Roaring into March: Cascade Cougar hoopsters ranked #1

March, 2016 Posted in School, Sports & Recreation

James DayBy James Day

Cascade High’s girls basketball team
ended its regular season on a 23-game winning s streak and enters the state playoffs ranked No. 1 by the OSAA in Class 4A. The Cougars opened the season with a loss to a team from Hawaii and have run the table since, including a 10-0 mark in the Oregon West Conference.

“23 and 1 is probably never expected,” Cascade coach Mark Stevens said. “We were expecting to do well this year. (The) key to very good seasons are the intangibles such as leadership.

“As the year has progressed we have developed a very deep bench. I bring starters off the bench. We have played complete games lately and have multiple girls stepping up every game.”

The Cougars draw a bye in the first round of the playoffs and just have to win one home game to advance to state.

Both Regis hoop squads, meanwhile, are one win away from a trip to Pendleton for the Class 2A tournament. The boys team, 22-3 and ranked No. 1 in the state, hosted Oakland on Feb. 27 while the girls team (19-7 and ranked fifth) hosted Imbler on Feb.26 (after Our Town’s deadline).

Cheer: Stayton took fourth place at the OSAA Class 4A large division state cheerleading championships. The Eagles collected 143.60 points from the judges and trailed champion Sweet Home (182.49), Gladstone (175.40) and North Bend (161.50).

“They have amazing leadership by the seniors and really came together as a family,” said first-year coach Jenna Stoyles, who played a role in a pair of state championships while coaching at Regis.

“Cheer is such a sport of trial and error, and a lot of failures have led our team to success.”

Stoyles said she could see the state finish coming during the final week of practice.

“We had a time during practice where the seniors got to bring something inspirational to the group to help prepare for state. That night was when (the) coaches truly realized that this team of diverse girls had come together as sisters.”

Stoyles singled out the leadership of Mandi Elmer and Kasey Ball but also noted the commitment of the entire group to 10 to 15 hours of practice a week for nine months.

“Our year has had some ups and downs, but mostly ups,” Stoyles said. “I honestly believe we have really started a new program for Stayton cheer. Competitive cheer is a sport that is so huge in other areas and Stayton hasn’t been one of those that is recognized for that in quite some time, it is time to bring it back.”

Other team members are: Gabrielle Meyers, Sami Croff, Samantha Moses, Savannah Will, Amberlyn Smith, Kaylee Kaaihue, Lilly Sessums, Alyssa Black, Taylor High, Haley Thomas, Jasmin Zepeda, Alexis Keim and Hayley Harr. Stoyles was aided by assistant coach Valerie Fitzgerald.

Wrestling: Cascade took third in the Class 4A District 2 wrestling led by Louie Sanchez, who won the district championship at 220 pounds. Sanchez punched his ticket to the state meet with an 8-1 decision against Justin Crum of Sutherlin that improved his season’s record to 31-6.

Two other Cougars, James Baxter at 152 and Hayes VanDeHey at 182, finished second to help Cascade ring up 249 team points. Sweet Home won the team title with 376 points. North Marion was second at 304. Cascade showed great depth up and down the lineup with Quinn Legner taking third at 132, Asa Alexander fourth at 152, Sam Garee fourth at 170, Darien Fagan fifth at 120, Kade VanDeHey fifth at 145 and six wrestlers finishing sixth: Brook Petterson (106), Devin Privratsky (113), Chris Hernandez (120), Connor Kelly (138), Austin Brill (145) and Macoy Christman (195).

Stayton, meanwhile, finished 11th with 53 team points, led by fourth-place finishers Ryan Ninman (113) and Cleveland Smith (145) and Levi Summers (fifth at 160).

Dance:  The Stayton Highlights won both of their fall competitions and also are 2-0 during the state season as they point toward the OSAA championships in March. The Highlights took second last year after a run of 11 consecutive state titles.

“The team is looking incredibly strong,” coach Robin Meier said. “They are such a focused and mentally tough team.  Their work ethic is unmatched.  They are incredible athletes, incredible dancers, and incredible young women.  It’s definitely an honor coaching them.”

Seven seniors — all of whom have two state titles and one runner-up — are playing key leadership roles for the Highlights, led by captains Mackenzie Anundi, Maggie Bullard, Cheyene Heuberger and Kymberlin Bush. The other seniors are Rachael Branch, Mandy Christiansen and Olivia Whisman. The Highlights have dedicated their season to Ty Hart, the Stayton Marine, and his 11 Marine mates who died in a helicopter crash off of Hawaii in January. Stayton’s state meet routine is inspired by the story of WWII prisoner of war Louie Zamperini, which was told in the book and film Unbroken.

Hoop Shoot: A veteran basketball sharpshooter is headed to Vancouver, Wash., for regional competition. Jacob Axmaker of Sublimity triumphed in the local competition at the Silverton Elks Lodge No. 2210 and has now won a state title as well. Axmaker, who made 21 of 25 shots at state, is a Hoop Shoot veteran, finishing fifth nationally in his age group two years and No. 2 last year.

Axmaker will compete March 12 in the regionals, with a shot at an all-expenses paid trip to nationals in Springfield, Massachusetts, on the line.

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