EUGENE — In the 2014 Friday Night Blitz preview special, the KEZI 9 Sports team looks ahead to the upcoming high school football season. We take you to 12 different Western Oregon high schools, get perspective from the Register-Guard’s Ben Schorzman, and reveal our Friday Night Blitz game of the week live broadcast schedule.
The South Eugene Axemen squandered control of their own destiny for the Special District 2 conference championship title in their 60-62 loss to the Thurston Colts at home on Tuesday night. The Colts took an early lead and fended off quarterly Axemen comebacks to secure a victory in the final seconds.
Thurston senior F Bendin Quinn delivered a sensational performance, scoring 23 points on 11-14 shooting. The Axemen simply couldn’t keep track of Quinn, whose teammates incessantly found him in the paint, where he finished with surgeon-like precision.
“He’s good. When he’s patient he actually gets more. He took some good shots and made some big plays. I’m really proud of him,” Thurston head coach Doug Piquette said.
South Eugene won the turnover battle 17-11 and grabbed nine more offensive rebounds than Thurston, but struggled mightily to put the ball through the nylon early, and couldn’t cover their tracks later on.
In fact, the Colts played their best basketball in the first few minutes of the game. They moved the ball with seamless-precision and shot the ball proficiently while containing the Axemen on the other end. Thurston took a 21-9 lead at the end of the first quarter.
“Any time you play catchup you use up a lot more energy. We’re not a team built for a lot of full court stuff. So that limits what we can do because we can’t dictate tempo,” South Eugene head coach Don Brown said.
Despite going on a 6-0 run early in the second quarter, South Eugene couldn’t sustain momentum. The Axemen fell into a scoring drought and only managed to accumulate two more points the rest of the quarter after their initial run.
In fact, Quinn scored 18 first half points compared to just 17 for South Eugene. Thurston led 30-17 at halftime.
Arguably the Axemen’s two best players, PG Mason Green-Richards and F Eli Lininger, only combined to score six first half points, but stepped up and ignited multiple Axemen runs in half two.
The Axemen played with controlled tenacity in the second half and scored 13 points in the first three minutes of the third quarter. After cutting the lead to two and with Colts Star Quinn resting on the pine, it looked like South Eugene was going to take their first lead of the game.
“We attacked the basket better. In the first half we settled for jump shots and didn’t go to the basket very hard,” Brown said.
“Where we get in trouble is when we either turn the ball over or take a bad shot and they come down and cash in,” Piquette added.
However, F Carson Cook proved Thurston to be more than a one trick pony. Cook knocked down five open jumpers in the second half and finished the game with 18 points. The Colts went on a 13-0 run and finished the quarter up 47-37.
Green-Richards and Lininger scored 16 points a piece on the night and led yet another comeback that brought the Thurston lead to just two with seven seconds remaining. However, they were forced to send Carson to the free-throw line. Carson’s shooting stroke didn’t fail him, and with a four point deficit, time simply ran out for the Axemen.
“It shows we’ve grown. Thurston played well enough to beat us by 30. Our mental toughness is getting better, but we need that mental toughness to lead us going into the game rather than during the game,” Brown said.
“Too many people made mental errors, but hey that’s a big win for us on the road. We’ve won here once or twice in the last ten years, so that’s a big deal for us,” Piquette added.
At 4-3 in conference, South Eugene would have to defeat Grant in Portland on Friday and Sheldon must lose to Willamette at home for the Irish to potentially have to share the conference title with the Axemen. Though South Eugene is in a bit of a hole, considering Willamette’s victory over Thurston earlier this year, Brown doesn’t consider their title hopes to be buried quite yet.
‘We’ve got another bite at the cherry for a conference championship. We go up to Grant on the road to see what we’re made of. Maybe that is the kind of challenge that we need right now.”
South Eugene High head coach Chris Miller wasn’t shy with his critiques when his players gathered around him for a post-game meeting Friday.
Miller was “sick and tired” of his players missing practices in past weeks, and assessed his players’ drops, holding penalties and other mistakes with this issue.
The South Eugene Axemen (2-4, 0-4) continued their tough start to the southwest division season, falling 31-14 to the Grants Pass Cavemen (4-2, 3-1).
