As winter sports reach their midseason checkpoints, the Clatskanie Middle High School varsity girls yet again find themselves in prime position to make another state tournament run. As the Lady Tigers make that playoff run, the Clatskanie wrestling team and boys basketball team find themselves on the outside looking in.
Fresh off of an 85-34 victory over Taft on Tuesday night, the Lady Tigers are ranked #1 in the state, with an overall record of 14-2. Throughout the first 16 games of the season, the Lady Tigers have beaten:
- 3A #8 Santiam Christian (64-56) and (65-31)
- 2A #3 Kennedy (60-56)
- 3A #10 Yamhill-Carlton (69-19)
- 3A #9 Pleasant Hill (68-41)
- 4A #9 Molalla (69-49)
- 3A #2 Sutherlin (69-65 in OT)
And the only losses on the year for Clatskanie:
- 4A #5 La Grande (48-51)
- 3A #3 Willamina (39-40)
Two games on on the schedule for Clatskanie that go deeper than just the contests are Willamina and Sutherlin. Sutherlin, who Clatskanie is projected to face in the state championship game, and Willamina, who they’ll have to go through to win the Coastal Range League.
Leading the Lady Tigers this season is the first team all-state junior duo of Olivia Sprague and Shelby Blodgett. Blodgett is averaging a team-high 22 points a game along with 18 rebounds and 5 assists. Sprague is averaging 21 points along with 6 rebounds and 5 assists/steals per game.
Among others to mention, Junior Kaity Sizemore averages 6 points and 7 rebounds per game. Sizemore also scored a career-high 21 against #2 Sutherlin. Junior Alexis Smith is averaging 6 points per game but added a career-high 23 points against Taft Tuesday night.
Coach John Blodgett said the team still must find consistently.
“We have been good at times and not so good at times,” he said. “We are learning to adjust to how people are playing us so far, and we always get everyone’s best shot. We are starting to shoot the ball better as a team, and our defensive intensity is getting better.
Blodgett said the team’s schedule has been challenging, with long periods between games.
“So our game shape conditioning has been an issue but is improving,” he said. “Our priority is defense, and we will go as far as our defensive effort and execution take us.”
Sprague said she felt good about where the team is at this point in the season.
“I believe we are progressing similarly to last year,” Sprague said. “Each day at practice, we are working on improving both sides of the ball. As for the team, we could benefit from learning each other’s strengths and weaknesses. For myself, I would like to tighten my fundamentals in all aspects, and more specifically, decision making and overall efficiency.”
The Lady Tigers should win out, and expect a deep run into the playoffs. Being the #1 seed and having “a target on their back” from winning state last year, has motivated the team. The experience gained over the past two seasons makes Clatskanie the favorite to win back-to-back state titles.
Although the 2-16 start to the season hasn’t been what the Clatskanie Middle High School varsity boys team wanted, they still find themselves with a chance to make playoffs.
Sitting at 1-3 in league, if the season ended today, they’d have to win three league playoff games to make the state tournament. However, if they can find a way to knock off Willamina at home or Warrenton on the road, they may be able to clinch the 3rd seed in league.
With the 3rd seed, they’d only have to win two games to make state, and they’d be the hosts of one of them.
“So far, we have had a tough year compared to last season, but I feel there is a lot of room for us to build going into league playoffs,” senior Jack Boothe said “We got our guys, and that’s all we need moving forward. Our team captains/big men are going to be huge for us moving forward, and they have dominated in the last couple of games for us. We are cleaning up the little things and are going to be a team to keep your eyes on moving into the playoffs.”
The Tigers offense is trending in the right direction. Following a 21 point victory at Taft on Tuesday night, their chances to make it to state through the league playoffs is possible. Its possible that the team can compete for a top 3 spot in league.
Typically, the Tigers qualify a few wrestlers for the state meet each year. This season the wrestlers that are ranked by oregonwrestlingforum include:
- Class 106: Freshman Austin Hahn (3-1) ranked #6
- Class 170: Senior Trent Berntsen (17-4) ranked #5 (placed 6th at state last year)
- Class 182: Senior Alvin Roberts (20-7) ranked #5
Freshman Ernesto Rojas Bautista isn’t ranked, but coaches and fellow wrestlers believe he has a real shot at making state, after placing high in a few meets.
On the girl’s side, while there are no ranked wrestlers, Freshman Joss Pember has 10 wins on the season.