Capitol City Classic And Its Local Twist

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

SALEM, Ore.–  The West Salem Boys Basketball team will be looking to defend their Capitol City Classic Title this December at Willamette University.  The Titans became the first Oregon-based team to have won the tournament, now entering its seventh-year, to win the Title as they hope to do it again this year.

” It is an honor to be the first team from Oregon to win the CCC.  It is one the major accomplishments of the program.  As this tournament continues to grow and become a Marquee event we will always be the ones who did it “first.”  One of the best parts of the tournament last year was the Semi-final and Championship nights.  Both of those games had great atmosphere and really highlighted High School basketball,” West Salem Head Coach Travis Myers said   ” Being the defending champion is extremely cool for our kids.  My hope is that it gives this year’s group a confidence boost knowing that it is possible to win the event and compete with the best.  This year’s field is loaded so we know it will be exponentially more difficult than previous years.  Our goal for the tournament is to give ourselves a chance to win each night.  We are playing one of the more difficult schedules since I have been here and this tournament will be a challenge, but the hope is that we will be able to compete each night and propel us into league play.”

This year’s field includes St. John Bosco from Bellflower, California. Modesto Christian also from California,as well as John Paul II from Texas as the out-of-state schools coming to the Classic.  West Linn and Beaverton are some of the in-state talent as well as several local schools from Silverton, West Salem, Central, Sprague, South Salem, Cascade and even 2A Regis in the Boys Bracket that’s being held at Willamette University December 16-21.  The Rams are following suit with what Salem Academy did last year by accepting their invite into the CCC.

“Giving as many schools as possible – regardless of size — matters to us.  The small schools we have invited — these weren’t “charity invites”… they are always teams that can play the game at a high level.  They have players who can really play, just like the big schools. We don’t discriminate in terms of invitations at all – we want to get everyone in the area who is good involved, and we try to invite the best of the best each year,” Assistant Tournament Director Jack Roche starts.    “It’s been really cool to see the big school success at the CCC, too. In just the past couple of events, West, Silverton, and South have all been in the semifinals or better. Sprague also has been on the winners side of the bracket a bunch over the years.  McNary, when they play, has always been competitive. 

“But, there have also been great small school successes. Cascade went 3-1 and took fifth in their inaugural CCC last year, and they went on to win the 4A OSAA state championship. Salem Academy beat the #1 5A school at the time in Crescent Valley at last year’s CCC, and they went on to make the 2A state championship game. These programs are used to winning and are not afraid of playing anybody, and have shown – when they get opportunities, they make the most of them.  And at the end of the day, when state tourney time comes around, the CCC teams are battle-tested and typically do very well.”

The Crusaders finished 2A State Runner-Up in 2022 to Western Christian, the Cougars won their first 4A State Title since 1974 last season as well.

And all the local teams playing in the Tournament is something spectacular, they’re the backbone to the event and the Capitol City Classic wanted to center the tournament around them.

“For us, our tournament is centered around our local, Mid-Valley teams. They truly are the backbone of our event. We want to give our kids, coaches and programs locally the opportunity to play and compete against incredible individual talent and the nation’s best programs, and hopefully give them the opportunity to show what they can do while also creating some amazing memories,” Roche said.

“We are really excited about the direction of the event. It feels like we have taken big steps forward the past couple of years, and we are pumped that our local interest has only continued to grow with time – which is amazing – because local teams buying in and being excited about the CCC is crucial to who we want to be. We have some new and fun things this year happening behind-the-scenes that we think will only bolster our relationship with the Mid-Valley community.

Last year’s Capitol City Classic was a first for the girls teams with the Mid-Valley Showcase at Willamette University.  Silverton, South Salem and McNary took part in it.  The Foxes, who finished in the Top 8 in 5A return as well as the Saxons, who were a 6A State Playoff team in 2022 with the girls having a three-day tournament at Corban University December 19-21.  West Salem, coming off a second-round appearance in the 6A Bracket, jois the eight-team field with Central of Independence as local teams partaking in the inaugural year of the Girls Bracket. Oregon City, Willamette, Putnam and Newberg round out the eight-team bracket.

“I thought it was awesome that the classic opened it up to the girls’ teams. It was fun playing on a college court against a great team like Silverton. It was great for us because it showed the players and coaches where we were at and how we could improve. Especially heading into the PIL tournament. It was an honor to be one of the local teams selected for this tournament,” South Salem Head Coach Adrian Lewis said of the Showcase in 2021.  “Again we are honored to be chosen for this tournament and glad they have expanded it to more. I think this tournament will only get bigger and bigger so hopefully we can continue to be a part of it. Being on a college court also helps prepare teams for the state tournament.”

For more information about the Capitol City Classic visit their site at https://www.capitolcityclassic.com/ .

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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