“We play like we practice. We got guys missing practices all week, we make the same mistake in games that we do in practice,” Miller said. “This culture over here, it’s been ok for guys to miss practice.”
Yep, we’re talking about practice.
After two huge wins to open the season, South Eugene has had four bad losses in the last four weeks. SEHS opened the losing streak with a 49-7 drubbing at the hands of Sheldon and have lost each by double digits.
The Axemen had a slow start to this one, and gave up 21 straight points to their visitors who used big plays and solid defense to stay ahead. After Grants Pass scored on its first drive, South Eugene marched back and looked prime to answer, but a bad snap on fourth down at the Cavemen 28 forced a turnover on downs.
South Eugene got the ball back with just over 2 minutes left in the first quarter, but another strong drive fell short and 4th and long forced a punt. Grants Pass took that possession all the way down for another scoring drive, before getting the ball back two plays later when previously spotless SEHS QB Ray Roundtree threw his only pick.
With about 3 minutes left in the half, and three plays after the pick, GPHS was up 21-0.
Things turned around a bit when a Cavemen field goal attempt got blocked to end the half. South Eugene got the ball to start the second half and finished a successful drive with a Roundtree touchdown pass to Maliek Inocencio to cut the Grants Pass lead to 21-7.
Roundtree had an excellent second half to finish the game with a respectable 16-for-32 for 149, one interception against one touchdown. He added 41 rushing yards on 8 attempts, with a couple long scrambles to keep the Axemen in business on a couple of drives.
However, the Cavemen were too much over the next nine minutes as they ripped off ten straight points to end their scoring night and lead 31-7. Javan Appling was exceptional on this stretch for Grants Pass, completing all four of his passes and accounting for 37 of his team’s yards in those two possessions.
Roundtree and Quinn Cota answered on the next drive, starting from the 33 and picking up big chunks of yards. The touchdown for Cota would come a little late, though as the drive took up 5 minutes and left them with just 5:53, trailing 31-14.
Cota was the workhorse, picking up 62 yards on 19 carries, scoring one touchdown. Cota also caught one pass for six yards.
Grants Pass fumbled on their very next play, leaving one shot for a very distant comeback. Roundtree was 1-for-3 on that final South Eugene drive and picked up just 8 yards on a QB keeper, tossing an incompletion that gave Grants Pass the ball with 4:21 to go.
It was too little, too late for the Axemen, and came down to a rough start and players shooting themselves in the foot early. When all was said and done, the 21-point first-half advantage was too much to overcome.
“We got good plays, we had good stuff. We had Connor Still running down the sideline uncovered, we threw it over his head,” Miller said. “At some point in time, you gotta be accountable; you gotta do your job, and you gotta show up and you gotta go to practice. It’s apparent, it’s showing.”
South Eugene has three games left on the season. The Axemen travel to North Medford next Friday and Miller is not accepting many excuses for his players not having a productive practice week.
The Sheldon Irish football team (2-1) didn’t have a hangover after a tough loss last week, bouncing back and taking their frustrations out on the South Eugene Axemen (2-1).Prints from this game are available upon request – contact [email protected] for more information.
Yes, the win was big. When you’ve won two games in three years like the South Eugene Axemen, one of those being a forfeit, a victory on the football field merits a celebration. So that’s what they did Friday night at South Eugene High’s Morrow Field. The Axemen defeated Churchill High, 35-14, in the season opener for both teams, and, after adhering to the public address announcer’s request to wait for the teams to shake hands, the fans engulfed the field. They ran, they jumped, they smiled.
Not since the fifth game of the 2010 season, a 34-28 win over Crater, has South Eugene won a game on the football field, and the last time the Axemen won a season opener was in 2009. “No one’s going to forget this,” Axemen senior defensive lineman Quinton Richardson said. “We had a forfeit (win in 2011), but I don’t count it. This is my first we-scored-more-than-them, we-played-better-than-them win. It felt so right. It felt as if this happened before. It was the weirdest feeling.”
It was the feeling South Eugene head coach Chris Miller hoped to revive when he took over the 6A program this year. The former Oregon and NFL quarterback had coached at South Eugene for five years before leaving after the 2006 season. Entering this year, Miller set three targets for this team: be competitive, earn respect, win the first game. “We competed like crazy. They earned my respect, and I think they earned the respect of the community, our fans and their parents,” Miller said. “So three-for-three’s a good start.”
