Small school roundup: Damascus Christian girls basketball battling at the top
There's not much talk of a state championship around the No. 1-ranked Damascus Christian High girls basketball team.
At least not any from head coach Morgan Colburn.
Instead, the focus each day is on playing with intensity, respect and playing as a team.
So far, that plan has worked pretty well with the Class 1A Eagles sitting at 13-1, the lone loss coming to Class 3A's Burns.
"They're just really smart," Colburn said. "We have good athletes, good bigs and good shooters. But as a team, they're just really intelligent and they're team-first kids. They want the team to do well and they're all very selfless."
The resume so far is an impressive one for the Eagles, who are not only No. 1 in the OSAA coaches poll, but also the OSAA rankings.
They have taken down No. 2-ranked Crane (54-53), fellow No. 2 Country Christian (44-41), No. 7 St. Paul (55-18) and No. 10 Ione/Arlington (42-18). Damascus Christian also has a 44-35 win over Class 2A's No. 7 team in Colton.
With 1A so spread out, though, Colburn said he and the team don't view themselves as above anyone — there are plenty of other teams across the state who are gunning for the top spot.
"There could be six teams that are No. 1, and I think everybody knows that," Colburn said. "We picked up some good wins, but by one or two points. Those games could go either way."
One of the girls making sure those games didn't go the wrong way is senior point guard Emily Powers.
Colburn said the 5-foot-9 guard can pretty much do it all on the court and is the one leading the way for the Eagles this season.
"Our best player is Emily Powers … she can do everything," Colburn said. "She's fast, she sees the court pretty good and she's great on defense."
Close behind Powers is a group of three great options in 5-foot-11 junior post Julia Mitchell, junior wing Sierra Hale and another 5-foot-11 post in sophomore Laelie Rasmussen.
And really, the whole team has shown Colburn a solid understanding of the game mentally, with the coach saying he could draw up new plays on game day and his team would most likely execute them well.
Add in the height the Eagles boast and you get a mix of something that could become a state title.
That's becoming a regular for the Damascus Christian program that won 1A titles in 2013 and 2015 behind head coach Dave Wakefield, runner-up in 2014 and a fourth place finish at the last state tournament in 2020, before the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Usually we walk into the gym and we're the tallest," Colburn said.
Going forward, there's still plenty to improve on with a rematch coming at 6 p.m. Feb. 1 against Country Christian at home.
"I think we need to get better at team defense and passing," Colburn said. "You can be really loose with it and turn it over a ton, and I think we tend to do that a little too much."
But Colburn admits it's hard to complain about what he's seen from his girls so far this year. Colburn also coaches the boys team that's sitting at 5-8 with many young players on its roster.
While a state title might not come up much in conversation, the early returns show the Eagles could be one of the top contenders come March.
"I think for how much talent there is, if this team wasn't team first and so smart, they would still have only lost three or four games," Colburn said. "They're just that talented, they'd still be a winning team. But the thing they're doing so well is putting each other first."
OES, Catlin Gabel boys hoops rise in 3A
The Aardvarks and Eagles have risen into the top 10 of the OSAA coaches poll after slower starts to the season.
OES is sitting at 7-5 on the year with a 2-2 mark in the Lewis and Clark League, the losses coming to top-ranked Westside Christian and No. 2 De La Salle North Catholic.
Meanwhile, the Eagles are 5-5 overall, two losses coming via forfeit after a tough season dealing with COVID for Catlin Gabel. When the Eagles have been on the court, they have looked solid and have a win over a ranked 4A team in Corbett.
De La Salle North Catholic and Westside Christian are still the top dogs, but OES and Catlin Gabel are trying to rise to the occasion.
Estacada wrestling checks in at No. 5
After going 4-2 at the Oregon Classic tournament a week ago in Redmond, the Rangers are now No. 5 in the OSAA midseason coaches' poll.
Sophomore Cohen Schleich is leading the way at 132 pounds with a 24-2 record, 18 by pin. Schleich and many more are sure to make noise later in February at the Class 4A state tournament, which will be held Feb. 26 at Cascade High School.
Corbett girls hoops stay unbeaten
The Corbett girls basketball team continues to impress, moving to 14-0 on the season with two league-opening wins over North Marion and Gladstone.
The Cardinals are just one of three girls teams across the state and across classifications still unbeaten. Willamina is 13-0 in 3A and Livingstone Adventist Academy is 4-0 in 1A.
Up next will be a tough week for Corbett playing at No. 5 Gladstone at 7 p.m. Tuesday and then at home against Madras at 7 p.m. Friday.
Valley 10 boys race heats up
Open Door Christian Academy suffered its first loss of the season Jan. 18 against league rival and No. 8 Country Christian.
Despite the loss, the Huskies got back up and took down another tough league opponent in North Clackamas Christian to move to 5-1 in league and second place.
Trinity Academy is also lurking behind at 4-1, with both teams chasing Country Christian, which is already 9-0 in league play.
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