Hoops notes: Columbia River stretches win streak to 10

Extra notes: Hudson’s Bay girls getting used to winning; Skyview to take on Union in key Class 4A boys game; and more

The winning streak has reached double digits at Columbia River.

The boys basketball team improved to 13-2 overall and 7-0 in the Class 2A Greater St. Helens League in its last game, Friday against Ridgefield, and now the Chieftains are looking forward to the stretch run.

They are not, however, looking past anybody, despite winning every league game by 10 or more points.

“Coach (David) Long always reminds us that this league isn’t going to be easy. We keep that in mind,” said junior Jack Armstrong, who had 10 points in River’s 41-25 victory over Ridgefield on Friday. “Upsets happen in basketball. We don’t want it to happen to us. We know Mark Morris is right behind us, too. That keeps us motivated. Can’t slip up one game.”

The Chieftains realize 7-0 is a big deal, a big step toward the league title. But it is not 12-0. That is what they want.

“We just want to prove we are the best, that we’re the top dogs” said Nasseen Gutierrez, who had a team-high nine rebounds in the win over the Spudders. “We have to prove we are at the top of the league.”

Columbia River’s Nasseen Gutierrez (32), who led the team in rebounds against Ridgefield Friday, said it one of the keys to success this season as been the sharing of the spotlight between teammates. Photo by Mike Schultz
Columbia River’s Nasseen Gutierrez (32), who led the team in rebounds against Ridgefield Friday, said it one of the keys to success this season as been the sharing of the spotlight between teammates. Photo by Mike Schultz

So far, the Chieftains are doing that with a lot of help from everyone. Jacob Hjort is the team’s leading scorer but the team can win without him having to put up 20 or 25 points. Hjort was slowed a bit by an injury in Friday’s game but still scored six points to go with six rebounds and five assists.

Armstrong and Evan Dirksen had it going early in a game that River never trailed. Armstrong scored the first six points and when River had an 8-0 lead, Dirksen already had four rebounds and a blocked shot.

“When anyone gets hot, everyone else is supportive,” Armstrong said. “That team chemistry is really good this year.”

Gutierrez ended up with the team lead in rebounds this night. Nate Snook came off the bench and tied Armstrong for the scoring lead with 10 points.

Columbia River’s Jack Armstrong (24) goes strong to the basket against Ridgefield. Armstrong scored his team’s first six points and River never trailed in the team’s 10th consecutive victory. Photo by Mike Schultz
Columbia River’s Jack Armstrong (24) goes strong to the basket against Ridgefield. Armstrong scored his team’s first six points and River never trailed in the team’s 10th consecutive victory. Photo by Mike Schultz

“That’s pretty normal for us,” Gutierrez said of sharing the key stats. “Our team has a lot of talent. Everyone can score. Everyone can defend. Everyone has their own time.”

Or they combine skills to make key moments. One of the highlights for River against Ridgefield involved three Chieftains. Gutierrez got a steal but fell down while maintaining his dribble. But he was about to be surrounded by defenders when Hjort came to the rescue. Gutierrez got the ball to Hjort, who then unleashed a quick no-look pass to Snook for a three-point play that gave River a 10-point lead in the second quarter.

Add up all the numbers, it is a 10-game win streak. Columbia River’s last loss came against 17-0 Skyview in a non-league contest.

“Me and my teammates are doing the most we can to get our wins,” Gutierrez said.

By sharing the ball, the spotlight, the Chieftains are heading toward bigger things beyond league play. That’s the goal, anyway.

Columbia River senior Jacob Hjort (12) in an all-around basketball player, not just a scorer. In a game last week, he was slowed by an injury but still managed to fill up the stat sheets in all areas of the game. Photo by Mike Schultz
Columbia River senior Jacob Hjort (12) in an all-around basketball player, not just a scorer. In a game last week, he was slowed by an injury but still managed to fill up the stat sheets in all areas of the game. Photo by Mike Schultz

Hudson’s Bay girls get a signature win:

It has got to be one of the biggest victories in years for the Hudson’s Bay Eagles. Sure, they had won three league games in a row going into last week’s matchup against Kelso. But Kelso has been a top team in the league, behind Prairie, of course, but often the top team after Prairie.

