Stayton, Sisters knock boys back to third place in hoops

Sweet Home’s boys lost two basketball games last week to fall from a tie with Stayton for first place to third place.

On Feb. 8, Stayton defeated the Huskies at home, dropping them to second place. It was the first team to beat the Huskies at home this season. Tied with Sisters going into Friday night’s game at home, the Outlaws defeated the Huskies to slip into the second-place slot.

“As compared to the first time we played Stayton, the things we wanted to improve on, we definitely did differently,” Coach Tim Little said, but Stayton played well too. Stayton’s coach told Coach Little that game was one of his Stayton’s best so far this year.

“We are in no way disappointed with their effort,” Coach Little said of his team. “The kids put a lot on that game emotionally. It just kind of broke them.”

The Huskies were tied 24-24 with Stayton at halftime. They came out with an 8-0 run in the third quarter, but Stayton answered that with a run to take a slight lead going into the fourth.

“It was a roller coaster game,” Coach Little said. One run would put the Huskies well ahead, but Stayton answered with its own runs to retake the lead.

Stayton held an eight- to 10-point lead for much of the fourth quarter, but the Huskies whittled that down in the last minute and a half of the game.

“We made a great run at the end,” Coach Little said. “We managed time and score well and put the right Stayton guys on the line.”

The Huskies capitalized on their missed free throws and closed the gap. With just seconds left in the game, the Huskies had opportunities to take the game or force it into overtime.

Garrett Kauffman was fouled just before going up and hitting a three. He made both free throws to get within two. Fouling to stop the clock, a Stayton shooter pushed the lead back to three. Cody Shipp fired off a three with five seconds left but missed. On the next trip down, the Huskies turned to Andy Worley at half-court, but he missed the final shot at the buzzer.

Worley had been on the bench and cold before going in on the play, Coach Little said. That’s difficult, but “I told Andy at the end that there’s no one else I’d want to take that shot. He came and did his job, and that’s the way the ball bounced.”

The Huskies “were deflated at the end of the game,” Coach Little said. “And I think a lot of that carried into Friday.”

The team came back Wednesday and had a couple of rough practices, Coach Little said. “Everybody was just down, and I could tell.”

Winning the game would have placed the Huskies in the top spot for the conference.

“They invested so much into that game Tuesday night,” Coach Little said. “Some of their feelings were it was all for nothing. They didn’t understand we were in the same spot we were before we played Stayton.”

Sisters has played well, Coach Little said. The team has not lost a game since it last faced Sweet Home. Outlaws victims included Stayton.

The Outlaws play an up tempo game that is much different than Stayton’s organized half-court style. The Huskies prepared for it but ended up not getting the kind of shots they want or the stops on defense it needed.

“We didn’t do what we needed to do to win,” Coach Little said. Still, the Huskies were within three points at the end of the game. “I’m hoping it’s a wake-up call.”

Matt Morneault played well Friday night, Coach Little said. He scored 14, a season high, and pulled down four boards.

Overall, the Huskies shot poorly, 18-53, just 33 percent.

Stayton now leads the Capital Conference with a 7-1 record. Sisters is second at 6-2. The Huskies are 5-3 and third followed by Cascade at 4-4.

The Huskies faced Cascade Tuesday night. The game had not been played as of press time. Friday, the play their final league game at North Marion.

“If we take care of business, the best we can do is finish second,” Coach Little said. That means the Huskies would host a third-place team from Eastern Oregon in the first round of state playoffs. That round leads to the state tournament at Gill Coliseum.

If Sisters loses two games and the Huskies win both of theirs, the Huskies will finish second. Sisters faces Stayton and Cascade this week. If Sisters loses one, and the Huskies win both of theirs, the two teams will meet in a tie breaker, a real possibility where the Huskies can take a little revenge.

“It’s so long from being over,” Coach Little said. “We just have to put what happened last week behind us and focus on what we need to do today not what we didn’t do yesterday.”