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Wolfe, a senior who plays center, is a key player for St. Helens High School basketball.

COURTESY PHOTO: NEIL WOLFE - St. Helens High School senior Neil Wolfe (seen here in yellow jersey) is ready to tackle tough opponents this season.It's hard to say if the new COVID-19 variant, omicron, which is highly transmissible, will affect future indoor sports activities, such as prep basketball.

But for now, St. Helens High School boys basketball will proceed in a more normal direction. And that's just fine with senior Neil Wolfe, who plays center for the Lions.

Wolfe, who lives in Columbia City, has played basketball all four years at St. Helens High.

He said he followed televised sports as a youngster and grew up playing catch with his father and older brother.

"I always read box scores in newspapers," recalled Wolfe, who has played baseball and basketball since he was a youngster of 4 or 5.

Last season was tough on Wolfe and his teammates, thanks to COVID-19 restrictions, with the virus making it hard to conduct practices.

"We only had two or three practices, or something like that, before we played our first game, and we didn't play as many games last season," Wolfe said. "I feel like it was hard to find motivation last season."

But this is a new season, and Wolfe highlighted a couple of his teammates, including starting point guard, Trevor Fitzgerald, who is also a senior.

"I've been playing basketball with him my whole life," Wolfe said. "He's been starting to pick it up these last couple of games. He did get hurt a little bit the last game, but we should have him back soon. He's been doing great this season."

Wolfe pointed out a couple of other seniors, Zack Robinson and Kodi Miller.

"They both didn't play last season," he said, "They decided to play this season, and it has been a big help in terms of more minutes from them."

Wolfe is also pleased with the juniors who are on the varsity team.

"One of them is Tyler Tolles, another starting guard," Wolfe said. "He has also definitely been a big help."

The team is winless in its first four non-league games, which were held in December. The season resumes Jan. 4 with a contest at Yamhill-Carlton.

As for upcoming league games, Wolfe pointed out the traditional favorites.

"Wilsonville is always a team that goes to state championships every year," Wolfe said. "Then there's also La Salle. They always have a pretty good group of guys."

Giving a shoutout to his coach, Jake Ramiskey, Wolfe said, "I think he always preaches about family and togetherness. He just wants us to have fun."

Wolfe has not decided on a college but would like to play college basketball if the opportunity presented itself.

"If that doesn't work out, I definitely do want to go to college, higher education," Wolfe said.

Looking ahead, and despite those tough league games Wolfe mentioned, he remains optimistic.

"I think we should be able to beat every team in our league," he said. "At least, I think that's how we should look at it."

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