State champs: Tough Fox basketball team’s title was years in the making

April 2015 Posted in School, Sports
The Silverton Boys Basketball team took first in the Class 5A tournament on March 12. Photo by Ted Miller.

The Silverton Boys Basketball team took first in the Class 5A tournament on March 12. Photo by Ted Miller.

By James Day

Three games that were won by eight points or less. A first-year head coach, albeit one with previous varsity experience. A blizzard of 3-pointers. The toughness that comes with having three football players in the starting lineup.

It all added up to a memorable run for the Silverton High School boys basketball team in the Class 5A boys basketball tournament. The Foxes, who won the Mid-Willamette Conference title by three games, rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Churchill in the quarterfinals, bombed in 12 3-pointers in the semifinals against top-rated Mountain View and survived a nail-biting defensive struggle in a 33-32 championship game win over Wilsonville.

Delirious Silverton fans mobbed the team, cried and hugged, chanted and snapped pictures as the net was cut down and the team received medals and the trophy.

The Foxes are state champions in boys basketball for the first time since … well, since before there was an Oregon School Activities Association. OSAA records only go back to 1919, but there is a banner in the school gym that notes a 1910 state title. Records compiled by Oregon hoops historian Mark Deuel show the title was in 1909, not 1910.

No matter. It was more than 100 years coming.

“Who knew what could happen,” said Coach Steve Roth, the long-time assistant to Darren Shryock who took over the squad when Shryock left to become the athletic director at Stayton. Roth, who had preceded Shryock as the head coach (1998-2002), “noted that the team had to make a transition” to a new head coach.

“They were disappointed by (Darren’s leaving). I was disappointed. I hoped we could battle for a league title, but I heard some rumbling among the guys about the state tournament. They played with a lot of confidence and really believed that they could win and should win.”

Silverton guard Sam Roth tries to maneuver around Harrison Steiger of Wilsonville Foxes teammate Daniel Larionov moves in to assist. Roth  was named to the all-tournament first team. Photo by Ted Miller

Silverton guard Sam Roth tries to maneuver around Harrison Steiger of Wilsonville Foxes teammate Daniel Larionov moves in to assist. Roth was named to the all-tournament first team. Photo by Ted Miller.

Here is how it happened:

The Foxes trailed 33-25 heading to the fourth quarter in the quarterfinals against Churchill and Mid-Willamette player of the year Sam Roth fouled out with four minutes left. No matter. The Foxes rode unlikely heroes senior Nathan Jamsa (a key three-point play) and junior Blake Cosgrove (six points down the stretch) during a 14-2 closing run that cemented a 46-41 victory.

In the semifinals Silverton faced Mountain View, the state’s No. 1 ranked team. Six Foxes nailed 12 3-pointers, led by sharpshooting flu-ridden sophomore Julian Downey, who bombed in 5 of 7 shots from long range to spark the 59-51 win.

“It was just going in,” Downey told Our Town. “Everything felt normal, and I just played through it (the flu).”

In the championship game Silverton saw a 21-13 lead evaporate amid a withering 9-0 Wilsonville run. But the 3-pointer came to the rescue again. Logan Munson and Sam Roth sank 3-pointers down the stretch and the Foxes held on, helped by late rebounds from Munson and Trevor Côté.

“It’s awesome, hard to describe,” Côté said amid the tears, hugs and pandemonium on the court after the game. “It’s almost surreal. You can’t imagine how it feels to be No. 1.”

Roth, who was tied for third in the tourney with 42 points, received chants of “MVP! MVP” as he helped cut down the net. “It’s beyond words. It’s crazy. I’m speechless,” he said. “We played great defense, like we have all year. I can’t say enough about the guys. It’s awesome.”

“Oh, my God!” Cole Chandler said. “I have no words. We both fought hard. Our strength was our defense and that was theirs, too. 33-32 … I didn’t think that would be the score. We battled. I’m so proud of our guys.”

Blake Cosgrove and Matthew Peters celebrate the moment as the Foxes closed in on the state title. Photo by Ted Miller.

Blake Cosgrove and Matthew Peters celebrate the moment as the Foxes closed in on the state title. Photo by Ted Miller.

“We played our best basketball (in the tournament),” Munson said. “It was so great the way everyone came out to support us.”

Chandler, Munson and Côté all were starters on the Foxes’ football team, which advanced to the 5A title game before losing to Hermiston.

Did the football success carry over?

“Absolutely,” Coach Roth said.  “The blueprint for our success was toughness. That was No. 1.  That’s who we are. You can’t put a value on what was gained by those guys in the weight room. They were so strong. But even more was the mental aspect of that. When you know you’ve put in the work there is an expectation that it is going to pay off. The success in football really carried over to the basketball program.”

Chandler led the team with 24 rebounds and seven assists in the tournament. Munson had seven points and seven rebounds in the semis and seven and six in the title. Côté made a key free throw that helped the Foxes pull away from LaSalle in the round of 16, participated in the barrage of 3-pointers in the semis and had a huge rebound in the final.

Sam Roth was a first-team all-tournament selection, and Downey made the second team. Both will be back next season, along with Cosgrove and starting guard Daniel Larionov.

“I wanted so badly for the guys to do well,” Coach Roth said. “I feel pretty blessed to be able to work with them day after day. And I hope our guys from the past accept some ownership for this. There were years of building the program by Darren and guys buying into the system.

“We got to see the fruit of that work this year in the biggest way possible.”

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