By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Santiam was a quick fill-in for the Oregon Madness Tournament at The Pac Monday afternoon after Butte Falls had to bow out of the Summer League-feature due to Covid-issues within the program.
The tournament featured schools from 1A like St. Paul to 6A in the Wolverines’ opposition in West Salem. The idea is to include as many teams as possible regardless of classifications, creating a sense of Madness.
And like the Buckaroos of St. Paul caused some first half antics to 6A North Medford, Santiam did similarly against the Titans of the Mountain Valley Conference. Sustaining their energy throughout for the 75-69 win to set-up a match-up with Yamhill-Carlton Tuesday afternoon.
“We had a lot of fun. Its just fun being back on the court again and starting the summer off right,” Santiam’s Chaz Storm said.
The Wolverines are coming off a 5-3 season where they finished third in the traditionally tough Tri-River Conference and took 2A State Runner-Up Columbia Christian to Double Overtime before falling 58-55 as they only graduate one Senior from their squad.
West Salem had graduated seven seniors from their 11-3 squad, bringing up some Junior Varsity squad to pick up some valuable Varsity experience as incoming sophomore Connor Oertal matched Storm’s 30 points in the fast-paced first-round game.
“I think it was really good…playing at the Varsity level really helped us develop skills,” Oertal said. “It was really big for us to compete at that level, I think it was good for our team to see all that stuff.”
With Santiam losing a lot of Seniors from their fourth-place team in 2020, they had next to no time to build team chemistry with one another as it was a trial-by-fire for them this past Spring. Storm, Ty Best and Gage Twede helped the team out as Ezra Downey worked his way back from an injury as they’ll have a full summer to work together.
The Wolverines built a 67-57 lead on the Titans in the early going of the fourth quarter before West Salem answered with a 9-0 run. Putting the small-school from Mill City in a log-jam to finish the job that they did, finishing the game on a 8-2 advantage to advance in the 16-team bracket.
“It was important for us to make plays down the stretch. I heard (West) didn’t have a couple of their Varsity players, but they were still a very competitive team, they played hard,” said Storm. “We got to play as hard as we did. Yamhill is a really good team, so we really have to play our very best basketball tomorrow.”
Day 2 starts at 9am as Sprague and Canby finish up the first round, the winner plays at 5pm against South Medford as the consolation bracket following the Olympian-Cougars game.
De La Salle North Catholic over Jefferson 72-56
Yamhill-Carlton over Central 90-41
South Medford 96, North Salem 26
St. Paul Falls to North Medford by 19
Grant Over Roseburg 100-43
Photos By Jeremy McDonald