Sports Zone

HSSZ: The week ahead


Cottage Grove Lions: 3-6, ranked #31
In the bonus: The Lions travel 90 minutes north to the Stayton Holiday Classic Wednesday-Friday of this week. Cottage Grove matched up with No. 5 Stayton last night, and its opponent tonight depends on that result. The Lions have benefitted recently from freshman Mariah Bailey’s scoring.

Creswell Bulldogs: 6-2, ranked #16
In the bonus: Creswell begins league play next Wednesday at No. 19 Harrisburg. Creswell and Harrisburg played three times last season, with Harrisburg winning the first one and Creswell winning the next two, including a 30-28 victory in a league playoff that secured the No. 2 Mountain Valley Conference postseason seed for Creswell. The Bulldogs lost four starters from that team last year, but are still led by a trio of upperclassmen in Samairah Quinones, Lauren Bailey and Dakota Carson.

Pleasant Hill Billies: 7-1, ranked #14
In the bonus: Pleasant Hill’s league-opener is next week against La Pine, who the Billies handled twice last season – 30-13 and 38-20. Head coach Kim Beer’s squad had 11 days between games after a cancellation last week due to weather, and should be well-rested headed into conference play. Despite a 6-11 record last season, Pleasant Hill finds itself with the best record of any Mountain Valley Conference team as of now, and should be a contender for the conference outright.

Springfield Millers: 6-3, ranked #5
In the bonus: Springfield returned home for the holidays after a successful trip to Arizona. The Millers’ first game of 2023 is at Class 6A No. 8 Willamette on Tuesday. The game is Springfield’s final non-league game as Midwestern play starts next Friday, so the team should gain a lot from the game against a talented Class 6A opponent.

Thurston Colts: 4-5, ranked #17
In the bonus: Thurston’s final non-league game is a winnable one next Tuesday at Class 6A Roseburg. The Colts are on a three-game skid and will want to get the ball rolling in the right direction before league play. Freshman Addison Nelson has been a pleasant surprise offensively for head coach Steve Eastburn, and along with junior Bailey Tovey look to be featured heading into the meat of the season.


Cottage Grove Lions: 5-4, ranked #15
In the bonus: A 1-1 record last week has Cottage Grove inching up the rankings from No. 18 last week. This week the Lions play three games at the Stayton HS Holiday Classic. Cottage Grove had a rematch with No. 5 Stayton last night after losing in the finals of the CG tournament last week. The Lions’ opponent tonight and tomorrow depends on that and other results.

Creswell Bulldogs: 6-2, ranked #10
■ In the bonus: Creswell begins league play as the team’s only game next week is at No. 15 Harrisburg. The Bulldogs went 0-2 against Harrisburg last year, losing the two games by a combined seven points. Creswell will want to start league play on a high note after going 2-6 in conference play last year with multiple close losses. Seniors AJ Hodge, Max Velarde, Connor Hanson and Jack Nguyen especially will want to start their final league season with a win.

Pleasant Hill Billies: 8-1, ranked #4
In the bonus: Much like league-rival Creswell, the Billies begin league play this week. Pleasant Hill hosts La Pine, who the Billies beat in both matchups last season. Pleasant Hill’s sole loss this season was against Class 4A No. 2 Junction City, and other than that the team has been near-perfect. The Billies are led by the backcourt trio of junior Matthew Nguyen, sophomore Gavin Inglish and freshman Landen Melvin.

Springfield Millers: 2-5, ranked #27
In the bonus: Springfield finishes the Les Schwab Oregon Holiday Hoopfest at Summit HS today and tomorrow. The Millers faced host No. 4 Summit last night after deadline. Springfield then hosts Willamette next Wednesday in its last non-league game before league play begins. Eight of the Millers’ 12 players are juniors. Coupled with a difficult pre-league schedule it’s no surprise head coach Crosby Green’s team is still looking to find its footing this season.

Thurston Colts: 4-3, ranked #10
■ In the bonus: Thurston has a busy post-holiday schedule with four games this week, including one last night as the Colts begin play in the Barry Adams Invitational Tournament at South Salem HS. Thurston faced Jefferson of Portland last night, and its opponents tonight and tomorrow will depend on multiple results. Thurston then returns for its first game of the New Year at home against Class 6A No. 20 Roseburg. Hunter James, Nate Stiffler and Walker Bonar have been the scoring leaders this season.



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