Hardwood Takes: Oakland, Wells, Clackamas, Putnam, And Crook County Win Opening Week

Only four days of hoops and its already chaos. Every week, I’ll have some hard takes about the week on the hardwood, spreading around headliners, feel good stories, teams on the rise, and other things. With almost 300 schools in Oregon, there’s plenty to talk about and go around on from one week to the next. Since its currently opening week, some teams haven’t played yet, so the pool size isn’t that big to get started. With that said, opening week is about everyone finding their footing and building themselves, so here are the teams that “won” the first four days of action.

The Oakland Oakers made a massive impression in the first week, showing stellar progress in their first two games of the season. They opened the season with 4A #2 and defending state champion Hidden Valley, rising up two classes and fighting the Mustangs in a 46-34 defeat. On Saturday, they faced 1A power North Douglas and came through with a 33-26 win, a mark of achievement and progress for a program that finished 4-11 in the Spring with an Achilles heel for finishing games. Of their 11 losses, seven of them were by ten points or less, showing a team on the verge of a breakthrough. This winter might be the year that we see the Oakers in the playoffs for the first time since 2018-19 season.

With an experienced roster and six seniors, the Wells Guardians put up strong showings against Sandy and bubble Top 10 squad Sherwood. Eliza Digiulio, Charlotte Richman, and Eve Hart have started strong this season, growing a potential triple threat that could challenge highly regarded Benson for the PIL title this winter. The Guardians get two tune-up games before their showdown with Benson on December 17th, setting up what could be a potential upset if the cards fall in place.

We can’t forget the team that knocked off #1 South Medford, none other than the Clackamas Cavaliers. This freshman class is loaded, talented, and aggressive! Jazzy Davidson is a brick wall, mid-range threat, and post presence, Dylan Mogel is aggressive on the boards and can whip up a bucket on a dime, Reyce Mogel has a motor that runs faster than a Ferrari, and much more could be said about this group. This freshman class is the real deal and closing out against the Panthers established them as an elite tier squad this season. When the new power rankings come out after Week 2, look for Clackamas to rise up and maybe find themselves in the top spot.

Here comes Putnam! Their dub over #2 Churchill was probably best painted when Maddie Olma flexed and stared down the Lancers student section, forming a type of fire that blazed throughout the second half and helped them seal the deal. Their defense was really solid in the backcourt and on the perimeter, and their offense was firing on all cylinders from behind the arc alongside solid post play. A liability might be their post defense, as Churchill didn’t seem to have too many issues getting opportunities, but they also didn’t convert efficiently down low. If they can eradicate that weakness, then Putnam might be unstoppable for a while.

Starting off 3-0 is always nice, and it couldn’t be a better start for Crook County. They went on the road to McMinnville and took out the Grizzlies 56-38 to open the year, then came back over the mountains to defeat Lebanon and Bend in the Ridgeview Tournament. They are building a very compelling case to challenge Ridgeview for the Intermountain Conference title, touting two big posts Grace Brooks and Natalie Fischer. With a wealth of experience from seven seniors, this could be the year that they close the gap with Ridgeview and Pendleton in the conference.

Other Honorable Mentions: Willamina, Sutherlin, Lakeview, Central, Junction City, Jesuit

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