By Jeremy McDonald
SCAPPOOSE, Ore.– To say it’ll be an interesting way to start this season if you were the Cascade High School Girls Basketball team.
Entering their Hawaiian Team Trip, they were shifting line-ups around with a half-of-million things going on that had pretty much raised question on what the direction of this team might be here entering the 2018 Calendar year to finish up the preseason and with the Oregon West Conference-play.
Then, of course, you had that looming question of a once-in-a-generational kind of athlete in Halle Wright.
We all remember hearing that story of when the knee buckle during the fourth quarter of the game against Seaside in the Battle of the Mad Scientist-looking coaches in Cascade’s Mark Stevens and the Seagull’s Mike Hawes that left the Montana State-commit on the ground in pain and the yells of pain that echoed off the dead-quiet walls of a packed gym at Forest Grove High School that send chills down the spines of those in the stands.
Wright described it as the worst pain she’s ever felt as she was helped to the sidelines and was on crutches for the reminder of the tournament that the Cougars finished fourth in last season.
“The pain it was kind of a blur, I remember going down and screaming. Worst pain ever and then ever that it just went numb and by supporting my team, I had to listen to them and their complaints and I had to be a leader off the bench and tell them what to do and what their not seeing. I’m just happy I’m back,” smiled Wright on the injury.
“The recovery time…it wasn’t easy, I’m not going to lie but I had to focus on what I wanted in the long run and when I heard the words that I tore my ACL, it tore my heart. But then, I had to realize I still had my senior year and I had to work on trying to get back by half-the-season or even a little bit before so I reached that goal and it was pretty exciting.”
As the basketball season started, Wright was on the sidelines as she watched her team trying to piece it together without her while she was working her way back and starting off the season 3-4. Unheard of considering that Cascade only lost five times in the previous three seasons entering this season (73-5 in that span).
But for Wright who was sitting on the bench slowly coming back to full strength as her team was too, it was something new for a senior who’s played a ton of Varsity minutes in her career. She was warming up before games and going full-strength at practice just waiting for Coach Stevens to tell her to go to the scores table.
The student of the game, like Kobe Bryant and Michael Jordan, to have a chance to see the game from the bench and see the game from a different perspective allowed her to develop a better strategy when she got back onto the court.
“I just saw more gaps and openings on where to attack and where to play the call. What different teams are going to press us or not press us or zone,” said Wright. “So it was nice to kind of see the different kinds of openings and how much pressure they’re going to apply when I’m not on the court or when I’m on the court. So it was different to see.”
That day finally came when she got the nod on December 26, 2016 against Gladstone, Cascade took off in the win-column as they wheeled off wins against the Lady Gladitors (2-10), Corvallis (3-7) and Valley Catholic (9-4) to match their win-total prior to Wright’s return.
Against Scappoose, the Lady Cougars jumped out strong against the Lady Indians with 25 first half points. Wright led Cascade with 17 points, Kelsey Molan added another eight and Emma Woods scored six points as the Cougs sailed to a 45-26 victory for their fourth-straight win and putting the Lady Cougars at 7-4 on the year.
“Our practices have changed, we’re more focused and have our goals in our minds and we know what we want to do,” starts Woods. “And so having our practices harder and more focused, we’re seeing that result in the game and we’re growing and getting some chemistry that we were missing at the beginning of the season now that everyone’s back.
“The rest of the season looks hopeful if we keep doing what we’re doing.”
Lexi Loukojarvi, Gracie Rasmussen, Mayson Olson all had four points each. Riley Bangert and Emma Bjorkland both added another point each in the win.
And with another long road-trip Tuesday to Seaside to face the Lady Seagulls in the Post- Maddi Utti-era before closing out the pre-season at home versus Molalla Friday, Cascade are looking to continue to build from this foundation and continue to get healthy with league starting in two weeks against those Eagles on January 19.
“We got to take these two games and focus and really work out all the kinks that we’re struggling with right now so by league, we’re ready to go win league so we’re set up well for post-season,” smiled and laugh Woods as the Lady Cougs load up the buses for the trip back to Turner.
Mini-Photo Gallery By Jeremy McDonald