The Axemen opened the game against their 5A opponent with a 13-play scoring drive, followed by an interception returned for a touchdown by the defense to jump ahead 13-0 with 4:27 left in the first quarter. A Churchill pass-interference penalty on a fourth down extended the initial drive for South Eugene, and the touchdown also came on a fourth-down play. On a play that appeared to have broken down, junior quarterback Liam Duncan rolled left and tossed a 23-yard touchdown pass to senior Thayne Kollmorgen. The extra-point kick, also by Kollmorgen, put South Eugene up 7-0.
Then on the Lancers’ third offensive play of the game, junior linebacker John Saylor intercepted a Churchill pass and worked his way past defenders into the end zone for another touchdown. The extra-point kick failed, putting the Axemen ahead 13-0. “It set the tone for the entire game because we had just scored on offense, and it was just, ‘What can our defense do?'” Richardson said. “We fired off, and he had an amazing run.”
“We didn’t break. We didn’t stop. We just stayed together.”
After forcing Churchill to punt for the second time in the game, South Eugene’s quarterback duo of Duncan and sophomore Ray Roundtree went to work. Roundtree hit senior tight end Connor Still for a 46-yard reception that put them 20 yards from the end zone. Three plays later, Duncan found Still for a 13-yard touchdown pass. South Eugene forced Churchill to punt again, and went on a 14-play drive that ended with Roundtree throwing a 5-yard touchdown to Still. The Axemen went up 27-0. “We just couldn’t handle (Still),” Churchill head coach Darrell Mehl said. “Our little safeties on that big guy? It was a tough match-up. We knew that going in.”
Still finished the game with six receptions for 87 yards and two touchdown catches. Roundtree completed 9-of-15 passes for 134 yards and 2 TD passes. In addition to quarterback, Duncan played a significant role as a receiver and finished with 131 yards on offense (59 passing, 32 running and 40 receiving).
Churchill put up its first points of the game on its final drive of the first half. The score came when sophomore quarterback Justin Kearney connected with senior receiver Mike Monroy for a 26-yard pass.
South Eugene strained offensively in the second half, but the defense held Churchill off by forcing punts and with a substantive fourth-down stop with the Lancers on the 15-yard line early in the third quarter. Churchill senior linebacker Mitch Hindrum blocked a South Eugene punt, which set the Lancers up at the 14-yard line. Two plays later, Monroy ran 10 yards for Churchill’s final score. The Axemen lead was cut to 27-14 with 9:02 left.
“The barn door flew open, and we did get it closed,” Mehl said. “We had momentum (at that point). I almost had us onside kick, but I was thinking, ‘Our defense was playing well – finally. We’ll make a stop and if we score again, we can cut the lead to six points.’ It was sloppy. We didn’t execute what we needed to execute.”
“We gave them all kinds of opportunities, extra chances. I knew (South Eugene) was going to be a little bit better anyway, and I knew Chris is a good football coach. We made some coaching mistakes. Our players didn’t play as well as I hoped, but I knew we were going to have trouble because of our youth.”
The Axemen responded to the Lancers’ score with a lengthy drive that ended with a 4-yard touchdown run by Duncan at 4:40 in the fourth quarter. That and a two-point conversion by Kollmorgen solidified the win for South Eugene and their new coach. “As a head coach you have a lot of questions,” Miller said. “You’re like, ‘I hope they can.’ And we preached all week about getting off to a fast start. So even though that first drive was funky, we scored and that was huge. Then we got a turnover and went up 13-0. But in football there are ebbs and flows. And I was really proud of how these guys answered the bell and put the nail in the coffin on the last drive.”
For Churchill, Kearney finished with 80 yards rushing and 89 yards passing on 9-of-14 passes. Sophomore receiver Junior Perez had four receptions for 49 yards, and Monroy had 26 yards receiving and 30 rushing with two touchdowns. “I thought we’d play better and harder,” Mehl said. “I’m not going to chuck in the towel yet. I think we have some players that can play. We just need to do a better job of coaching every position. We have lots of room for improvement in every area.”