As of today though, Hudson’s Bay is tied with Kelso in second place in the Class 3A Greater St. Helens League after Bay’s thrilling victory over the Hilanders on Friday.

Jaydia Martin made two free throws with no time left on the clock, lifting Bay to a 42-41 win.

Kelso beat the Eagles by 15 earlier in the season.

“The team is so excited. Bay has not been to the playoffs for 10 years, and it has been difficult to get any wins the last few years,” coach Michael Rainville said. “But after losing in early January to Kelso and beating Mountain View and Evergreen, the girls believed that they could win if they played well.”

Rainville said it took time this season for players and coaches to find the right system that worked best for the Eagles.

“Players have become used to the roles they need to play for the team to be successful,” the coach said. “At first we were getting significant contributions from just two players. Now other players are having an impact.”

Here are a few of the individuals making a big difference for the Eagles, according to Rainville:

  • Martin is the team’s top scorer and the team’s top ball handler.
  • Kamelai Powell is a “rebounding machine” and second-leading scorer.
  • Ashley Rodriguez “has emerged” as a third option on offense.
  • Shelby DeLong has improved. “We began winning when she became a starter.”
  • Stacia Mikaele is a strong rebounder with a “defensive presence.”

Bay takes on Prairie on Tuesday night. That’s a tough task for any team. Still, if Bay can keep it going and win out after taking on the Falcons, the Eagles could very well find themselves in a tie for second place at the end of the regular season.


Skyview at Union, be there:

The Skyview Storm will be playing for a Class 4A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball championship Tuesday night.

Just wanted to get that sentence up front. To let that sink in, to note the importance of the contest. To remind folks that Skyview is now a boys basketball school, too.

Of course, in order to clinch tonight, the Storm have to beat the boys basketball program that has been THE program in Clark County for years.

Skyview plays at Union tonight, going for its 18th consecutive win overall.

The Storm held Union scoreless in the final two minutes of their first matchup, rallying for a victory.

Union not only wants revenge but wants to defend as a league champion. Union, more than likely, needs a win tonight in order for that to be a possibility.

If Skyview wins, it will improve to 6-0 in league play, and with a two-game lead over Union and Battle Ground with two games to play. In other words, if Skyview wins tonight, the Storm will be assured of at least a co-title.

If Union wins, both teams will have one loss in league play and will have split the season series. Then both teams will have to focus on finishing out the schedule without any setbacks.


Camas girls still in command, but Skyview improving:

Another league game, another win for Camas. The Papermakers are 5-0 in league play and will take on second-place Union on Friday in a game that could determine the Class 4A GSHL girls title.

Last week, Camas got past Skyview, pulling away in the fourth quarter for an 11-point win.

For Skyview, that has to be seen as progress, though. The Storm lost by 49 in the first outing versus Camas.

It is a good sign for new coach Brett Johnson, who took over a rebuilding situation for one of the top programs in the county, through the years.


Washougal winning:

We got a chance to watch the Washougal girls play last week. Since then, the Panthers have won two more games … easily. They are in control in the 2A GSHL.

Here’s our story from last week:

 


Trico update:

The La Center boys and girls teams continue to roll.

The La Center boys are 6-0 and take on second-place King’s Way Christian (4-2) on Tuesday.

Watch out for Seton Catholic, too. The Cougars are 3-3 in league but have won five of their last six overall.

The La Center girls do not expect to be challenged in league play but do take on second-place King’s Way Christian on Tuesday.

Here’s a shout-out to the Knights, playing under coach Randy Graves, who are now 5-1 in league play, two games ahead of the third-place teams.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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