GAMES: CHS at Junction City, 7:15 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 4 and CHS at La Pine, 6 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 7.
OVERVIEW: For the first time since December 2008, Creswell will make the 35-minute drive north to Junction City to reignite an old rivalry. It’s been two years since the Oregon State Athletic Association moved up classifications four to six, resulting in Creswell saying goodbye to the Sky-Em League and the rivalries there. You can still see them rotating in and out of one another’s preseason schedules, but it has been more than 11 years since Creswell has played on Junction City’s home court. During the last decade, Creswell had six wins against the Tigers, and Junction City had three. In addition, Creswell had four different athletes make all-state teams while Junction City hasn’t had anyone listed since 2008.
WHAT2WATCH: Head coach Jesse Thomas said, ”Junction City is one of those games where we have to play well. They will not let us make mistakes without repercussions.” Thomas said the key to the game is defense: ”They can be a difficult matchup because they’re not very tall and play mostly guards, similar to us. I am super confident in how we’ve been playing lately, though, and our guys have worked really hard to get where they are and I don’t see that fading anytime soon.”
WHO2WATCH: Last season JC graduated six of its 10-man roster, leaving four underclassman to lead the Tigers. Keep an eye on how the younger players match up with Creswell’s experienced team.
QUOTABLE: ”We’re going to have to defend well if we want to win that battle because Junction City always brings one,” Thomas said.
GAMES: CHS at Junction City, 7:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 4 and CHS at La Pine, 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 7.
WHAT2WATCH: Freshmen made up 50 percent of Junction City’s team last year. Whatever they lacked in experience, they made up for it by being able to score. Last season, JC completed its season second in the Sky-Em League for most points scored throughout the season – 1,282 points. When asked about his upcoming schedule, head coach Tyler Hollingsworth said, ”Over these next two games, I’m trying to see if we got any better over break. Are we growing? Are we having some positive developments? I just want to make sure we keep getting better, because if we do then maybe we can shine on in league. We were having some really good moments and then all of us got sick for a whole week. That didn’t help,” he said. He added that now that the team is practicing again after a holiday break, ”they’ve rested and healed up, so I’m ready to see what we can do.”
WHO2WATCH: ”We’ve had to have some young girls step up into bigger roles and I’m really proud of the growth I’ve seen in them,” Hollingsworth said. ”A lot of our girls haven’t played a lot of varsity minutes so it’s nice to see that it’s all coming along. There’s glimpses of positive things going on and I think we just need to find some consistency.” The key, he said, is consistency. ”We won’t get very far by being super good for short and random intervals of time. If we are just more consistent about what we’re doing, I think it’ll really help us.” Junction City returns all but two players from last season. Junction City has that unique balance of youth and varsity experience.
QUOTABLE: ”I know that what we need to do is play good defense, take care of the basketball and rebound. We need to control the things we can control and do the things well that we do well. If we do that, it won’t matter what the other team is doing because we’re playing really well too,” Hollingworth said.
MATCHES: CHS at Elmira Invitational at Elmira HS, 8 a.m., Saturday, Jan. 4. Other participating schools include Central Linn, Crow, Jefferson, La Pine, Newport, North Eugene, Springfield, Sutherlin and Taft.
WHAT2WATCH: Creswell will be competing at the Elmira Invitational. Last week Creswell struggled with having the majority of its team out because of the holiday, causing the Bulldogs to compete with only four athletes. Head coach Mario Perez said that the first half of the season before winter break is like a ”preseason” for wrestling. Now is when everyone starts turning up the heat as districts and the possibility of state get closer and closer. Elmira also has a girls’ tournament at this event, allowing Audrey Harrington, Brielle Brick, Carley Wilkerson, Emma Vinyard, Guinevere Devore, Kendyl Seiber and Sierra Walter to compete in their own brackets.
WHO2WATCH: Brielle Brick took first in the Thurston Girls’ Tournament last week so be sure to check out the girls’ tournament to see for yourself why Oregon made itself the seventh state to officially sanction girls’ wrestling.
QUOTABLE: ”The girls on our team this year seem to have even more hunger to do well than the guys do. I’m watching it drive their teammates to do better too and it’s a great thing for the sport,” said Perez.