Jan. 29, 2020 — The Siuslaw boys basketball team lost two home games in a row last week — to Marist and Marshfield — two teams that Vikings coach Dylan Perry described as “definitely the two best opponents in our league.”
Against Marist, Siuslaw started out strong.
“We played back and forth through most of the first half,” Perry recalled. “We executed our game plan and defensive strategy on some of their good players. I thought we did a good job and ran our offense well.”
But as the third quarter rolled around, the Viks began slipping on execution.
“We made some mental mistakes and unforced turnovers, taking shots that weren’t as good as we wanted to take,” Perry said. “Those two things kind of dug us a deficit that we couldn’t get out of.”
The Viks ended up losing by 17 points.
Still, Perry praised his team’s effort in the game, pointing out that it was a huge improvement over last year’s 27-point loss against Marist.
“But our guys aren’t satisfied with improvement — we want to win,” Perry said. “We understand that we have to win these games for the opportunity to play at state. So, it was a little disheartening to lose that game. But they were excited, knowing they could play against those top teams in the state.”
Coming into Friday’s game against Marshfield, the Viks were excited, “though we knew it was going to be a super tough game,” according to Perry. It ended up being that.
“It was a really fun game to coach. Our players played really well for 26 minutes out of the 32 of the game. I thought we played as good as Marshfield, if not better,” Perry said. “But those other six minutes — we allowed stuff to happen that we can’t let happen if we want to win those super competitive games.”
The story was the same as with Marist, according to Perry, with some “silly turnovers and not taking value shots. We can’t settle for just any shot. We want to get the best ones we can. I think for most of the game, we got the shots we wanted. But not what we needed.”
This is not to say that the Viking’s didn’t play hard. Standouts included Braydon Thornton, who held off Marshfield’s top scorer throughout most of the game.
“He took that match-up like I knew he would. He’s a competitor and I thought he did an amazing job guarding him,” Perry said.
The Viks other point guard, Brody Terry, also impressed Perry.
“Both have got the skills and competitiveness we need, and they’ve played a lot of basketball — So, they understand what needs to be done in certain situations,” Perry said. “Brody hit some really big shots and Braydon got some really good steals. Our energy on defense was just exactly what we needed to be competitive in the game.”
Perry also praised Liam McClellan, saying, “He’s as steady as they go. He knocked down a lot of big shots for us to keep us in the game. We’re just looking for one other guy to get us double digit scoring. If we can get a fourth guy to step up in any of our games, we have an opportunity to win.
The Viks sit at 1-2 league and 7-10 overall as of Monday.
“It’s kind of where I expected us to be,” Perry said. “I knew the Cottage Grove game was going to be competitive. That was a big win for us. I thought we could have possibly stolen one of these last two games. I know we probably could have — and should have — but they’re behind us now so we can’t really do anything about that.”
Making it to state, or even the playoffs, is still up in the air for the Viks.
“We have to get first or second in league to get an automatic bid. Then the top 18 teams get an opportunity, but you have to be ranked 20 or higher,” Perry explained.
At press time, the Viks were ranked 26th in the league.
“We’re going to have to get an upset win against somebody that’s ranked ahead of us for us to jump up. Or we’re going to have to go on a run to get those top 2 spots to get an opportunity.”
That’s not to say that Perry has given up hope.
“Both of those options are still very possible,” he said. “But we have to take it one game at a time and take care of business, we can’t really look ahead and hope for all that’s in front of us.”
Friday’s game against Junction City could be a turning point for the Viks.
“It’s going to be another close game,” Perry said, pointing out that they’re ready for the competition.
“They’ve been in a lot of these situations, so hopefully after the bad taste left last week, they’re going to understand what it takes,” Perry said.
But it won’t be an easy win.
“They’re really well coached and super disciplined,” continued Perry. “We’re going to have to play our best game of the season to get a win there too. But I think that any game here on out, we have the opportunity to win. It’s just going to come down to limiting our mental mistakes and do exactly what we know we need to do to win games.”
And if they can’t pull it off, “we’re going to have an even worse taste in our mouth and a sour stomach because we knew we let one get away,” Perry said.
The Viks travel to Junction City on Friday, where the game starts at 5:45 p.m., then will host Cottage Grove for a rematch at Glenn Butler Court next Tuesday.