Husky boys’ hopes for playoff basketball berth fizzle at Cascade

Sean C. Morgan

Of The New Era

The Cascade Cougars’ pressure on the offensive boards boosted them to a 60-47 win over the Husky boys basketball team on Feb. 22 at Cascade.

The loss ended state playoff hopes for the Huskies, who finished 2-8 in league and 8-14 overall. The Huskies would have had to defeat Cascade and then Sisters to become third seed in state playoffs for the Capital Conference.

Cascade went on to lose to Sisters 69-67 on Feb. 24. In a tiebreaker for first seed, Stayton defeated North Marion 53-49. Both teams had an 8-2 record.

In their final game, the Huskies played even with Cascade, running a small lead for part of the first quarter. Cascade finished the quarter leading 16-14.

“The second quarter, Cascade got hot, shot the ball fairly well,” Husky Coach Tim Little said. “Their two shooters, (Nash) Keene and (Jordan) Gray, had a strong second quarter.”

Cascade hit the offensive boards hard and came up with enough second chances to lead 34-23 at halftime.

The Huskies also turned the ball over at clutch moments during the quarter to help boost the Cougars’ momentum.

After that, the Huskies could never close the nine-point gap from the second quarter, Little said. The Huskies got within eight during the fourth quarter.

Cascade led 45-32 at the end of the third quarter.

Ryan Elliott led Husky scoring with 14 points. Gabe Kauffman added 13; Cody Shipp, 10; Anthony Hoffman, two; Nathan Whitfield, two; Brandon Weist, two; Brandon Smith, two; and Charlie Fitzsimons, two.

Keene led Cascade scoring with 16 points. Gray added 13, and Tommy Coleman scored 11.

“We battled some issues throughout the season with getting comfortable with (our) roles,” Little said. “The kids are real competitive, and they don’t enjoy only winning eight games, and they got down. A lot of psychology goes into a season like this.”

Although the team finished 8-14 overall, “it’s still one of our better coaching years. We learned a lot as a coaching staff.”

“It was a rough year,” Varsity Assistant Coach Randy Hutchins said. “We definitely didn’t accomplish what we hoped for. We knew coming it was going to be difficult to compete.”

The Huskies faced challanges, especially with size, with entire opposing starting lineups that were taller than their tallest varsity player, Hutchins said. “I think the end of the season we saw some good things.”

The Huskies played tough against league co-champion North Marion in their final game of league play, Hutchins said. “There was potential for them to lay down and quit. A lot of guys wouldn’t have shown a lot of character the way we did. I was pleased the way they came out and finished the season.”

The coaching staff learned much and saw many ways to improve the game program-wide next year, Hutchins said.

Little is good at seeing those things and evaluating himself and his team.

Looking forward to next year, when the Huskies move to the Valco Conference, which has good basketball programs such as Philomath and Central, “I think we can go in with a bigger impact than we’re expected,” Hutchins said.