Eli Wraps 4 Years Of Hoops

Eli Porterfield, Sports Editor

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The basketball program throughout my tenure experienced a moderate amount of success overall. Freshman year was an exciting introduction to high school basketball. I enjoyed having Andy Baldwin coach us. He was a solid role model and helped us grow on-and-off the court.

We finished around a mark of a 500 record. Freshman year the away games such as The Dalles and South Albany were very memorable. The team had improved dramatically from the beginning of the season compared to how we played at the conclusion of the season. The varsity team finished 11-15 and ranked 32 in their first year under Osa Esene. Injuries to a few key players took their toll on the season. Many close losses could have been wins if the team was at full strength. The season ended with a first round playoff loss to the first ranked West Linn 102-54. West Linn went on to win the state championship that year.

Sophomore year was another positive year of basketball. The junior varsity team was very talented, by the end of the year we were beating most of the conference and had close losses to top teams in the conference. Teams we were beating by close margins early on, were getting blown out by the end. We nearly upset Central Catholic and Clackamas by the end of the year. Tyler Pannell was a valuable coach that taught us a lot about basketball and aspects of life.

Similar to freshman year, we had a record of .500. The varsity team finished with a record of 13-13 and was 30th in the state. They lost again in the first round of the playoffs to the second ranked by a score of 60-46. Despite the score, the game was close until the final few minutes of the game. South Medford later went on to lose to West Linn in the championship game.

Junior year was the most difficult year of basketball. Many factors contributed to a challenging season for the JV squad. We didn’t win many games and there was a general lack of cohesion on the team. We lost a lot of games, we weren’t close to our previous season’s records. Despite this, the season was a good lesson in learning to deal with adversity and remaining positive. It served as valuable experience for the future. The team was led by coach Thomas Nava.

The varsity team continued to be coached under Osa Esene finishing with a 16-10 record and 25th in the state. Over winter break, they won a San Diego tournament beating Crenshaw in the championship game 56-51. The team lost in the first round to 8th ranked Sprague in triple overtime by a score of 74-69. What could have been an exciting upset was stopped by crucial late free throw misses.

Senior year marked the closing of high school basketball. Overall, it was a difficult but fun year. Osa Esene left the program and was replaced by John Poetsch. The team finished ranked 47th in the state with a 5-19 record. It was disappointing to not make the playoffs, or even a play-in game. The season was marked by puzzling inconsistency. Losses to Hillsboro, Gresham, and Central Catholic on senior night stand out as ugly defeats. These losses were contradicted by stretches of nearly defeating top teams like Oregon City and Tualatin. Highlights of the year included blowout wins over Reynolds, Gresham, and Aloha. Many factors contributed to the frustrating season.

Despite the negatives, I enjoyed this year. Coach Poetsch was a strong x and o’s coach along with being a great person in general. While it’s easy to look at the season and view it primarily in a bitter way, there were still many positives to take away. I’ll always be grateful for the memories, friendships, and lessons because of basketball.

Looking to the future, continuity and youth development will be critical to the future of the program. Every year, the JV and freshman have changed. Freshman season was Andy Baldwin, and the now athletic director Brent Child. Sophomore year Tyler Pannell and Alex Grandjean were coaches. This again changed with Thomas Nava and Grant Watts coaching junior year.

For the sake of the program, hopefully Derrick Harris and Michael Wohlers remain connected to the program. Although it’s understandable that people have lives outside of basketball, a lack of continuity doesn’t benefit the program. Additionally, youth development is key to improving the teams. Currently, there’s a significant lack of a respectable youth program. This puts the team behind competing schools that are able to coach kids from early ages.

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