Certainly he wants them to win games. It’s foremost in the minds of all Oregon high school football coaches who opened the first week of two-a-day practices this Monday. But as Chris Miller embarks on his second time as the head football coach at South Eugene High School, the former NFL and Oregon quarterback recognizes several factors need to be established at a school that’s won one game in three years before anyone can concern themselves with victories. Miller describes his two simple goals for his players: “One is to learn how to compete…They haven’t been pushed. The bar hasn’t been set really high. We’re setting that bar high. And, two, is to earn respect. These kids were laughed at. These kids were made fun of. When people look at their schedule, they think, ‘Oh, here’s South. Here’s an easy one. We’ll kill them.’ So I want these kids to earn respect so when they walk around these hallways or around town and someone sees them wearing a South Eugene football shirt, people think, ‘Oh, South Eugene. Those guys are playing tough over there.'”
Miller coached the South Eugene Axemen for three years, from 2002-2006. After a rough1-8 first season, his teams finished 30-13 and made the playoffs in four of the five years. The respect for Axemen football has collapsed over the last three years. In 2012, South Eugene lost all 10 games, with only two close scores, a 48-42 loss to Willamette and a 28-21 defeat by Thurston. The team’s last win on the field came in 2010 (although they won a game by forfeit in 2011).
Entering his 11th year as a coach, Miller returns to South Eugene after working three years as the quarterback coach for the Arizona Cardinals. His team returns 10 returning starters. On offense, five starting players return from last year: Michael Bennett (junior, offensive lineman), Liam Duncan (jr., quarterback), Thayne Kollmorgen (sr., wide receiver), Quinton Richardson (senior, offensive lineman), and Conner Still (sr., tight end). Defensively, five starters are back: CJ Hodgson (sr., safety), Michael Selvan (sr., safety), Bennett (defensive line), Still (defensive line and linebacker), and Richardson (defensive line).
“We’re going to run everything on offense,” Miller said. “We’re going to run whatever fits. One thing about me is I’ve seen about every play run imaginable known to man because in the NFL you can access every single play (digitally). So there’s no secrets. I have a got a big grab bag of plays we can draw from, and I’m going to run what fits our personnel and our kids. Some people are locked into schemes. There are numerous schemes that fit our personnel, and that’s yet to be determined.”
The transition to a new coach includes new coaches. Miller has brought with him a crew of former players and coaches to his locker room. New to the team are former Oregon Duck and NFL running back Dino Philyaw (assistant head coach in charge of running backs); former Churchill defensive coordinator and Portland State football and basketball player Kevin Leonard (assistant head coach/defensive coordinator); former South Eugene High and Southern Oregon University player Alex Morrison (offensive line coach and assistant defensive line coach); and former South Eugene High receiver and cornerback Logan Beal (wide receiver and defensive back coach/strength and conditioning. Miller retained three coaches from last year’s team: Sean Emrick (assistant coach – quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers); Don Oakerson (defensive line coach); and Karsten Tindal (assistant coach – offensive and defensive lines).
The coaches are working with about 75 players this year, compared to the 52 to 54 who turned out last year. Miller characterizes his team as green to football and the culture he’s attempting to foster. “The culture around here has been trying hard and being close is OK,” he said. “…Football’s a game you just can’t go through the motions. Guys have to love it. That’s the number one thing we’re trying to instill in these kids. This is a special game. This is a game about life lessons. It’s a game about family, having your brother’s back. These guys haven’t been taught. They don’t know that. Not everyone’s going to love the game at the same level. But, still, how you play football and how you compete translates directly to the classroom here at South, translates directly to life, when you go to college. When you get out of college, 50 percent of college graduates can’t find a job. You better go out there and be special and find a way to compete so you can find work.”
There will be much work to be done. His initial focus with his players has been the fundamentals. The coaches have stressed basics, things like knowing where to line up, knowing that, as a receiver or tight end, you go when the ball moves and not on the snap count. Miller said he and his staff have assumed the players knew nothing and have been teaching everything. “They’re eager, they’re anxious,” Miller said. “They want to learn…They’re working hard. We have some bullets in the gun. We have some weapons. We’re not going to be shooting blanks.”
