By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.— When Ethan Flannigan went into the stands against Bend February 2, breaking his hand bracing for the fall, the Sprague Olympian Boys Basketball squad was thrusted into the future of sorts without their Senior big-man.
Flannigan being their lone senior on a squad that reached the first-round of the 6A postseason in 2018-2019, gave an opportunity for the Olys to see where they could go entering this season.
Sprague finished 15-10 and 8-6 in Mountain Valley Conference play, good for a three-way tie for third with McNary and Mountain View.
“It’s good because we got our whole team back, we’ve only lost one player,” said Mason Lomax. “We’ve got a lot of chemistry together already as it is, we should be pretty good.”
Lomax was a first-team all MVC selection last year. Kobe Withers was second-team and Greyson Salias was Honorable Mention with all three returning this season.
The trick will be now, as second-year Sprague Head Coach Jordan Granteo pushes them through a light Thursday evening workout, how do they build upon that team chemistry entering this season? How much will transition and translate into this year entering their team retreat this weekend?
It’ll be important no matter what route they go to do it as they hope to be that Dark Horse to dethrone a reloaded South Salem team on the other side of town.
“We were a young crew last year so we all grew. We’re all a year older, so we’re going to be a lot more experienced…so it’ll be good for us,” said Lomax.
“We’re going to do the same thing we do and just go out there, play our butts off and go get a win. We’re not going to back down to anybody this year,” adds Withers. “I definitely believe we can win league this year, so we’re going to do that.”
The main focus is the league title yes, but on the other side of that conversation will be the Chiles Center. The last time Sprague has gotten to the double elimination bracket was 1989.
Two years ago they almost broke the streak before the hot-hand of Barlow ended that run in the 6A second-round, that was the furthest the Olympians have gone in recent years.
With a tough preseason slate that includes the defending State Champs in Jesuit, Westview, North Medford and Barlow all who have reached the second round; the hope is there that it will pay off not just in league, but come playoff time as well.
“So we have a really tough schedule this year actually. We’re playing some of the top teams out-of-league right off the bat and I think that’s going to prepare us for a good playoff run this year,” said Withers.
Sprague tips off the season December 6 at Westview.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald