Dec. 6, 2021 — The Viking basketball team’s roster was not complete until two days before tipoff of the first game of the season. This was for a good reason. Half the players on the Siuslaw varsity basketball team just finished a successful run to the 3A state football title, playing in the football championship game just four days before their first basketball game of the season against Bandon on Dec. 1.
That rust was not apparent on opening night. The Viks were up 15-8 after the first quarter and had increased their lead to 12 by the half, 30-18. Though the Tigers were able to tighten things up and tie the score in the third quarter, Siuslaw’s tough play in the fourth quarter was enough to pull out the victory 55-47.
Coming into the game, Bandon was ranked #8 in the OSAA 2A Coaches Poll and showed that they are more than capable of playing with teams from higher divisions than theirs, such as Siuslaw, who is a 4A team.
“It was a great opener for us. … Wasn’t the prettiest, but we will always take the win,” said Viking Coach Dylan Perry. “It was sloppy play on our part. We need to do a better job taking care of the ball. Hats off to Bandon — they’re going to be a solid basketball team this year. They played hard and tough.”
Seniors Braydon Thornton and Brody Terry led the Viks in scoring with 15 points apiece.
Two days later — and still with only a handful of practices as a whole team under their belt — the Vikings traveled to Newport for a non-league matchup with the Cubs on Dec. 3.
The visiting team got off the bus firing on all cylinders. Before Newport knew what hit them, Siuslaw was up 20-2. That was the score at the end of the first quarter and the Vikings never looked back after that.
“Great second game of the season,” said Perry. “Our defense and intensity really were the story of this game. The kids bought into the game plan and executed it well. There were slips here and there throughout the game, but that is expected in your second game of the season, and still (with us) not having a true physically intense practice that is needed early in the year. We have a great group of seniors that know what it takes to win games and when they are clicking, like they did last night, they show why they are one of the top teams in the state.”
Senior Avery Hart had his second straight double-double to start the season and finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds.
“Could have had 30 if he made all his shots inside,” Perry said of Hart. “He’s a monster. He could be a sleeper for league MVP.”
Terry also had 15 points for the Viks versus Newport.
After a shortened 2020-21 season, Perry is excited for a somewhat normal season. With the football team’s success and the delay of the arrival of football players to practice, this season hasn’t started out very normal either.
“We will have two practices as a full team before we tip off the season against Bandon at home [on Dec. 1],” said Perry. “In that case, it will be very similar to our COVID season last spring, where we had one week to prepare to play and got many athletes the week of games starting as they finished their track/baseball seasons. Luckily for our program, we have a strong group of seniors and juniors who have been in the program and understand what we are trying to do.”
Luckily for the Vikings, they have a large slate of non-league games before they begin play in what looks to be an especially strong Sky-Em League this year. This will be Siuslaw’s last year in the Sky-Em, as the school is dropping down to 3A next year and will play in a different conference with 3A schools.
Mid-Major Media, a website that covers small school high school sports in Oregon, ranks four Sky-Em League teams in their top 10; Marshfield #1, Siuslaw #6, Marist #7 and Junction City #10.
“League play will be very competitive once again this year in the Sky-Em League,” said Perry. “Marshfield returns almost their entire roster that won the 4A culminating week tournament [last spring]. Marist will reload with plenty of talent from their impressive program. Junction City returns the majority of their core who were ranked #1 in 4A for the majority of the season last year. Cottage Grove returns their entire roster that is extremely athletic and should be very competitive. Elmira has a new coach and should improve with most of their young players returning this season.”
Perry expects a tough conference race this year, but he expects his Vikings to be in the thick of it.
“My expectations are for us to compete for and win the Sky-Em league this season,” said Perry. “That is our #1 goal going into the 2021-22 season. Most of our varsity roster will consist of players who have accomplished a lot in their respective fall postseasons with our cross country runners winning the state title and our football team just completing their own state championship victory. That type of experience is invaluable and will most certainly carry over a confidence and experience needed for our basketball program to follow.”
Those expectations look justified with how the Vikings have played to start the season.
Siuslaw traveled to North Bend on Dec. 6 after press deadlines to face the Bulldogs. The Vikings will next be on the court tonight, Dec. 8, when they head to the valley to face the Pleasant Hill Billies at 7:30 p.m. This weekend, SHS will compete in a tournament at Harrisburg High School with the first game being Friday against Monroe at 4:30 p.m.