By Logan Brandon • Sports Editor • 

3A state basketball playoffs: County teams prepare for first-round games


The 2021/22 Class 3A basketball state playoffs begin this weekend as the top-16 teams in the state battle for a chance to reach the state championships in Coos Bay. Yamhill County’s prep basketball squads are well-represented in this season’s postseason bracket with six qualifying teams.

Local basketball fans have the option of watching home playoff games at Amity (girls), Dayton (boys) or Willamina (boys and girls). Those who wish a long road trip can support the Amity boys in Vale or the Yamhill-Carlton girls in Sutherlin.

Continue reading for a complete preview on each of the six postseason matchups –

Girls basketball: Willamina (1) versus Oregon Episcopal School (16)

One of the most dominant teams in Willamina history starts its championship pursuit this Saturday against 16-ranked Oregon Episcopal School. The Bulldog girls basketball team enters the 3A postseason with the only undefeated record in its class (21-0).

Willamina’s winning formula has been remarkably simple, yet flawlessly executed this season. The team has defeated every opponent using a deadly combination of suffocating defense and unselfish offense.

Head coach Tom Anderson hopes his team doesn’t overlook the Aardvarks, however, noting OES’ seven-game winning streak to finish the regular season.

“We expect a tough matchup. They went from third to first. But, our girls are playing really well, too,” noted Anderson.

Willamina boasts an envious amount of talent in its rotation, which includes point guard Grace France, shooting guard Bahley Scranton, wing Kena Rankin, power forward Hallee Hughes and center Cam Eaglestaff.

The Bulldogs and Aardvarks begin their playoff matchup 5 p.m. Saturday.

Boys basketball: Dayton (4) versus Catlin Gabel (14)

As they’ve done for most of the season, the number-four ranked Dayton boys basketball team will have to overcome a distinct size difference in facing number-14 rated Catlin Gabel. The Eagles bring a formidable frontcourt into Friday’s 7 p.m. contest, and Dayton head coach Ron Hop believes his players must respect the Lewis & Clark League’s fourth place team.

Hop said his team’s rebounding will likely be the difference in whether the Pirates advance to Coos Bay for the seventh time in the past eight years or head home emptyhanded.

Catlin Gabel, while boasting much taller athletes, has to contend with the balanced scoring of the Pirates. Senior guards Tyler Spink, Benji Hudson and Nick Bettiga can all score in bunches, while junior forwards Trae Wall and Michael Freeborn add length and versatility to the Pirate frontcourt.

Dayton is 8-2 in its last 10 contests, while the Eagles enter the playoffs on a five-game losing streak.

Girls basketball: Amity (6) versus Rainier (11)

The Amity girls will host their first state playoff game since 2016, and head coach Jed McMullen couldn’t be more excited for his team’s recent play. Leading to the postseason, Amity has won eight of its past 10 matchups, including last Thursday’s 32-23 PacWest Conference championship win over Yamhill-Carlton.

Defense has been the Warrior weapon this season, with the blue-and-white holding opponents to 30 points per game in 24 contests. Amity boasts tremendous athleticism in its backcourt, led by junior guard Ellie McMullen and freshman guard Mya Haarsma.

In the frontcourt, freshman Sara Grove, Megan Scharf and Kylie Kendall are rangy and active defenders. They’ll team up to defend Rainier’s co-Coastal Range League Player of the Year, Kalli Budge.

McMullen said the Warriors need to stay out of foul trouble and use their speed to overcome the Columbians in Round One. Tip-off is Saturday night at 6.

Boys basketball: Willamina (8) versus Pleasant Hill (9)

A miracle finish to last Saturday’s Class 3A Coastal Range League Championship was the difference between the Willamina boys hosting or playing on the road in the state playoffs. The Bulldogs overcame a four-point deficit with 19 seconds remaining to defeat Warrenton and lock up the number-one seed in their conference.

Their reward? A first-round matchup against a talented Pleasant Hill squad which rattled off 17 wins in the regular season.

“They’ve got maturity, experience and size. It’ll be a battle, but we can deal with it,” said Willamina head coach Cliff Toney.

Toney said his young players are immensely appreciative of the opportunity to host Friday night’s playoff, and they’re eager to test themselves in the postseason.

The Bulldog starting rotation is entirely made up of underclassmen, led by star sophomore Cohen Haller. But the team doesn’t rely just on Haller, Toney said, and players like Adam Atherton, Dylan Graham and Kaleb Cruickshank can lead the team in scoring, too.

Willamina (15-7) hosts the Billies at 7 tonight.

Boys basketball: Vale (6) versus Amity (11)

The 11th-seeded Amity boys will need to capture a road upset of sixth-ranked Vale if they want to advance to Coos Bay for the third time in the past four years. Amity finished its regular season with a second-place result in the PacWest Conference after notching a 12-10 overall record.

Head coach Scott Nelson provides the Warriors with a steady presence on the bench. The Amity alum led Amity to a state championship appearance in 2019.

On the court, senior Logan Grove leads the team with versatile scoring and defending. The veteran guard has competed on varsity for the past four years and has again stepped up for Amity this season.

Sophomore Trent Carton has added an offensive punch to the Warrior lineup. His ability to score from outside or off the dribble has opened up the floor for shooters like Noah Groom, Kiyan Vrell and Dallas Wolfe.

Vale ended the regular season with an Eastern Oregon League Championship after defeating Umatilla, 46-35. The Vikings are aiming to advance to Coos Bay for the first time in over ten years.

The two squads tip-off at 5 p.m. Friday night.

Girls basketball: Sutherlin (3) versus Yamhill-Carlton (14)

Yamhill-Carlton will get the chance to rectify a regular-season loss to Sutherlin during this Saturday’s first-round playoff contest. The Tigers previously suffered a 61-13 loss to the Bulldogs during preseason play, but Y-C head coach Nile Seibel is aiming for a more competitive game in this postseason tilt.

“They’re really good and well-coached,” noted Seibel. “When we played earlier this year, both sides shot poorly.”

The Tigers boast impressive playoff experience, with starting guards Olivia Southard, Olivia Davison and Cheyanna Kelly all earning valuable minutes during the past two playoff trips.

Seibel called his team’s leadership and effort the greatest weapons he’ll deploy against Sutherlin. The Bulldogs will counter with all-state point guard Micah Wicks – a dangerous threat in the Sutherlin backcourt.

Y-C plays at Sutherlin Saturday afternoon at 3.



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