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Lions ready for sharpshooting start to new season at home in Seven-Mile War opener

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Jacob Falk and the Lions aim for sharper shooting in their electric offense.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Parker Miller releases a layup in practice Tuesday, Nov. 21, at St. Helens High School.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Jacob Robbins lifts for a layup in practice.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Blake Winnier elevates for a layup.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Joe Rea releases a jumper from the shoulder in practice.

The Lions have a shot to break loose at home against Class 5A Northwest Oregon Conference rival-to-be Scappoose Friday.

St. Helens is scheduled to welcome its Seven-Mile rival, with which the Lions have split the last six head-to-head though by a 58-55 average score in the Indians' favor, at 7:15 p.m.

"I'm super pumped for this year: We have a strong senior class [guard Trenton Minich and forwards Jacob Falk, Devin McCall and Owen Wolfe] and some young guys who can get after it [junior forwards Hunter Wetherbee, Angelo Luster and Chris Beatty, junior post and sophomore guard Joe Rea]," said senior guard Drake Dow, an all-leaguer with Falk. "I love that Mass [third-year coach Jordan Massinger] came back, and I'm excited to see how many wins he can lead us to this year."

If St. Helens is to run the electric offense it likes, the Lions have to sink their open looks.

Three-man drills with a shooter, rebounder and wing passer are vital.

"I want the guys to get in 150 to 200 makes in practice like Butler [University] did with Brad Stevens [now in charge of the Boston Celtics], up from 70 to 80," Massinger said. "Lots of teams zone us, and why wouldn't you zone a team that can't shoot?"

St. Helens' 5-18 overall and 2-12 Northwest Oregon records in 2016-17 matched the previous two seasons' combined win totals, but the Lions reached the second round of state in 2007 and made the play-in round in 2011, 2012 and 2013 as they average a 7-17, 3-11 record in the last 13 years.

"I look forward to the rivalry [with Scappoose]," Massinger said. "It's a fun night for both teams, and I love how each town really gets into it: The energy is unmatched anywhere else, and it's the best place to be on Friday night. Both teams will play hard and compete: What more can you ask for?"

Atop St. Helens' conference schedule is a home-and-away with twice-defending Class 5A champion Wilsonville, all-state Coach of the Year Chris Roche and all-league guards Caleb Larsen (a senior) and Jack Roche (a junior) set for Jan. 26 in Wilsonville and in the Feb. 23 regular-season home finale.

SEASON OUTLOOK: The Lions are in good shape to cut into Wilsonville's three-year conference reign as both return with as many all-league players as Wilsonville and Milwaukie (seniors Jazz Moore and Marcel Nemarundae).

ST. HELENS LIONS

COACH: Jordan Massinger (Third year)

CLASSIFICATION: Class 5A, Northwest Oregon Conference

2016-17 FINISH: 5-18 overall, 2-12 Northwest Oregon (Seventh in conference, missed postseason)

RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS: Drake Dow, sr., G; Jacob Falk, sr., F.

ROSTER

Drake Dow, sr., G; Trenton Minich, sr., G; Jacob Falk, sr., F; Devin McCall, sr., F; Owen Wolfe, sr., F; Hunter Wetherbee, jr., F; Angelo Luster, jr., F/P; Chris Beatty, jr., F/P; Jacob Erceg, jr., P; Joe Rea, so., G.

SCHEDULE

Dec. 1 Scappoose at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 5 North Salem at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 8 St. Helens at Bend, 7 p.m.

Dec. 9 St. Helens at Mountain View, 12:45 p.m., in Bend

Dec. 12 Canby at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 15 St. Helens at The Dalles, 7 p.m.

Dec. 19 St. Helens at Forest Grove, 6:45 p.m.

Dec. 20 Sunset at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m.

Dec. 28 Seaside at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m.

Jan. 3 St. Helens at Hood River Valley, 7 p.m.

Jan. 5 St. Helens at Hillsboro, 7:15 p.m. *

Jan. 9 St. Helens at Putnam, 7:15 p.m., in Milwaukie *

Jan. 12 Parkrose at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m. *

Jan. 16 Milwaukie at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m. *

Jan. 19 St. Helens at Sandy, 7:15 p.m. *

Jan. 23 La Salle Prep at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m. *

Jan. 26 St. Helens at Wilsonville, 7:15 p.m. *

Jan. 31 Hillsboro at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m. *

Feb. 2 Putnam at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m. *

Feb. 6 St. Helens at Parkrose, 7:15 p.m. *

Feb. 13 St. Helens at Milwaukie, 7:15 p.m. *

Feb. 16 Sandy at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m. *

Feb. 20 St. Helens at La Salle Prep, 7:15 p.m., in Milwaukie *

Feb. 23 Wilsonville at St. Helens, 7:15 p.m. *

* Northwest Oregon Conference game

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