By Jeremy McDonald
STAYTON, Ore.— Stayton High School Girls Basketball Head Coach Melissa Hollenbeck pointed out the two pictures of the Stayton High School State Championship Teams of 1995 and talked about how different the state bracket is.
She knows this as a player, being a part of the 1995 State Championship team and was part of the second-place team the year before and the sixth-place team the year after the 1995 squad.
“The most important thing is to be excited on where you’re at for sure,” said Hollenbeck about the purpose of her speech. “But to remain calm and still play our game and not let that excitement overcome what you’re setting out to do.
“A lot of teams that have not been in that position before can potentially allow things to stand in that way, a little nervousness; it’s ok to be nervous. You have to set that aside and once you get into the game and start focusing on the different things you need to do to be able to get it done.”
The excitement is worth it however.
For the first time in several years, the Stayton Lady Eagles are now back in the bracket following their overtime thriller over Elmira this past Friday, they know how important that momentum is to carry against the second-ranked team in Oregon:
Banks High School.
“We can take our win against Elmira and keep that intensity that we had in that game,” said Rachel Doran. “Just bring it to practice and keep the intensity, keep the encouragement, keep all the positive attitudes up and on Friday and make sure it just explodes.”
Outside of Brookings-Harbor, Hollenbeck pointed out that Banks High School is one of the toughest places to play at come playoff time.
But Hollenbeck knows it’ll be a good experience for her team.
“It’s always been a tough place in a playoff setting, they’ve gone to state quite a few times in the past,” said Hollenbeck. “But the atmosphere up there, it’s one of those things that I’m glad we are going there to play because it gives the girls a great experience to go on with a playoff atmosphere is, what a state tournament atmosphere is.
“So we’re looking forward to that and then to not to be overwhelmed, but to come out and play their style. I want the girls to focus on that and hold that near and dear that they can put anything that they set their minds to, they just have to go out there and do it.”
The home league of the Braves, the Cowpa League, was the league to beat this year. Banks, Seaside, Valley Catholic, all at least ranked ninth or better in the state.
Having experience against the top teams in the state, including the Seagulls and rival Cascade, confidence is high for Banks.
“I don’t think we’re intimidated at all,” said Doran on the Braves. “We just have to go out there and play our game.”
Tip-off for this showdown is Friday at Banks High School at 7pm.
Jeremy McDonald is a professional sports journalist in the Salem/Portland area and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalist in Oregon with B.S. degrees from Southern Oregon University in Journalism (2011) and Health/PE (2013). Got a story idea? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @J_McDonald81