As a team in the 6A Southwest Conference, the Axemen will have their share of challenges, including defending 6A state champion Sheldon. Miller is a 1983 graduate of Sheldon and was drafted in the first round by the Atlanta Falcons in 1987. He played 10 years in the NFL with the Falcons, St. Louis Rams and Denver Broncos before being named to the 2004 Class of the Oregon Sports Hall of Fame. This year, though, he begins a second attempt at reviving South Eugene football. And while competing and earning respect are the main targets for this group, winning isn’t too far behind. “Win our first game. That’s our third goal,” Miller said. “(South Eugene’s) won one game in three years, so if we win one, were off to a good start.”
South Eugene Football Schedule (games start at 7 p.m.):
- Aug. 30 – Churchill
- Sept. 6 – at Willamette
- Sept. 13 – at Sheldon
- Sept. 20 – South Medford
- Sept. 27 – at Roseburg
- Oct. 4 – Grants Pass
- Oct. 11 – at North Medford
- Oct. 18 – Crater
- Oct. 25 – at Thrust
— Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports
Lancers Take The Rematch Against Irish
Last Friday’s game definitely lived up to the hype. As was to be expected, this Churchill-Sheldon rematch shared all the excitement of their buzzer-beater match a month ago. Unlike the last time, however, it was the Lancers celebrating at the end with a 75-73 win over the Irish in overtime.
The 17-7 (14-2) Irish and 20-4 (13-3) Lancers have been the best two teams in the Midwestern League, and their two contests have been decided by a total of three points.
Sheldon came away victorious in the first contest, a 62-61 Dillon Miller deep half-court buzzer-beater, but with the Lancers riding the emotions of the home crowd and would not be denied. The Irish had a final possession where they could have tied the game and forced a second overtime, but it wasn’t to be.
“It was a great defensive stand,” said Churchill guard Aaron Ingram about his game-clinching steal. “I saw the ball and grabbed it. Then I just dribbled out the clock. A great team win.”
Ingram finished the contest with 10 points, with most of his contributions coming on assists and defense.
Churchill extended their lead to 15 in the third quarter, and the game appeared to be all but out of reach. However, a 10-0 run by the Irish to start the fourth quarter decimated the Lancers’ lead and the game was suddenly tied 55-55.
“We don’t pay attention to the scoreboard,” said Churchill head coach Kelly Bokn about the shifts in momentum. “Whether we’re up or down, we keep with our game plan. We lost our lead pretty quickly, and the credit goes to Sheldon. But we were able to keep the game close and come out with a W in OT.”
Churchill was led by David Shedrick who had 18 points, as well as 16 from Emmanuel Morgan. Sheldon was led by the 18 points from point guard Dillon Miller and the 16 points from forward Dale Baker.
With the regular season now finished, both the Irish (6A) and Lancers (5A) can work on preparing for the OSAA playoffs, hopefully bringing a state championship back to Eugene.
The Irish graduate eight players after this season including three starters (Miller, guard Joe Bando, and Baker). Churchill only loses two seniors after this year (Ingram and backup Andrew Tupper).
Both teams have legitimate shots of making a deep run in the playoffs.
“I think we can go far,” said Ingram. “Obviously it’s just one day at a time, one practice at a time. We believe in each other. We can go far. We just need to keep practicing and not slow down.”
The coaching staff shares Ingram’s confidence and wants to make sure the team keeps focused on the task at hand.
“We don’t want to look to far ahead of ourselves,” said Bokn. “One game at a time. Anything can happen in any game. We don’t want to be caught off guard. There are a lot of good teams, and we think we can compete with the best.”
Around The Rest Of The League:
Marist Spartans: 13-10
The Spartans have finished their up-and-down season with maybe their most frustrating loss of the season. They lost three of their last four games and suffered a 45-26 blowout loss at Thurston in the finale.
North Eugene Highlanders: 9-14
North’s season is officially over, and the can rest their hats on a nice 59-51 victory over Willamette last Friday. It appeared the Highlanders would push for a playoff spot, but a 3-8 finish to the season put a damper on that.
South Eugene Axemen: 4-20
South’s horrific season is finally over. A 1-5 record over their past six games was actually an improvement on average for the season as a whole. The Axemen fell 81-47 last Friday in their season finale at Grant.
