Cagers 8-2 to open season

The Huskies summer basketball team has leaped to an 8-2 start over the first seven days of the season.

The season opened May 31 at Crescent Valley where the Huskies lost to Crescent Valey 77-51 but defeated West Albany 42-32.

They followed up with four straight wins to take the championship in a Tillamook tournament. They defeated Tillamook 40-38, Seaside 48-36, Warrenton 42-32 and Neah-Kah-Nie 46-32.

On June 6, the Huskies defeated West Albany 40-35 and Lebanon 49-30.

Exhausted by the end of the week, the Huskies traveled to Philomath Thursday where Santiam Christian gave them trouble. Santiam Christian took the Huskies into double overtime before the Huskies could pull out a 40-38 win.

Philomath soared over the Huskies in the second half of the following game to hand the Huskies their second loss, 40-25.

“Ten games in seven days is a lot of basketball especially with no practice,” Coach Mark Risen said. “Everything is game situation.”

There’s a lot of intensity requiring players to stay motivated and focused and coaches to be somewhat patient, Coach Risen said. Overall, he is pleased with the start “especially considering the hodge podge of kids I’m playing.”

During the Tillamook tournament, Coach Risen had five incoming sophomores on the court at one point. At others, it was four seniors with a sophomore, with combinations ranging all over the place.

Defense has been consistent with the team, Coach Risen said, although offense requires some work.

“To thin about all we have to work on, and our kids have been this successeful is a real compliment to our kids,” Coach Risen said.

The team was tested in its ninth and 10th games last week as it faced Philomath and Santiam Christian.

“Philomath’s got a good team,” Coach Risen said. “So does Santiam Christian. We were flat. There was no emotion to it.”

With that many games, “it’s hard to stay up all the time,” Coach Risen said. Any time there’s a disruption at school, such as the two-hour awards assembly Thursday, it carries into the evening as well. In addition the team is dealing with some internal issues.

“I’m very, very delighted that they’ve put together the week they’ve put together in lieu of extenuating circumstances,” Coach Risen said.

Against Santiam Christian, the Huskies came out flat and ended up trailing by two points at halftime. They built up a lead in the second half, but Santiam Christian got hot on a couple of shots and took a one-point lead with 23 seconds left. Nik Walker was fouled and shot one to take the game into overtime.

The two teams traded buckets in the two-minute overtime, starting a second overtime. The Huskies ran a play to Walker who drew a shooting foul with 1.3 seconds left in the game. A Santiam Christian player received a technical at the same time. Walker hit one basket to go up by one. Tim Matuszak drew a foul and hit the front end of his foul shots to go up by one more point.

Against Philomath, the Huskies remained flat and dug a 12-point hole. They cut that to three with eight seconds left in the half turning up the intensity and defense to answer a good team like Philomath.

“I honestly think at that time we were out of gas,” Coach Risen said. “I’ve been really pleased overall. If you take away Thursday night’s performance, I’ve been extremely happy with our kids. I’ve got younger kids stepping into roles they didn’t ever know existed. They’re trying to fill that role.”

Walker is averaging 5.6 steals a game with his “phenomenal” defense,” Coach Risen said. Aaron Hegge has averaged 18 points and nine rebounds per game.

“I’ve never seen a kid with quicker hands than Tim Matuszak,” Coach Risen said. The first four games at point guard, he never turned the ball over and had 19 assists. He also is deflecting the ball eight or nine times a game with his quick defense.

Sam Posthuma has stepped up at post defense, Coach Risen said. Where fellow post Hegge is lanky, Posthuma can throw his body at his opponents.

Anthony Mink has been playing well adding six points and six rebounds per game. Donnie Cliver has come off the bench and delivered when needed, particularly with a six-point, four-rebound run against West Albany.

Brian Seward is maturing and filling his role, Coach Risen said. Brady Simpkins is beginning to understand his role and playing good defense. He is getting good at finishing on the receiving end and rebounding well. Carey Hintze is doing well pulling down rebounds for the team.