Kevin Sanchez named second team all-state
A historic season landed some impressive post-season honors for the Crook County boys basketball program.
Leading the Cowboys to their first league title since 1948, and capturing two state playoffs/tournament wins earned Jason Mumm the 5A Coach of the Year honors.
The 2019-20 season was Mumm's first at the helm of the Cowboy boys basketball program.
Kevin Sanchez, the junior guard who led the Cowboys in scoring, landed on the all-state second team. Sanchez earlier earned the Intermountain Conference Player of the Year honors.
Sanchez was the Cowboys most consistent scorer during the year, and finished with 30 in their final game at state. His scoring and overall floor game led Crook County throughout their historic season, which ended up in Gill Coliseum and the 5A State Tournament.
Crater's standout center Nat Bittle was among the all-state first-teamers. He was joined by two Wilsonville seniors, Dakota Reber and Gabe Reichle, and Silverton's David Gonzeles, a senior, and senior Brian Goracke, the Churchill standout who blistered Crook County in their state tournament game.
On the second team, Sanchez was joined by Churchill's Silas Bennion, Crater's Kruger Edwards, both seniors, and fellow juniors Luke Smith of Willamette and TJ Zimmerman of West Albany.
Topping off his fantastic first year at the helm, Mumm was also recently honored with the Oregon Athletic Officials Association Meritorious Sportsmaship award for 2019-2020. The OAOA hopes to honor Mumm at its banquet on May 30, at the University of Oregon.
Season for the ages
The Cowboys started the season with just a 5-4 record, then improved to 8-4 before dropping the opening game of Intermountain Conference play.
From that point on, the Cowboys were nearly flawless, going 8-1 the remainder of league play, winning the Cowboys' first-ever Intermountain Conference title.
Crook County reached the state tournament for just the second time in school history, the last time was 1948, and won their first state tournament game in school history.
Crook County lost their quarterfinal game to No. 1-ranked Churchill by a 70-47 score.
The Cowboys rebounded to blast fifth-ranked West Albany 72-50 in the consolation semifinals to earn a berth in the fourth-place game, only to find out less than an hour later that the remainder of the tournament was canceled.
"Obviously, our guys are disappointed," Mumm said at the time. "But we aren't the only disappointed team. All the other six teams that didn't get to finish are disappointed too. But it was good to finish on a win."
Because the tournament was never finished, the OSAA did not pick an all-state team.
That was a shame as Crook County guard Kevin Sanchez would almost certainly have been on the team, while post Caleb Arnold should also have received consideration.
Sanchez led the tournament in scoring with 42 points in two games, averaging 21 points a game.
Bittle, a 6-11 post from Crater, scored 35 points in the Comets' opening round game against South Albany.
Sanchez also led the tournament in assists with 10 and rebounding with 20.
Arnold was also high in the rebounding totals with 12 and was fourth in points with 26.
Cayden Lowenbach also appeared in the top eight in scoring at the tournament with 18 points in the Cowboys' two games.
The Cowboys return a lot of firepower next season.
Sanchez returns as do fellow juniors Lowenbach, Jesse Sanchez, Hogan Smith and Abel Nunez. Kevin Sanchez was the Intermountain Conference player of the year, while Lowenbach and Jesse Sanchez both had multiple double-digit games.
In addition, both Smith and Nunez provide defensive toughness.
Mumm added that this season's success was possible because of his coaching staff and that staff has a lot to do with his optimism for next season.
"I can't say enough about my coaching staff," he said. "Best coaching staff in the state. I would put them up against any coaching staff just with their player development — just with their game planning and with their knowledge of the game and with how they give ideas and talk strategy."
Those coaches, Jeff Lowenbach and Conner Booster, are both planning on returning next season.
"They brought both of their groups a long way from start to finish," Mumm said. "And the future is bright," he said. "We have a lot coming back. We have got younger groups at the high school, middle school and youth levels that are developing. I like where the future of Crook County High School basketball is going."
Story by the Central Oregonian staff and Lon Austin.
5A Boys Basketball
Nat Bittle - Junior, Crater
David Gonzales - Senior, Silverton
Brian Goracke - Senior, Churchill
Dakota Reber - Senior, Wilsonville
Gabe Reichle - Senior, Wilsonville
Silas Bennion - Senior, Churchill
Kruger Edwards - Senior, Crater
Kevin Sanchez - Junior, Crook County
Luke Smith - Junior, Willamette
TJ Zimmerman - Junior, West Albany
Damontae Burns - Junior, Parkrose
Isaiah Gilliam - Junior, South Albany
Samaje Morgan - Sophomore, Churchill
Dakota Sams - Junior, Pendleton
Keegan Shivers - Senior, Wilsonville
5A Coach of the Year
Jason Mumm - Crook County
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