Harrisburg d Siuslaw: 41-53
Toledo d Siuslaw: 50-65
Siuslaw d Samuel Robertson: 60-38
Dec. 18, 2019 — The Siuslaw Vikings boys basketball team had its first win of the season over the weekend at the Les Schwab Eagle Booster Club Invitational, which was held Thursday through Saturday.
“They were excited, ready to play — and they’re competitors,” Siuslaw coach Dylan Perry said. “I never have to question their heart. They’re always giving 110 percent, which is exactly what you want as a coach.”
However, getting to that first win was a tough road that began with a loss to Harrisburg on day one of the tournament Thursday. The game was close for the first three quarters.
“I thought we played well,” Perry said. “[Harrisburg] ran a little bit of a match-up zone that confused our guys a bit in the second half. I believe we were within a basket of being tied, and then the last quarter they outscored us 12-2 to end up with the victory. We struggled with offense and understanding their defense and how to attack it.”
Perry chalked up the loss to the team’s Achilles heel this year — mental mistakes.
“In critical situations, we just didn’t execute where we should have,” said Perry. “It shot us in the foot in several games this year that I believe — and I know the guys believe — we should have won. But because of those mistakes, it put us in a situation where we ended up walking out with a loss.”
The Viks learned from their mistakes, entering Friday’s game against Toledo with a newfound spirit.
“We played probably our best game of the season up to that point,” Perry said. “We started executing the way I knew we could. We started to hit shots and create shots for each other that we’ve been preaching the entire season.
“Everything was starting to come together.”
Until it didn’t, due in large part to Toledo senior Conner Marchant, who scored a whopping 38 points against Siuslaw.
“He was really, really good,” Perry said. “He was hitting threes, driving to the basket. He’s six feet tall, 200 pounds, well built. He’ll probably be playing college basketball next year. We tip our hat to him. He made some really hard shots and created a lot of good plays. They had a lot of open shooters on their team and were very well balanced.”
But the Viks didn’t give up, keeping the score hopeful throughout the game. At one point in the fourth, Siuslaw was only down by three baskets. The Viks tried to stretch for the win, but Toledo pulled away, winning by 15.
The fact that they even had a shot against Toledo, which reached the final four in its division last year, gave the Viks some confidence going into the final game of the weekend against Samuel Robertson from British Columbia.
Even though the Viks were nursing a five-game losing streak, Perry told them that records don’t matter.
“I don’t care if we’re 20-0 and going into the state championship,” Perry said. “None of that matters. The only game that matters is the game right in front of us. Obviously, none of us want to be where we’re at. We all agree we should be better than this. [Saturday was] our day to prove how good we are.”
And the Viks did just that.
The game started off slow at first, up only 1 point at the end of the first quarter.
“I reiterated to them that we’ve got to get going,” said Perry. “They started pumping each other up, getting excited on the sideline. They were playing for fun and playing with a smile. That’s when it started going our way.”
The Viks started putting on full-court pressure, playing with extreme intensity. Samuel Robertson missed a couple of shots, which created more excitement for the Viks.
“It was just kind of a snowball effect that continued the rest of the game,” Perry said. “It all finally clicked together. The last three quarters, we weren’t making our mental mistakes. We were executing exactly what we needed to do, and it reflected in the score at the end of the game.”
At one point, the Viks were up by 32. Perry started playing the end of his bench a little more, creating a small in for Robertson, but by then the win was a lock.
“We were playing together,” Perry said. “We were creating shots for each other. We preach all the time, “Don’t do it on your own. Be good a teammate and work extremely hard on defense.’ We have the athletes to run up and down the court. When we believe it and we buy in completely, and we’re all playing hard for each other, we can create really good opportunities for ourselves. And that’s what we did.”
The Viks were stealing throughout the night, hitting their layups and hard open shots. They were also having fun.
“They’re a younger group that hasn’t played a ton of varsity basketball,” Perry said. “A lot of times they’re nervous and in their own heads. You just have to let go, play your hardest and be a good teammate. When they do that, good things come of it. That’s what they finally did.”
Every basket was a celebration, with the bench whooping and hollering.
“It starts with working hard,” Perry said. “But when you see that ball go into the basket, your confidence level shoots up. In basketball, confidence is everything. It’s a technically skilled game, probably the hardest high school sport to be good at. But when they started understanding what we wanted to them, it all cliqued together.”
Perry praised Braydon Thornton, who had a season-high of 25 points. “He probably could have had 35-4 if he had hit some of the easier shots he normally makes. He had an exceptional game.”
Liam McClellan and Brody Terry had 8 points each, and Jacob Foskett had 7.
“It was pretty well balanced all over,” Perry said.
Tonight, Siuslaw will play at Stayton High School beginning at 7 p.m. Friday, the Viks will play the Lancers at South Umpqua, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Both games will be broadcast on KCST Radio 106.9 FM, beginning with the Lady Viks at 5:15 p.m. (Stayton) and 5:45 p.m. (South Umpqua).