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Buckaroo hoops round-up: Boys up and down in league play while girls maintain their dominance

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - The St. Paul girls basketball team is undefeated and ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, looking ahead to a matchup with No. 1 Crane.The St. Paul girls basketball team has picked up a quartet of blowout victories since Jan. 10, running over Jewell 75-17, Crosshill Christian 65-25, Falls City 83-35 and Livingstone Adventist 73-21. It was the continuation of a stellar season for the Bucks (17-0, 8-0 Casco League) as they enter the final month of their campaign.

Coach Dave Matlock said the experienced, talented Bucks have their sights set on another state championship. They have been putting in the work to achieve that goal, he said, and younger players have been stepping into their roles seamlessly while the veterans lead the way.

"Our defense continues to be really strong," Matlock said. "Even though we haven't played many tough teams in league, we haven't gone soft on defense and our running game is getting into high gear. The diversity of kids scoring the ball has been great as well, particularly by freshmen."

Since recovering from an ankle injury, lanky freshman wing Anabelle Davidson has shined for the Bucks. Coming off the bench and occasionally starting, Matlock said she provides athleticism and a scoring punch for the team.

"Anabelle has been starting a lot, splitting the time with Karlee Southerland," Matlock said. "She has a lot of talent and is gifted in a lot of ways. It's pretty scary for other teams in the future that we have freshmen contributing like they are."

Freshman guard Frankie Lear has been contributing off the bench for the Bucks as well, adding to the swath of young players ready to come in once this year's talented senior class graduates.

Matlock said the close-knit nature of this team – and its chemistry on the court – took some work, but he is happy with how it is developing as the squad prepares for a crucial stretch.

"We've been playing good ball and the team is gelling on and off the court," Matlock said. "Getting a chance to know each other and do some team bonding is really beneficial for us on the court. We saw that last year and it's coming together again this year. You may not always like each other every day, but you have to love and respect each other every day, and the girls are buying into that."

Chemistry has translated to unselfishness on the court, Matlock said, a trend that has to continue in his view if they are to beat the likes of No. 1 Crane. The No. 2 Bucks face Crane in a neutral site game at Bend High School on Jan. 25 – a potential state championship game preview between two undefeated powerhouses.

Matlock said the bonding opportunity of the trip to Bend – combined with the obvious importance of the game – should make for a crucial Saturday night for the Bucks.

"They are absolutely the real deal," Matlock said of Crane. "They're a year older now and have improved immensely. They are more physical with another year under their belt and are more consistently effective. If I had to pick one team that everyone has to beat including us, it's them."

SPHS boys pick up win Monday

After a pair of league victories against Oregon School for the Deaf on Jan. 7 and Jewell on Jan. 10, the St. Paul boys basketball team lost two consecutive games last week before beating Livingstone Adventist 50-46 on the road Monday. The Bucks (6-11, 5-3 Casco League) lost 63-38 to Crosshill Christian and 60-52 to Falls City in the games prior.

St. Paul hosts Willamette Valley Christian on Friday before a Tuesday night tilt at Perrydale on Jan. 28. The girls team will play those games as well on either side of their trip to Bend to face Crane.


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