Siuslaw readies for league play

Siuslaw Boys d Mazama: 52-43

N. Valley Girls d Siuslaw: 24-28

Jan 25, 2020 — The Siuslaw boys basketball team closed out pre-league play with what coach Dylan Perry described as “the best game of the season” against Mazama during the Sky-Em/Skyline Crossover last weekend.

“Everything just started clicking,” Perry said, “The little things that we practiced and always talked about — especially our mental toughness — came through.”

Mazama came into the game with a physical style mixed with height and strength.

“We’re not the biggest team physically,” Perry said. “We’ve got some good height, but we’re not quite as strong as some of the older, senior kids that Mazama had.”

But the Viks battled the entire time, including through a tight first quarter where teams battled back-and-forth with pressure at both ends of the court.

“We were maybe taking some shots that were a little bit forced and weren’t being patient enough because of the pressure,” said Perry. “But our defense kept us right in the game”

The score kept trading places throughout the second quarter, which ended with the Viks holding a 3-point deficit heading into halftime. Perry said he communicated the need to take better shots by taking more time — and not getting panicked against Mazama’s strong defense.

When Siuslaw took to the court for the third period, its players executed their offense and defense with skill, blocking Mazama from making any field goals throughout the quarter — with Mazama’s only points coming from the free-throw line.

“We got a lot of rebounds on the offensive end of the court,” Perry said. “But we didn’t give up layups off of them. We fouled them and got to the line. They made quite a few free throws, but not all of them. That’s better than giving up layups.

“As a coach, not giving up a single basket in the third quarter was nice.”

Going into the fourth quarter, it was back and forth again. With a minute left in the game, the Viks were up by one basket. Siuslaw increased the pressure on Mazama, which attempted a steal — with a foul being called instead. One of Mazama’s players got angry and tossed the ball, prompting officials to issue a technical. By the time it was over, the Viks had secured a 9-point lead, which they held to the final buzzer.

Sophomore Brody Terry led scoring with 18 points, all in the second half against Mazama.

Liam McClellan contributed 14 points for the Vikings, including 11 in the second half.

Perry said one of the biggest improvements in the game — as well as over the last seven games — has been the team’s ability to finish strong through all four quarters.

“We’ve had several games this year where we’re competing at the end of the game when it’s a close one,” Perry said. “We’re trying to learn how to win. Last year, most of our games we were either blowing a team out, or them blowing us out. Getting this experience to finish out games has been huge for us in pre-season. I think it will be really beneficial going for us into league play.”

The Viks started off the season with five straight losses, though Siuslaw’s scores always diminished in the second half of the game.

“In the Newport game, we were winning the first half and then there was a stretch in the third where we fell apart,” Perry said of that season opener, which the Viks lost 48-68.

In the Pleasant Hill loss, which saw Siuslaw drubbed 27-58, “We played with them all the way to the third quarter and were only down by 5 at one point. Then we fell apart.”

The Sutherlin game went down to the wire, with Siuslaw losing by 2, followed by Harrisburg, where they were tight until the fourth quarter and let things fall apart.

“And then Toledo, they’re the number one team in 2-A and will probably win the state championship,” Perry said. “But we played them tight right down to the end.”

The problem this year hasn’t been the lack of trying by the Viks — they’ve put effort into every minute they’ve played. But mental mistakes and sometimes bad luck kept Siuslaw from its first win until they playing Samuel Robertson a month ago.

Since then, they’ve won six-out-of-nine games.

“We want to be peaking this year, playing our best basketball. And I saw that on Saturday,” Perry said. “We can compete with any team in our league, but we’re going to have to play those four full quarters. There’s no gimmies in our league right now.”

The first league game will be against Cottage Grove (Jan. 17), a young team that is currently struggling to gain consistent wins this season. Still, Perry doesn’t count them out.

“Some games have been a bit lopsided, but they’re super competitive this year,” Perry said. “Their coach does a great job getting them prepared to play. They’ve got two really good sophomore guards like we do as well.”

Perry also pointed out that when it comes to league play, teams act a little differently.

“The intensity of the game and everybody’s play level jumps up,” he said. “You never know, depending on the record, what team is going to show up.”

Perry said that he expects his team’s first league game to be a great match-up, and that he fully expects Cottage Grove to bring their best basketball of the season to the court.

But so will Siuslaw.

“If we execute and do what we need to do, not worrying about what the other team does, I think we’re going to come out the victor there,” Perry said.

• For the Lady Viks, the pre-season has been tough going, though they were able to post their first win of the season last week.

Since then, the scores have been tight and the girls haven’t backed down, losing by 11 to Taft last week and by 25 to Phoenix on Friday.

Saturday’s game was a heartbreaker, as the Viks kept the score close throughout, posting a a narrow 4-point loss to North Valley on Saturday.

League play officially starts this Friday at Cottage Grove, with the boys game kicking off the evening at 5:45 p.m., followed by the girls match-up at 7:15. Live coverage on KCST 106.9 FM begins with pre-game at 5:30 p.m.


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