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Huskies had yet to lose in 2020, qualified for quarterfinals fourth straight year

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion senior Katie Ensign was denied the opportunity to compete in a fourth-consecutive state quarterfinal tournament after the OSAA canceled the remainder of the winter state championships.
In any other year, ending the season on a 17-game win streak would be cause for celebration. But then, of course, this isn't any other season.

In the wake of the cancellation of the 2020 4A State Championship tournaments in Forest Grove due to concerns over the outbreak of COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, the North Marion girls and boys basketball teams are left contemplating what could have been.

"I don't know what to feel like," North Marion girls basketball head coach Trevor Bodine said. "I'm just really disappointed, kind of angry — all the emotions, I guess."

The No. 6 North Marion girls (19-6) were preparing to face off against the No. 3 Hidden Valley Mustangs (23-2) later that evening when Bodine was notified that the Oregon School Activities Association had decided to cancel the remaining state championship competitions scheduled to take place over the weekend.

"(OSAA Associate Director) Kelly Foster called me last night and told me they were going to do it without fans," Bodine recalled. "Twelve hours later, they weren't doing it at all."

Bodine's team was scheduled to make its fourth consecutive quarterfinal appearance since he took over the program for the 2016-17 season and carried with it a 17-game win streak — the longest during his tenure with the Huskies. After opening the season with a 2-6 record, North Marion had won every game in 2020, starting with a three-game sweep in the Crusader Classic New Year's Invitational Jan. 2-4.

"I feel bad for Katie more than anything," Bodine said, referring to the team's lone senior — Katie Ensign — who has been a member of all four quarterfinal teams. "Both the boys and us had a real shot this year too."

Ensign was the lone freshman on the varsity team when Bodine took over for long-time North Marion coach Dennis Melcher four years ago. That team finished second in the Oregon West Conference behind the league champion Cascade Cougars, advancing to the quarterfinal tournament where the Huskies finished with a sixth-place trophy.

The following year, North Marion struggled in the regular season, finishing 6-4 and tied for third place in the league standings behind Cascade and Stayton. But the Huskies righted the ship in the final month of the season, going 8-2 down the stretch, including postseason wins over South Umpqua, Junction City and Hidden Valley to advance to the state semifinals.

Their finals-bid was denied in a two-point loss to Cascade and the Huskies went on to finish with a third-place trophy.

Last year's team was the first of back-to-back unbeaten seasons in league play for North Marion as the team returned to the Tri-Valley Conference. The Huskies carried a 12-game win streak into the state quarterfinals, but their championship hopes were dashed by an uncharacteristically poor shooting night against Newport, and the team went on to finish fourth overall.

This year's team was preparing to challenge for that elusive state title, looking to knock off a Hidden Valley program they had beaten in the quarterfinals two years earlier.

"We've watched a lot of film over the last two weeks. We had a really good game plan in place. We had a new defense ready to go," Bodine said. "We were feeling pretty confident about our chances in the quarters."

Ultimately the Huskies and the seven other quarterfinalist teams will be left this year wondering what could have been.

"Which I suppose is true for a lot of teams," Bodine said. "That's the sad part. The girls were executing it really well in practice, and now we won't get to see it.

"We'll have a get together, go out and eat," he said. "Kind of put a lid on the season sometime next week I imagine."

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