NORTHWEST OREGON NATURALS: St. Helens boys' hoops alone atop conference
The Lions rejoice atop the Northwest Oregon Conference as New Year's Weekend approaches.
St. Helens beat No. 6 first-time Class 4A champion Seaside 67-60 Wednesday in the Jungle, realized last season's win total in improving to 5-4 overall and jumped above eighth-ranked back-to-back Class 5A king Wilsonville (4-4 and idle until its Sunday game at Cardinal Spellman High, 3,120 miles away in Brockton, Mass.) for the conference lead.
"It's awesome," said Drake Dow, a senior guard who scored 12 points in avenging last year's 93-63 road loss to the Seagulls (8-2). "It's something I've been looking forward to for a long time, and I'm really excited to see what other big things we can do this season."
The Lions are unbeaten in their first five home games, their best such start since they began 4-1 in their friendly confines in 2008-09, and only St. Helens and Class 4A third-ranked Newport (6-4) have shelled Seaside this winter.
The Lions led the Seagulls 15-7 through a quarter and 37-20 at intermission Wednesday, but Seaside trimmed their deficit to 48-39 with 3-pointers and a full-court press at 1:38 in the third.
"I didn't want to call a timeout, I wanted [us] to weather the storm," St. Helens coach Jordan Massinger said. "Trenton [Minich] and Joe [Rea] can fill it up every night."
Minich's back-to-back 3's, the first from the top-left of the arc and the second from the top right, reinflated the lead to double digits at 60-50 with 2:20 left in the fourth.
Chris Beatty found himself behind the press inside the left of midcourt, and his layup resisted a Seagulls streak to keep the Lions up 65-56 at 1:38.
"They like to focus on Drake, but if I slip out the back, I can get a wide-open layup," said Beatty, a junior forward and an x-factor who led his side with 14 points.
Jacob Falk reached double figures with 12 points, and Minich and Owen Wolfe came away with 11 and 10 respective points.
"Chris is an energy guy off the bench," Massinger said. "Owen, Jacob and Chris should be the best three-man rotation in the conference."
St. Helens, happy to keep the ball from Seaside ahead 65-58 inside of 20 seconds left, swung the ball from the right perimeter to the top of the key and, with a Seagulls foul, Minich rewarded the Lions' patience with a pair of free throws as eight seconds lingered.
"In the end we got tired and they had an extra gear left, but we finished," Massinger said.
Junior guards Chase Januik and Payton Westerholm sparked Seaside with 18 and 11 respective points.
St. Helens has a chance to open 2018 with its sixth win and its third in a row for the first time since it reached the play-in round in 2012-13, as it faces Hood River Valley, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 3 in Hood River.
The Lions opened 2017 beating the Eagles 51-48 at home, and Hood River Valley scores 60 points against 61 per game as of Thursday.
St. Helens leads the state in points for (603) and points against (614).
Wednesday in St. Helens
S 7 13 21 19 -- 60
SH 15 22 13 17 -- 67
SEASIDE (8-2) -- Chase Januik 18, Payton Westerholm 11, Brayden Johnson 9, Beau Johnson 9, Duncan Thompson 7, Astor Landwehr 4, Dylan Meyer 2. 3-point goals -- 9 (Brayden Johnson 3, Beau Johnson 3, Westerholm 2, Januik). Total fouls -- 18. Totals 21 9-16 60.
ST. HELENS (5-4) -- Chris Beatty 14, Jacob Falk 12, Drake Dow 12, Trenton Minich 11, Owen Wolfe 10, Joe Rea 5, Gavin Knoke 3. 3-point goals -- 5 (Minich 2, Knoke, Dow, Rea). Total fouls -- 14. Fouled out -- Wolfe. Totals 23 16-20 67.