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The Bulldogs have had regular season success and parlayed it into playoff wins, anticipate similar 2021-22 campaign

WOODBURN, Ore. — Woodburn's boys basketball team is once again eyeing a postseason berth. The boys' team has grown accustomed to making it out of the regular season, reaching at least the play-in round for the last six years straight.

More recently the Bulldogs made deeper pushes into the state tournament. In 2018 they made it to the 4A state semifinals; in 2019 they qualified for the quarterfinals before the whole postseason was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; and in spring 2021 the team made it the 4A Showcase Final 4.

It's been a consistent level of performance that the team this year hopes to surpass.

Woodburn has five returning varsity players for the 2021-22 season, including a pair of all-conference athletes in senior point guard Tomas Veliz and junior shooting guard Spencer Karsseboom. Woodburn boys basketball head coach Tomas Veliz expects Veliz to lead the team on offense and be aggressive on defense, and Karsseboom to lead the team in scoring.

PMG FILE PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Senior Tomas Veliz will be one of the leaders of the Woodburn boys basketball team this season. The team looks to return to the postseason once again.

Other returning players include junior Antonio Carrasquillo, junior Kaleb Robles, and senior Jony Cruz. Those returners anchor a competitive squad that is aiming to win the Oregon West Conference and at a minimum reach the final eight. It's going to take everyone, coaches and players, being focused on excelling, according to coach Raul Veliz.

"We have to get to a point where we show up to every game and compete," Veliz said. "We need to have the mentality that if we can compete to our best level, we put ourselves in a great position to win the game. One of the biggest keys to helping with this as well is the ability for our players to learn and grow in their roles for our team's chemistry."

The competition will be as stiff as ever in the OWC. In the preseason coaches poll, Woodburn was ranked ninth, but three other league foes were included in the top 10 of the poll: Cascade (No. 2), Philomath (No. 4), and Stayton (No. 10). Other difficult outs for the Bulldogs include nonleague matchups with 5A South Albany and Hood River Valley, 6A Grants Pass, and Marist Catholic.

"There will be a lot of top talent in the league this year, including some of our players, so it will be fun to watch these games and see these players out there competing game in and game out," Veliz said. "It will be a tough game schedule this year, but we look forward to playing and competing in these games every day."

Woodburn's first game of the season will be on the road against South Albany (0-1) at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 3.


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