Loggers. All five teams will participate in the conference playoffs.

“What does all this mean?” said coach Nathan McIntyre.”Scio basketball will still have life after the regular season. At this point unless something drastic happens, Scio will play in the league playoffs for the first time since the 2019/2020 season.”

Scio’s final three regular season games include contests against Dayton and Taft as well as 0-9 Sheridan.

“It is hard to imagine we have gotten to this point already,” Mcntyre told The Canyon Weekly. “It seems like just the other day the boys were coming in and we were introducing them to our philosophy and talking about everything we wanted to accomplish with this season. So much potential. Did we realize it? Some of it, yes, and some of it we will say is still obtainable. 

“The end of the season is always tough. Basketball is a grind. This season we have experienced moments of joy and some heartbreak as well. For some kids it is starting to sink in that these last few days will be the end of their competitive basketball careers. Some are ready for it to be over and some I don’t think have settled into that idea.”

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