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Indians beat Astoria and Central in non-league play, hoping to contend in the NWOC

PMG FILE PHOTO - Kyle Negelspach of Scappoose whips a pass under the basket and across the court in the Indians  opening game of the season. Negelspach is one of the key variables in the NWOC equation this season.

The Northwest Oregon Conference is no joke when it comes to boys' basketball.

Wilsonville is a Class 5A giant, one that's built a state championship culture under head coach Chris Roche. La Salle reached the 5A state tournament last year. Parkrose was a mere point away from joining both NWOC flagships in Corvallis. Putnam went 13-9 overall, yet still finished 10th in the 5A power rankings thanks to the strength of the conference.

Scappoose went winless in league play and suffered through an 18-game losing streak that included two losses to archnemesis St. Helens by a combined three points. The Indians dropped their first six games of this year as well. Yet, Scappoose snapped the dry spell with an overdue 62-56 win over Astoria and later clipped Central in a 56-49 triumph at the Capitol Classic. The squad's confidence is beginning to grow. They gave 4A superpower Seaside a competitive game and scrapped with Thurston, a 5A state tournament staple.

With NWOC beginning next week, Scappoose doesn't see itself as a spoiler, but a bid stealer, a team that can come out of nowhere and grab one of the league's four playoff berths.

PMG FILE PHOTO - Scappoose shooting guard Jake Boyle has been one of the Indians early-season standouts so far this year. "Our long-term goals are to get some wins in the NWOC, we really think there are some opportunities for us," Scappoose head coach Matthew Humphreys said. "Wilsonville is the best team in our league. I think after that it is going to be very competitive. Milwaukie looks strong this season."

Some of Scappoose's standouts are Jake Boyle, Kyle Negelspach, and Luke McNabb.

"Jake has really come into his own converting to a point guard, he is handling pressure well and making plays for our team," Humphreys said. "Kyle is really shooting the ball well for us. He has been a consistent deep threat for our team. Luke has led our team in rebounding. He has been very versatile on offense for us."

Humphreys said Scappoose's keys are the same as ever: get stops on defense, make shots, and limit turnovers on offense. Handle those responsibilities and the Indians can inflict some in-conference damage.

"I am very pleased with our progress on handling pressure and defensive rotations," Humphreys said.

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