Sports Zone

HSSZ: The week ahead


Cottage Grove Lions: 3-9, ranked #31
In the bonus: Cottage Grove finds itself on a five-game losing streak, but has three non-league games to get back on track before Sky-Em play begins. Head coach Pete LeMay continues to get great production from freshman Mariah Bailey, who averaged 9.7 ppg in the three Stayton Holiday Classic games. The Lions compete at the Sky-Em/Skyline Crossover this Friday and Saturday at either Marist or Junction City.
Creswell Bulldogs: 6-3, ranked #19
In the bonus: Creswell hosts La Pine on Friday and rival No. 8 Pleasant Hill on Tuesday as Mountain Valley Conference play begins this week. Senior Samairah Quinones and juniors Lauren Bailey and Dakota Carson should be the Bulldogs’ contenders for all-league teams, and head coach Tyler Hollingsworth will need all three to beat the Billies, who Creswell handled in both matchups last season.
Pleasant Hill Billies: 8-1, ranked #8
In the bonus: Pleasant Hill, one of the early surprises in Class 3A, is on a six-game win streak as league play starts this week. The Billies travel to Class 4A Sweet Home on Friday before traveling to No. 19 Creswell in an attempt to beat the Bulldogs for the first time since June of 2021. Pleasant Hill will need great performances from the usual suspects of seniors Shyanne Fenley and Kiley Campos if it hopes to regain control of the rivalry.
Springfield Millers: 7-3, ranked #5
In the bonus: Head coach Joe Williamson’s team starts league play after an incredibly difficult pre-2023 schedule that included three top-10 teams and a trip to Arizona for the Nike Tournament of Champions. Both of Springfield’s games this week are at home as it first hosts No. 8 Crater on Friday, which came in second last year in the Midwestern League ahead of Springfield. The Millers then host No. 13 North Eugene next Tuesday. Springfield is looking to capture its first Midwestern League title since the 2018-19 season, a season in which Springfield lost in the state championship game.
Thurston Colts: 4-6, ranked #18
In the bonus: Thurston starts league competition on a four-game losing streak, and hopes to snap that as it travels to Ashland on Friday and hosts No. 17 Churchill on Tuesday. The Colts should be able to handle Ashland (1-5) behind star Bailey Tovey, but the home matchup against Churchill should be a great indicator for head coach Steve Eastburn of where his team stands at the beginning of league play.
Note: Records and rankings as of noon Tuesday.


Cottage Grove Lions: 6-6, ranked #18
In the bonus: The Lions compete Friday and Saturday at the Sky-Em/Skyline Crossover. The crossover takes place at Henley and Mazama high schools in Klamath Falls, although Cottage Grove’s exact opponents and locations are still TBD. The crossover should be a great final tune-up for the Lions as they prepare for league play later this month. Despite Cottage Grove’s best shooter – sophomore Nathin Lemon – being out for the season with a torn ACL the Lions have been scoring well, putting up at least 50 points in five of their past six games.
Creswell Bulldogs: 7-2, ranked #7
In the bonus: Creswell begins its league play this week, playing host to No. 17 La Pine on Friday before hosting
No. 5 Pleasant Hill on Tuesday. While the Bulldogs have gotten big contributions this season from seniors AJ Hodge, Max Velarde and Connor Hanson, the pleasant surprise has been the play of sophomore Tyler Whitson. Whitson is averaging 9.9 points per game and is leading the team with 6.4 rebounds, 3.1 assists and 2.4 steals per game. Head coach Jesse Thomas will need all four players to show up against rival Pleasant Hill, who beat Creswell twice last season by a combined five points.
Pleasant Hill Billies: 9-1, ranked #5
In the bonus: The Billies continue to win and after traveling to Class 4A Sweet Home (1-9) on Friday Pleasant Hill makes the 11-mile trip to rival No. 8 Creswell on Tuesday. Head coach Darwin Terry has already scouted the Bulldogs this year so it will be interesting to see how he defends Creswell’s balanced scoring attack. Big men Brooks Wilcox and Matthew Dutton will be especially important on defense in order to slow down Creswell’s big-man duo of AJ Hodge and Max Velarde. Look for Gavin Inglish to continue to carry the load for the Billies.
Springfield Millers: 2-5, ranked #26
In the bonus: After two cancellations head coach Crosby Green’s squad has had almost two weeks between competitions. Springfield returns to action this week with its first league games against No. 6 Crater on Friday and at No. 20 North Eugene next Tuesday. While the Millers couldn’t quite find their footing out of league play, the start of the Midwestern League and the New Year means a clean slate for Springfield.
Thurston Colts: 6-4, ranked #8
In the bonus: Winners of three of its past four, Thurston heads into Midwestern League play on a roll. The Colts have two away league games this week, at Ashland on Friday and at undefeated No. 2 Churchill on Tuesday. Thurston fell last week to Churchill 65-62 in the finals of the Barry Adams Invitational, but the Colts have an opportunity for revenge, and a chance to hand the Lancers their first loss of the season.



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