Flying higher: Stayton girls in top 5 under AD/Coach Darren Shryock

February, 2018 Posted in Community, Sports & Recreation

James DayIn just his second year as the head coach at Stayton, Darren Shryock has his girls basketball squad in the top five.stay-shryock

The Eagles are 12-4 overall and ranked No. 5 in Class 4A by the OSAA. Stayton, Cascade, North Marion and Newport all are 2-1 in the early going in the Oregon West Conference. Cascade is ranked sixth and North Marion eighth.

Shryock, who coached the Silverton High boys team to two third-place finishes at state in his 12 years there, is in his fourth year as the athletic director at Stayton. It is his second season coaching the girls.

“I think the jury is out on how good this team can be,” Shryock said. “For the most part, this team has proven they can defend. As is the case for most teams, if you can defend you have a chance. They are great kids and they play hard. The potential is there to make it to the state tournament, but we will have to see how league plays out.”

Alexa Bender, a 6-1 senior, and Marri Martinez, a 6-1 junior, have been the top scorers and rebounders for the Eagles. Junior Alli Nyquist and her sister, sophomore KJ Nyquist, have played key ball-handling and defensive roles, with senior Lexi Smart and sophomore Genevieve Frith also proving strong contributors.

The Eagles’ lone league loss was a 51-35 decision Jan. 19 against perennial power Cascade. The Cougars are coached by Mark Stevens, who is in his 28th season of a career that includes more than 500 wins, a state title and four state runner-up finishes.

“Cascade has to be considered the favorite,” Shryock said. “Mark does a great job with his girls. He has built a power. Teams that are talented and well-coached are incredibly difficult to deal with, and Cascade has both, not just this year but over the years.

“It reminds me of the Corvallis boys team with Greg Garrison we faced when I was coaching at Silverton. It took us a few years to get over the hump and beat them because they were so well-coached and talented.”

Stayton and Cascade meet again Feb. 9 in Turner.

Shryock, who did not plan to coach when he took the AD job, says he is taking coaching “on a year-to-year basis. I am enjoying coaching the girls. I think I am still adjusting to the girls game having coached boys for so long, but I am enjoying it.”

The Stayton boys are off to a 3-0 start in the Oregon West after a brutal nonconference schedule that included five Class 5A teams. The Eagles went 1-3 in the prestigious Capitol City Classic at Willamette University in Salem, a 16-team event that included a handful of Class 6A teams and four squads from out of state.

Stayton is 8-9 overall and ranked No. 18. No. 3 Newport and No. 14 North Marion both are 2-1. Philomath (1-2) is ranked ninth, although Stayton scored a 48-45 win against the Warriors on Jan. 16. The Eagles still have home-and-home encounters with Newport and North Marion.

Defending Class 2A champion Santiam, meanwhile, is ranked fifth this season, riding a 14-6 overall mark and a 6-1 record in the Tri-River Conference. The Wolverines’ lone league loss was a 49-43 decision Jan. 9 against top-ranked Western Mennonite. Santiam and the Pioneers played again Jan. 31 after Our Town’s presstime.

Dance: The Stayton Highlights are taking on a new challenge this season. The dance squad, which has won the state championship 13 of the past 15 years, is competing in the show division, which means teams can use props and put down their own floor.

“It’s been quite an experience and the girls are loving it so far,” coach Robin Meier told Our Town. “It will be quite the production when it’s finished. We have a ton of parent involvement because they are the ones who put up the set for us at competitions and they help us with props. It’s been really great having them even more involved this year.”

The routine, which will be the one the Highlights use in March at the state meet, debuted Jan. 27 in an event at Philomath after Our Town’s presstime, but the home crowd will have a chance to watch the group Feb. 3 when Stayton hosts a competition.

There are two sessions, at 11 a.m. and 2:30 p.m., with the Highlights performing twice during the second round.

During the fall season the Highlights won all three of the competitions they entered while also performing at two football games, two assemblies and a basketball game.

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