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Newberg Tiger sports round-up: Early season bodes well for girls basketball team

The Newberg High School swim teams opened their seasons with a dual meet against McMinnville on Thursday, the start of a development year for a young group on the rise in the Pacific Conference. The Tigers lost 89-81 to the Grizzlies on the girls' side while the boys lost 112-56.

Despite the team losses, new coach Cari Blanchard was optimistic about her team's outlook this season. She said the swimmers are, too.

"I think all the athletes were pleased with the meet," she said. "There was a general feeling of excitement with starting the season and competing as we did. They were happy with the results and everyone agreed it went well."

Blanchard said she was pleased with the performances of top swimmers such as Ty Patterson and Stella Byles, but added that everyone felt pleased for the most part with their performances. The team set plenty of personal records, she said, and swimmers that were on the junior varsity squad showed "tremendous growth."

"Everybody did really well by their standards," Blanchard said. "I'm proud about how many of our young swimmers performed, along with our leaders like Stella (Byles) and Ty (Patterson).

"McMinnville has way more depth. While we only have enough to put roughly two guys in each event, they typically have enough for four. That can make it tough to compete on the boys and girls sides."

Building the depth of the swim program will be a focus in the coming years, but for now this Tiger team is focused on its next meet.

After a holiday break from competition with plenty of practices sprinkled in, Newberg will face McMinnville again – along with David Douglas and West Salem – in the Double Distance meet on Jan. 3 at McMinnville Aquatic Center. The Tigers' next meet after that will be back at home Jan. 9 against Forest Grove.

Girls firing out of the gates

The Newberg girls basketball team remains undefeated at 5-0 after a pair of wins in its home tournament late last week. While it's early, the Tigers are ranked No. 5 in the OSAA rankings and are finding ways to win against opponents of varying quality.

Newberg beat Wilson 34-28 on Dec. 6, squeaked past North Medford 46-44 on Dec. 7 and narrowly defeated Lincoln 34-29 on Dec. 10. That set the table for a pair of games in their home tournament on Friday and Saturday, both of which the Tigers won handily.

Newberg beat Aloha 58-32 and whooped Sunset 53-21. Both wins were marked by strong defensive performances.

Next up for Newberg is a road matchup with Canby on Wednesday, followed by a pair of games in the Century/Hillsboro Tournament Dec. 26-27 against Reynolds and Aloha.

Boys hoops searching for a groove

Facing a difficult non-conference schedule with a roster made up of mostly new contributors, Newberg boys basketball is struggling in the early going. The Tigers are 1-4 on the season with all four losses coming by 15 points or more.

Newberg opened the season with a 51-43 loss to Sheldon on Dec. 4 and an 81-57 loss to Tigard on Dec. 6. The Tigers followed that up with their lone victory, a 64-61 win over Southridge on Dec. 7 in the second game of Tigard's tournament.

Newberg lost a pair of games last week in difficult fashion, dropping a road game at Oregon City 69-49 on Dec. 10 before a 63-48 road loss to Sunset on Friday. The Tigers played a home game against Centennial – which came into the game at 0-4 on the season – on Tuesday night after press time.

Coach Mark Brown's squad will look ahead to a pair of contests in the Mountainside Tournament Dec. 20-21, with their opponents yet to be determined.

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