And who says that small schools aren’t fun to cover??? Yes, yes, I know, we’re only nine days into a season that goes into March. However, I can’t help but get excited about what we’ve seen so far, not to mention the ramifications of those said results. With the unfortunate luck of rampant injury bugs at the Salem Academy, combined in with Damascus Christian cracking the code to beating Crane, the heavy favorites for the 2A and 1A state titles are now found to be vulnerable. This blows open two races originally believed to be on lockdown, bringing some mystery to the table and the excitement that comes with it! Yes, I’m loving the idea of this 110%!
Let me reiterate, we have a LONG way to go this season. More injuries could derail other top teams, a team might find their groove and catch fire, and so many other things could possibly happen before the state championships. However, the spotlight starts out shined on our two smallest classifications, where the landscapes were erupted with volcanoes that blew them wide open. Starting in 2A, long term, major injuries to two massive key players for the Salem Academy have taken their toll, coming to a head with conference rival Gervais coming to their house and cruising to victory. The loss at the hands of the Cougars not only toppled the Crusaders and their #1 ranking, but it put teams like Bandon, Gervais, Faith Bible, Union, and others in position to claim the state title this winter. It’s difficult to sort out who has the best chances between them, with each one having their own argument for why they can. Gervais has the resume, talent, and experience, Bandon is talented and battle tested, Faith Bible is fast paced, high energy, and well oiled, Union has size advantages alongside a solid foundation, and the Salem Academy can still do it if they learn how to adjust to their circumstances and turn it into something adaptable. With the best gauge I have, here are the updated odds with the current landscape:
New Favorites: Bandon, Gervais
Firm Contenders: Faith Bible, Union
Outside Shots: Salem Academy, Central Linn, Stanfield, Colton
Moving on to the 1A field, this landscape is blown open but not quite to the magnitude of the 2A landscape. The first question that needs to be answered is: How did Crane fall to Damascus Christian? Well, we have tape of that game to dissect and find the answers to that very question. Here is what it revealed: The first quarter was completely cut out, so I can’t find out how the game got started. The Mustangs had score advantages in the game, they kept Damascus from having it easy on the perimeter and had every opportunity to survive the upset bid. However, their poor shooting and missed easy opportunities, mediocre post defense, getting beat on the glass, and unnecessary fouls ultimately opened the door to their defeat. Even in wake of all these things, they still only lost 54-53, a testament to their talent and its ability to mask issues on the floor. Unfortunately for them, it wasn’t enough to keep Damascus from squeaking by them for the upset dub.
Enough about how Crane lost, now it’s about the next question: How does it affect the landscape at large? Well, it cements Country Christian as the newly minted top team in 1A with their resume that includes wins over Top 10 2A teams Gervais and Central Linn, along with a dub over 4A Valley Catholic. Damascus Christian was already considered a Top 5 team entering the season, so this win just propels them ahead of Crane and into the Top 2, with the Mustangs falling in line at third. While there is optimism from camps at St. Paul, Nixyaawii, and North Douglas, these teams will likely sit behind the aforementioned trio for the 1A crown. With none of these six to play each other again until the playoffs, every team will have to present their own cases through performance within their respective schedules. With what we have to work with, here are the updated 1A odds:
New Favorites: Country Christian, Crane, Damascus Christian
Firm Contenders: St. Paul, Nixyaawii
Outside Shots: North Douglas, Trinity Lutheran
As the excitement continues to evolve across all classes, sports, etc., it keeps anticipation in what will happen next. Who will be the next #1 to go down? Philomath? Clackamas? Corvallis? Perhaps Bandon or Country Christian get caught in a trap game? It’s hard to say, but all I can assure is that this will be a very exciting season at this pace of the game! Get your popcorn ready, kick back in your comfy recliner, and watch the insanity be released on our girl’s sports world this winter!