The memories linger: Coach Tal Wold talks about the ‘blueprint’

April 2016 Posted in School, Sports

James DayBy James Day

The magical run by the Silverton High girls basketball squad to the Class 5A title is more than two weeks old, but there still is a buzz in town. Signs are still up congratulating the girls, and the OSAA trophy has not yet been put in the case.

“They kind of turned into the community team,” coach Tal Wold told Our Town in an interview at the school. “People came out and pulled for the kids. They wanted the kids to be successful. It’s unique.”

Indeed. The Foxes brought more fans to Gill Coliseum than any other squad in the girls bracket, with their student section dwarfing that of Corvallis, the hometown team, in the semifinals.

That afterglow is partly a function of HOW the Foxes got it done in Corvallis. With an undefeated season on the line Silverton overcame double-digit deficits on back-to-back nights to score one-point victories against Corvallis and in the title game against Springfield to finish 28-0.

“Wasn’t that fun?” Wold said, then qualified his remarks a bit. “Well, maybe it was fun for the crowd. It’s not always fun for coaches.”

Despite rarely trailing in their first 26 wins, Wold said there was no panic among his players.

“I thought we showed a ton of grit,” Wold said. “There were a lots of people there, we were missing shots, we were down by 10, yet the girls dug in. Nobody got down. They were encouraging each other in the huddle. That’s part of the blueprint. Plus the girls really like each other.”

After an easy win in the quarterfinals against Bend, the Foxes trailed the Spartans by 11 at one point before ending the game on 13-2 run. Alia Parsons’ layup with 5.6 seconds left gave Silverton a 37-36 win in a game that it hadn’t led since it was 2-0.

Aside: I have watched an amazing video of the final sequence (see @petechristopher on Twitter) and must correct earlier Our Town reporting. Hailey Smisek passed the ball to Parsons for the game-winner after Brooke McCarty stole the ball from Corvallis’s Grace Corbin.  In the bedlam I had not noticed McCarty’s pass to Smisek.

The next night it was more of the same as the Foxes again got down by 10 before rallying for a 39-38 win against Springfield. Hannah Munson sparked the comeback by scoring all eight of her points, including two 3-pointers, in the fourth quarter.

Silverton’s bench was nails throughout the tournament. Consider: the Foxes’ reserves outscored those of their three opponents 39-8. In the semifinals and finals Wold used his bench for 91 minutes compared to a combined 31 minutes by Corvallis and Springfield. Four of the top six players in terms of minutes played were from Corvallis and Springfield. The Foxes just wore them down … and then pounced.

“Our 6, 7 and 8 players were a lot better than other team’s 6, 7 and 8,” Wold said, referring to Munson, Elena Smisek and Madison Ulven.

The Foxes also spent huge chunks of the tournament picking other team’s pockets. Silverton committed 27 turnovers in the three games compared to 69 for opponents. Foxes had 43 steals, 18 by Parsons. Both figures led the tourney by wide margins.

A final statistic of note: Silverton was a combined 5-0 this season against the No. 2 (Springfield)  and No. 3 (Corvallis) teams in the state.

“We don’t measure ourselves by the color of the trophy,” said Wold, noting that sticking to the team’s “blueprint” was more important than wins and losses.

“We talked about being the most enthusiastic team, to play with heart and hustle every night. And when the season is done look at the blueprint. Did we do those things?”

All-MWC: The Foxes were well-represented on the all-league squad. Wold repeated as coach of the year. Parsons, who won player of the year honors in 2015, shared the award with Alexandria Vallancey-Martinson of Corvallis. Sophomore post Maggie Roth was named to the first team, sophomore point guard McCarty was a second teamer and junior wing Munson, junior post Kayce McLaughlin and junior wing Smisek received honorable mention.

Boys hoops: I also caught up with Foxes boys coach Steve Roth, whose squad finished 17-8 and came within one game of earning a slot at the Class 5A tournament. Silverton won the title in 2015.

“I did feel like we took most everyone’s best shot,” Roth told Our Town when asked about the pressure of being defending champions. “But I think our own high expectations were, perhaps, even more daunting than our opponents. As a result, it felt like we generally played tight, like we ‘should win,’ instead of playing with confident freedom. Those expectations also weighed on me, and I didn’t do a very good job of releasing my guys from that weight. Even so, I felt like the team persevered and came really close to returning to the state tournament.”

Silverton was 11-3 in the Mid-Willamette Conference, one game behind champion Corvallis. The Foxes lost at Parkrose in the round of 16.

“Our seniors had a great run,” Roth said. “State playoffs each year, including the state championship last year. I hope they leave with fond memories of all the teammates, games, practices, team dinners (and) bus rides … everything that is involved in participation in a team sport like basketball. Our world needs gifted young men like them.”

Looking ahead to next season Roth noted that the JV squad was 21-3 and went undefeated in league play and the freshmen were 18-7.

“We have a lot of good basketball players in the program. Better yet, they are high character guys who are a lot of fun.”

Dance: Silverton took fourth in Class 5A at the OSAA championships March 19 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. The Foxes performed a routine using the John Hiatt tune Have a Little Faith in Me.

Silverton scored 81.28 points, trailing champion Milwaukie (83.11), runner-up Lebanon (82.3) and third-place South Albany (81.39).

The seniors on the roster placed in the top four at state all four years, including a state title in 2014 and a runner-up slot last year. The 2013 squad also finished fourth.

The Foxes have won three state titles under coach Paula Magee (the other two were in 1999 and 2000) and the Foxes have been in the top five for nine consecutive years.

College notes: Here is a look at how Silverton-area athletes fared at Oregon colleges during the winter season:

Zach Gengler, a 6-2 junior guard at Portland State, averaged 7.8 points per game at Portland State. Gengler, a former standout at Silverton, played in all 31 games, starting 24, and led the Vikings in steals (55), free throw percentage (.848) and was second on the squad in 3-pointers with 30. Gengler closed well, scoring in double figures in PSU’s final eight contests.

Toby Roth, another former Foxes hoops star, averaged 7.7 points per game and hit 40 percent of his 3-pointers for Corban University. The 6-2 junior guard, whose season was shortened to 13 games because of injuries, was one of five Warriors players named an NAIA scholar-athlete, which requires a minimum GPA of 3.5.

Former Silverton wrestling standout Izaak Tobin, a redshirt sophomore at Oregon State, compiled a 12-6 record for the Pac-12 Conference champion Beavers at 141 lbs. Tobin took first in his weight at the Clackamas Open and was third in the Mike Clock Open.

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