Willamette Wolverines: 8-16
The theme of the Wolverines’ season has been playing where you’re comfortable makes all the difference. Their home record of 4-6 is respectable, while their road record of 2-9 killed their postseason chances. With a young roster, the Wolverines can look to next year.
— Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports
Generals Conquer Irish At Home, Snapping Sheldon’s Eight Game Streak
After a colossal 15-2 deficit against Grant, Sheldon mounted a huge comeback spanning the rest of the game. Unfortunately for the Irish, it wasn’t enough as they fell just short the 6A powerhouse Generals 59-55 last Friday night.
The Irish started the game incredibly shaky, especially point guard Dillon Miller who scored just three points in the first three quarters. Shots weren’t falling, and careless turnovers led to easy fast break points for Grant. That’s why it looked like the Generals were going to run away with it early.
The game changed midway through the first quarter when Sheldon trailed by 13. Big man Dale Baker (11 points) converted an old-fashioned three point play, and Grant senior Tre Battle was called for a technical foul. Sheldon’s Jordan Alexander then nailed both free throws to cut the deficit to just eight.
Sheldon’s Connor Strahm did not put up his normally stellar numbers. He scored just 11 points, and was off on several shots.
“It was an off night,” said Strahm. “I think everybody was off. We weren’t playing good basketball. We can play better than this.”
The Irish could not stop Grant forward Chris Wells who finished the game with a team high 22 points. He scored the majority of his points in the key, as well as shooting 6-of-8 from the free throw line.
“We can’t get into foul trouble like that,” said Lampe. “They were making their shots and made us pay for putting them on the line. Those are free points.”
Sheldon bounced back on Tuesday with a 76-56 win at home against South Eugene. The Grant defeat was the first and only home loss of the 2011-12 season for the Irish, who finished with a home record of 9-1.
At 17-6, the Irish play their final game at Churchill on Friday night. Look for coverage of that game next Wednesday at Eugene Daily News.
Around The Rim: What’s Up With The Rest Of The Schools
At 19-4, the Lancers are one of the most exciting prep teams in the Eugene area. Churchill has a prefect 8-0 home record this season, with just one game remaining. Churchill won both of their games this past week, blowing out North Eugene 94-54 and Springfield 68-44. They’ll end the regular season with a big playoff test when Sheldon visits on Friday.
The 13-9 Spartans had an up-and-down week, losing 53-49 at Marshfield on Friday but bouncing back with a 61-58 victory over Willamette on Tuesday. Marist’s final game before the postseason is at Thurston on Friday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM.
North Eugene Highlanders:
The Highlanders’ record has fallen to 8-14 after back-to-back losses to Churchill and Marshfield this past week. North’s final game is Friday night at Willamette with only pride on the line.
South Eugene Axemen:
With a 4-19 record, it’s safe to say that the Axemen have been the worst prep team in the Eugene area. This year, 14 of the Axemen’s 19 losses have been by double digits. Their season comes to a close on Friday at Grant. A win is almost out of the question, but keeping the game close could be a moral victory.
Willamette needed to come away with two wins over the past week, and unfortunately they came up short in both contests. Following a 58-50 loss at Thurston, the Wolverines lost their next game at Marist as well. The Wolverines now sit at 8-15 with their final game at home against North Eugene on Friday.
Miller finished the game with 23 points, and contributed in all facets of the game.At his vital point guard position, essentially deciding the tempo of the entire offense, Miller has been instrumental in the huge surge of the Irish this season.Head coach Ron Lampe is very happy with the play of his senior captain.“Miller has been great,” said Lampe after the game. “He does everything I ask and more. He’s a great team player and we’re lucky to have him.”
The game was close through a quarter and a half when senior guard Sean Bellotti came up with a big block that completely changed the momentum of the game. Bellotti, son of former Oregon head football coach Mike Bellotti, has been a great contributor coming off of the bench.
For the Spartans, their 12-8 record has them in the 5A tournament, but not at a very high seed. With two games this week against Marshfield (Friday) and Willamette (Tuesday), Marist could make a serious push with two likely victories.
