Prep Basketball Roundup 1-19-2012

— Alex Shoemaker and Sam Finley, EDN Sports

Sheldon Heating Up, Springfield Rebuilding

The Sheldon Irish could be the hottest team in OSAA basketball. After a shaky 2-4 start,  they’ve bounced back big by winning seven of their last eight (with the only loss coming at Lincoln on Saturday).  With all the talent on the Sheldon roster, it seemed obvious that they would eventually return to winning form.

On Thursday at Springfield, the Irish cruised for an easy 69-49 win with their athleticism fully on display. Despite a poor free throw shooting night by the Irish, only converting 13-of-22 attempts, their ability to drive the lane and convert on second and third shot opportunities buried the Millers quickly.

“I didn’t want to get into a shooting contest with them,” said Irish head basketball coach Ron Lampe about Thursday’s victory.  “We didn’t shoot well in the first half – just 9/24 from the field. We stepped it up in the second half and played better as a team.”

The Irish did just that. With a 31-21 lead, Sheldon went on a 10-5 run to open the third quarter to extend the lead to 15 points. In order to try and stop the bleeding, Springfield coach Grant McHill pulled all five players out and sent in five reserve players. The switch initially caught the Irish off-guard, as Springfield moved from relying on long-range shots all game to a more high-tempo offense and aggressive defense that forced numerous Irish turnovers. They went on an 8-2 run to close out the 3rd quarter. But Sheldon exploded offensively in the final quarter for 28 points, draining nearly every shot they took. Senior Dale Baker finished with a game high 24 points and was huge defensively with multiple blocks.

The 9 -5 Irish are in a solid position to make a run in the OSAA 6A playoffs this spring, and Lampe thinks he knows why it took awhile to get things right.

“Football,” said Lampe. “About 10 of our guys  play football.  We had fewer practices, fewer reps than everyone else. We’re starting to get on track.”

As for the 2-10 Millers, this is a rebuilding period.  With no Seniors starting, including a freshman starting at point guard, this team won’t have a lot to play for this season. But there’s always next year.

Churchill Is Ready For A Big Run but North Has A Tough Road Ahead

The Churchill Lancers defeated the North Eugene Highlanders 60-46 on Saturday in a game that was closer than the score would suggest. The teams traded baskets for the first three quarters with Churchill pulling away with the win in the fourth quarter.

While the Lancers dominated down low, what won the game for them was their ability to shoot the ball from the 3-point range. They hit seven three pointers in the game, five of them coming from junior guard Emanuel Morgan.  He finished the game with 22 points.What makes the Lancers so dangerous is that anyone one the team is willing and does shoot long-range shots. They play a style of basketball reminiscent of the Oregon Ducks from 2007 when they used a run and gun style of play. The guards, both Emanuel and Malik Morgan as well as senior Aaron Ingram are exceptional. They can drive into the paint and either dish it off down low, pass out to an open shooter in the corner or take it hard for a layup.

“We play hard,” said head coach Kelly Bokn. “We’re a tough team – a physical team.”

At their peak playing ability, the Lancers are nearly unbeatable. Meanwhile, the Highlanders are the most experienced and “aged” team in OSAA basketball. All five of their starters are seniors, and only four players on the team are not seniors. What makes North dangerous is that they don’t have one player they solely rely on. Austin Sand and Andrew Moore are both phenomenal guards, and Kyle Giubbini and Taylor Ingram are great post players.

At 6-8, with huge a win over Marist earlier in the year, it’s hard to fully make out this team. They have the potential to go on a huge run into the playoffs, but they have a difficult schedule ahead with rematches against Marist, Sheldon and Churchill.  (A 60-45 loss at Marshfield on Tuesday didn’t help matters).The Lancers, on the other hand, are already getting geared up for a playoff push. After a 91-57 win against Springfield on Tuesday,  their overall record is 13-2. Now comes a big test on Thursday. They’ll play at Sheldon in what is probably the top game in the state this week.Both teams like to attack the paint and get their opponents into early foul trouble, so look for a lot of turnovers, steals and free throws in the contest. The matchup of Churchill’s Ingram and Sheldon’s Connor Strahm will be the matchup to watch.

“We believe in ourselves,” said Bokn. “Let’s see how far we can go.”

Games To Watch For This Week

  • Churchill at Sheldon:  As stated above, this is probably the game of the week. Two of the best teams in the state will go at it Thursday evening.  Tipoff is set for 7pm.
  • Thurston at Marist:  A case of two schools heading in opposite directions on Thursday night. The Colts are struggling this year with a 4-10 record.  On the other side of the coin,  Marist sits at 9-5, and is looking to assure themselves a playoff trip. Tipoff is at 7pm.
  • Willamette at North Eugene: The Wolverines and Highlanders are batting on Thursday to salvage their seasons.  Willamette (6-9) and North Eugene (6-8) both have losing records, but the OSAA playoffs are not out of reach for either team. It’ll simply require a little luck and a lot of wins.  Tipoff is scheduled for 7pm.
  • Lincoln at South Eugene: Can the Axemen catch a break? No.  South Eugene (2-12) got hammered by Sheldon 90-39 this past Tuesday night, and the Lincoln Cardinals won’t make life any easier on Friday evening.  True, Lincoln has an overall 8-9 record, but they’re coming off two consecutive wins against Sheldon and Thurston.  Tipoff is at 5:30pm.
  • Marshfield at Sheldon:  A few days after the Irish host Churchill, they’ll face a stiff challenge on Tuesday.  The 9-5 Marshfield Pirates are coming to town, and will probably have momentum after they play at Springfield on on Thursday. Not saying Springfield won’t win against Marshfield, but it’s unlikely they will.  Could be a pivotal game for both teams. Tipoff is at 7pm.

Sam Finley is a local sports writer and enthusiast. He is a feature writer for Eugene Magazine and a for hire freelance writer. Sam can be reached at [email protected]

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