Dow, Falk give Lions a 1-2 all-league punch
Not just one but TWO St. Helens boys basketball players on the all-league first team?
We're not Lion to you — it's true. Seniors Drake Dow and Jacob Falk were both voted first-team all-Northwest Oregon Conference.
"We haven't had two guys from St. Helens be first-team all-league in ... I don't know how long," Lions coach Jordan Massinger said.
Suffice to say, it's been awhile. A long while.
Dow, a 5-foot-9 guard, was the engine behind the Lions' run to the Class 5A playoffs this season.
Falk, a 6-6 post, was the inside banger and workhorse.
Dow averaged 14 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds and 3.3 steals per game despite playing half the season on a bum ankle.
Falk gave St. Helens 20 points and 11 rebounds per game.
In a league with one perennial state power (Wilsonville), a highly regarded private school program (La Salle Prep) and a team loaded with athleticism (Parkrose), Dow and Falk managed to join players from those top-three squads on the elite all-conference team chosen by the NWOC's coaches.
Also from St. Helens, 6-2 senior guard Trenton Minich and 6-7 senior forward Owen Wolfe made the honorable mention team from a Lions crew that finished 11-14 overall — with seven losses by six points or less and by a total of 20 points.
Massinger said there was a simple reason why Dow was able to gain such lofty NWOC recognition.
"There's nobody more committed than him," the coach said. "He was up at 4 a.m. every day, he works hard on his game in the summer, gets to the gym, and plays for different AAU teams and travel teams and for our summer league team. He puts everything he can into every practice and game."
On top of the work ethic was what Dow gave the Lions between the lines on the court all season.
"He was our driving force," Massinger said.
And, to paraphrase a Carly Simon song that was a hit long before he was born, Dow didn't have time for the pain. He continued to play — pretty much all 32 minutes every night — on an ankle that was severely sprained.
"He wasn't able to perform at this peak level, but he wanted to be there for his teammates," Massinger said.
Dow led the state in steals per game and was second in assists behind all-NWOC guard Jack Roche of Wilsonville, Massinger said.
"Drake is an all-state passer, playmaker and point guard," his coach said. "Once he builds a bit more muscle and improves his outside shooting and free-throw percentage, he will be all but impossible for any opposing team to plan for."
Dow, also honored as an academic all-leaguer, hopes to play college basketball — "If anyone will have him, he says," Massinger said.
The coach calls his departing floor leader "a recipe for success if there ever was one. Drake is the type of player any coach would be proud to coach. He has a super bright future ahead of him. He has plans (to study) business and will be successful at anything his sets his mind to because he works hard and has a great attitude. I feel he will do great at any school. ... A class act all the way."
Falk, who had a 37-point game against Parkrose, also could be a sleeping giant of sorts for a college program, Massinger said.
"If a college that has a great player development program is looking for a player with a super high celing, he's their man," Massinger said. "He could be as good or better than just about everyone he's played against if he is put in the right system with the right motivation and coaching around him."
Falk, who is interested in engineering, has shown his aptitude off the court as well, building a car engine and repairing it frequently, Massinger noted.
"Jacob is funny, smart and about as athletic as they come," the coach added. "We will miss him and know he will do great things with his life."
League champion Wilsonville landed guard/wings Roche and Caleb Larsen on the all-league first team. Parkrose senior guard Justin Tran also made it, and La Salle Prep guard Jace Norton was chosen as NWOC Player of the Year.
Wilsonville's Chris Roche was the league's Coach of the Year.
Wilsonville, ranked fourth by the Oregon School Activities Association, went 14-0 in league. The Wildcats made it to Corvallis for this week's state tournament, which runs through Saturday.