Around the Rest of the League:
Churchill bounced back from a disappointing loss to Marshfield and swept their next three games in blowout fashion (margin of 30 points per game). They cruised to winsover Willamette, Thurston, and Marist. The 17-4 Lancers are playoff bound and can rest for the next two weeks before the playoffs. Churchill ranks No. 3 in 5A, and will play North Eugene and Springfield this week.North Eugene Highlanders:
This was another bad week for South as they lost all three of their games. Their 3-18 record and weak strength of schedule has them ranked 38th out of 43 teams in the 6A league.The Axemen will face Springfield and Sheldon this week, and they would do well to win one more game this season for momentum going into the 2012-13 campaign.Willamette Wolverines:
The 8-13 Wolverines are in a similar position as North Eugene. Willamette ranks a disappointing 26th in the 5A rankings, due to their poor OWP (opponent winning percentage).After an 86-41 blowout loss to Churchill on Thursday, the Wolverines bounced back with a much needed win over Marshfield. The Wolverines play at Thurston on Friday and at Marist on Tuesday. They need to win both for playoff hopes and overall pride.Prep Game Of The Week:EDN will be live-blogging again. This time, we’ll be at Sheldon on Friday night, when the Irish face the visting Grant Generals. The game is a potential playoff preview of sorts, so stop by the website around 7pm to catch all the action.
— Alex Shoemaker, EDN
Game Of The Week: Sheldon Vs. Willamette
Irish point guard Connor Strahm was highly instrumental in the win, forcing numerous steals and pushing the ball in fast break situations.
“I was feeling it tonight,” said Strahm. “It was a great team effort. We’re playing really good basketball right now and I like the way we’re playing. This team is well rounded and we work off of each other.”Senior captain Dillon Miller also had a big game, leading the Irish in assists.
Sheldon uses an effective fast-pace offense that has the ability to wear down teams late in contests, as was the case against Willamette. With four of the five Irish starters also playing significant roles on the football team, conditioning is part of their identity.
“We’re fast down the court,” said Strahm. “We can outrun teams and play that way all game long. We don’t tire out. Coach Lampe has us ready to play each game.”
Willamette looked depleted in the second half, losing costly possessions on turnovers or miscommunication. The Wolverines held onto the ball too long on consecutive series in the third quarter, leading to forced shots at the buzzer. “Our defense won us the game,” said Lampe. “We weren’t shooting well in the first half, but stepped it up in the second.”
Sheldon also took care of business on Tuesday night, defeating the Thurston Colts 50-37 at home. The Irish are in fantastic shape to close out the season in the next six games. A deep playoff run seems to be in the works. Their next game is this Thursday at Marist.
As for Willamette, their season has just about run its course. With five games remaining, the Wolverines can hope to close things out on a positive note, and begin working on next year. Their next game is at Churchill on Thursday.One More Note On Sheldon At Marist
The Sheldon/Willamette contest has been selected as EDN’s Prep Game Of The Week. Head over to our website at 7pm on Thursday, and catch all the action on the live blog. Should be a good time.Around the League
The Lancers only had one game this week, a 70-63 loss at Marshfield on Tuesday. The setback brought their record to 14-4. Churchill has lost two of its last three games, and have not had the same look they had earlier in the season.The Lancers will make the postseason, but going in with positive momentum is crucial. Their next game is Thursday night when they host the Willamette Wolverines.
Marist’s week was a perfect representation of their season as a whole. The Spartans lost a 62-48 game at home against an inferior North Eugene squad on Friday night. On Tuesday, however, they bounced back with a big 87-58 win over Springfield.
This team is nearly impossible to figure out, and looks different each time they take the court. Marist may have the toughest week of their season coming up.
They start their stretch on Thursday hosting Sheldon. Two nights later, the Spartans will visit South Eugene. Marist returns home against Churchill this coming Tuesday. The goal should be to win at least two of those three games.
North Eugene Highlanders:
The Highlanders only played one game this week and made it count. They shocked the world with a 62-48 blowout upset over Marist. Their next game is on Thursday at Springfield.
South Eugene Axemen:
Normally winning one of two games in a week isn’t something to cheer about. But for the 3-15 South Eugene Axemen, it is a cause for celebration. After a 67-50 blowout loss at Marshfield on Thursday, the Axemen bounced back with a 39-35 win over Willamette at home.
The win marked South’s first home win of the season, giving the fans something to take from the season. They do have a busy week ahead with there games upcoming, the first of which is a 7pm tip off against Thurston on Thursday.