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The boys and girls teams, set to begin action December 1, hope for more of a normal season.

Editor's Note: Since this story was published, the St. Helens School District has revised its planning and will play home basketball games at St. Helens High School through January. The original story follows below:

COURTESY PHOTO: MICHELLE NETT - St. Helens High girls basketball kicks off December 1. Due to construction and a remodel at St. Helens High School, the boys and girls basketball teams will be playing at a temporary location this season: The newly built middle school.

Despite this change of venue, the two squads are looking forward to their new season, which begins Dec. 1.

The girls, coached by Kyle Brayton, begin their season with an away game against Reynolds.

Brayton admits the last shortened season was challenging.

"We had our basketball season in the spring, as opposed to the winter," Brayton said. "It was very abrupt. It started kind of quickly. We didn't have the time to really set a foundation for the program — there were a lot of questions around the roster, there were questions about what the games are going to look like. Lots of unknowns."

This season, the Lions begin with a long road trip before their first home game, scheduled for Jan. 4 against Yamhill Carlton at the middle school.

Brayton said despite last season's challenges, he's looking forward to this season.

"We have a solid team of six seniors. It will be nice to have some leadership," Brayton said, noting, "I think this is going to be a nice peak at the future to kind of see the young talent that's going to get some varsity time."

Brayton said two sophomores, in particular, will likely become leaders of the program in years to come: Maisy McDole and Makenna Hardin."

"(McDole) is going to be one to watch not only this season, but in the future," Brayton said. "(Hardin) has good size and will be a force to be reckoned with in the post, down low."

The two players join six seniors, including Sarah Vanderwerf, who Brayton said is having an impressive year. "She's very aggressive. She knows how to move in the offense — she's positive, a good role model. She'll definitely be a good foundation for our offense."

Brayton pointed out another senior, Sarah Robinson.

"She plays solid defense," he said. "We're really excited to have her, even though we only have her for her senior year." Robinson is a senior transfer from Glencoe.

Even though the team was winless last season, the St. Helens girls coach looks forward to the new year.

"I am excited to see the seniors go out there and compete," he said. "I'm excited to see what the underclassmen, the younger ones, are going to bring to the table. I think it's going to be kind of a wildcard. We don't really know what to expect."

Brayton continued, "That's my main mindset as a coach, just getting better throughout the season and showing improvement."

On the boy's side, Coach Jake Ramiskey is equally excited about getting the season underway.

The boys face Banks Dec. 1 at the middle school. After that, the boys are on the road every game until January.

"We return nine out of the 11 guys we had on our varsity team last year, which is really nice," Ramiskey said. "You can tell at practice the guys that have been there before."

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, Ramiskey said, this year feels more like a normal season for the team.

"That looming quarantine thing can still come up if somebody is exposed to it," he said. "Other than that, we feel as normal as we can about the situation and happy to have a full schedule this year."

But that doesn't mean things will be smooth sailing.

"It's not being really a normal season for us because we're not playing at the high school this year," Ramiskey continued. "It's challenging, but we're working through it."

Ramiskey highlighted a couple of his players for the upcoming season. Neil Wolfe, a senior and three-year starter will lead the team, Ramiskey said.

"He's a very smart kid and a great student. He's kind of our anchor."

Another senior, Trevor Fitzgerald, has been a four-year varsity player.

"He is our point guard so he's our floor general," Ramiskey said. "Those two, we expect them to have a pretty big season for us — being kind of an extension of the coaches on the floor for us."

Competition will be tough for the boy's team this year.

"Our league is very tough from top to bottom," Ramiskey said. "Wilsonville is usually right there at the top. They are a very well coached program. We like to call them a machine because they do their thing and you know what you're going to get from them every time. La Salle Prep is another really tough school for us. They have a great coach."

Ramiskey continued, "I would say in the 5-A classification, our league is, top to bottom, the toughest league to play in, by far."

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