Previews of winter sports seasons at Baker County schools.



Of the Baker City Herald

Many Greater Oregon League boys basketball coaches are pointing to Baker as the team to beat when the season kicks off this weekend.

The Bulldogs, who just missed making the post season a year ago after tying for the final playoff berth but losing a tie-breaker, return six players from that squad.

Leading that group for Coach Craig Woods are returning starters Dave Mullins, Eddie Ceja and Mitch Grove.

Mullins and Ceja, both seniors, will supply much of the Bulldogs outside scoring this season.

Grove, a 6-foot-8 junior, will anchor the post position.

The other returning players, all seniors, are Justin Merritt, Greg Goodenough and Matt Mahoney.

That nucleus will be joined this season by seniors Wade Joseph, Clint Curtis and Clay DeMastus, juniors Ty Nichols, Tim Vaughan and Joe Sullivan, and sophomore Stephen Henry.

Curtis and DeMastus saw limited varsity action near the end of last season.

Joseph, 6-foot-4, will join Grove inside. Joseph didnt play for the Bulldogs last season because he was on an exchange trip to Japan.

Wade played ball all year over there, Woods said. I kept in touch with him by e-mail and he worked out a lot. He gives us a lot of versatility.

Our strength will be our posts, Woods said. Were inside oriented on offense.

But, other teams are going to be defensing us for that so we have to have kids who can shoot outside too.

Woods said Mullins, Ceja and Mahoney will handle the bulk of the outside attack.

The fifth-year Baker coach said the only drawback will be a lack of depth at the post behind Grove and Joseph.

If both of them get into foul trouble we dont have a lot to back them up, he said.

But, Goodenough and DeMastus could supply some extra board strength.

Greg Goodenough has come on from football season, Woods said. Hes playing very well.

Woods said Henry and Sullivan will float between the varsity and junior varsity. However, Sullivan is probably out until February with mononucleosis.

Woods sees Ontario, Vale, Grant Union and La Grande as the other top contenders for the Greater Oregon Leagues three playoff berths.

Baker will play a tough preseason schedule that includes the annual Pendleton Red Lion Tournament in December.

The Bulldogs open their season Thursday at home against Emmett, Idaho. Tipoff is 5:45 p.m. for the JV game, followed by the varsity contest.



Of the Baker City Herald

The Baker wrestling squad returns nine district placers, including two who qualified for the Class 3A state tournament.

Those numbers, plus a large turnout, has new head coach Alan McCauley looking for good things this season.

Based on numbers, if we can field two full lineups we can compete with Ontario for the Greater Oregon League title, McCauley said.

With our depth and our senior group I like our chances of getting six to eight kids to state.

Two of those seniors, Doug Hills and Raul Huntsman, advanced to state a year ago. Hills was the GOL champion at 152 pounds, and Huntsman the district runnerup at 275. Hills is ranked fifth in the state, and Huntsman ninth at those weights in the preseason rankings.

The other returning district placers are seniors John Kerns (189) and Nate Huntsman (275), and juniors Chris Price (152), Matt Hensley (140), Bobby Bond (145) and Nathan Garrick (215).

Price, who wrestled last season at 140, is ranked 14th in that weight.

The other returning grapplers from a year ago are seniors Eric and Aaron Anderson, Hunter Petrucci, Casey Curtis, Caleb Johnson and Jeff Blake; juniors Greg Baxter, Nathan Defrees, Ethan Bigelow and Andrew Walker; and sophomores Steven Stuchlik and Joel Christensen.

That group has been joined by sophomore Jeff Kerns and 14 freshmen.

McCauley said the Bulldogs, as usual, will be strongest in the middle weights. He has several younger wrestlers penciled in at the lower weights.

McCauley said he likes the Bulldogs schedule, which includes tournaments at Skyview (at the Idaho Center), Mac-Hi, and the Oregon Classic at Redmond. The Bulldogs will host their own tournament Dec. 14.

McCauley, who replaced the retired Bill Pickens, is a familar face to Bulldog fans.

McCauley, who also coaches the Baker baseball squad, wrestled four years for the Bulldogs, qualifying for the Class 4A state playoffs three of those years.

He was the Intermountain Conference champion his senior year, was runnerup as a junior, and placed third as a sophomore. He finished sixth at the state meet his senior season.

McCauley began his wrestling coaching career in 1989 at Jefferson High School in Jefferson. After graduating from college he became the middle school coach at Albany and volunteered with the West Albany varsity.

He then became an assistant coach for Charlie Anthony at Ontario, followed by a two-year stint as a Baker assistant for Pickens.

He then took over the Baker Middle School program.

McCauley said the seniors on this years squad were seventh-graders when he coached at BMS.

Baker opens its season Friday at the Enterprise Kickoff Tournament. The meet begins at noon.



Of the Baker City Herald

Pine-Eagles new boys basketball coach Lyn Akers will have to build his team from the ground up this season.

The Spartans return no starters, and just three players with varsity experience.

We have no height, but well be exciting, Akers said.

Our strength will be our shooting and ball control.

The returning players are seniors Andrew Richmond and Jeremy Simpson, and junior Scott Anderson. Richmond stands 6-foot-2, Simpson 6-foot, and Anderson 5-11.

Newcomers are seniors Kyle Bennett (5-9) and John Petersen (6-0); juniors Travis Casch (5-10), Kyle Durr (6-1), Dalton Montgomery (5-9) and Patrick Stromer (6-3); and sophomore Daniel Kaesemeyer (6-0).

Akers, who coached the Spartans junior varsity the past three years, said he expects Enterprise to be tough. He also sees Joseph and Imbler as two of the better teams, followed by Union and Nyssa.

Pine-Eagle opens its season Saturday at home against Cambridge, Idaho.



Of the Baker City Herald

Powder Valley will hoping to leap at least one step farther than it advanced last season when the Old Oregon League girls basketball season unfolds Friday.

The Badgers, who tied for the Old Oregon League title with Cove, finished third at the district tournament, just missing a trip to the Class 1A state field.

Coach Allen Bingham is looking for another solid season based on the return of nine players from that team.

Were hoping for good thi-ngs, Bingham said.

We lost just one senior from last year, and Sami Wendt injured her knee and wont be able to play. But, we have a lot of people back.

The Badgers will be senior dominant with all but two returning players in their final year.

Returning players are point guards Ashley Wisdom and Chelsi Pedro, wings Cali Taylor, Amanda Bingham, Amie Russell, Amber Harrison and Lacey Kasper, and posts Joelle Bain and Jayme Simonis.

Pedro, a junior, and Bain, a sophomore, are the only non-seniors in the group.

Bingham said five junior varsity players are vying for the final two varsity spots. Those players are juniors Mandi Wendt and Hayley Coleman, and sophomores Heather Tittle, Shauna Nelson and Lacey Lyman.

Bingham said the Badgers will run a fast break style offense and apply a lot of defensive pressure.

Well do a lot of running, he said.

The Powder coach sees Cove as the Badgers top threat for the league crown.

He said Prairie City, with Gene Mills as the Panthers new coach, could surprise people.

Powder Valley opens its season Friday against Union at the Union tournament.



Of the Baker City Herald

Baker will have a new look when the Bulldogs open their Greater Oregon League girls basketball campaign Friday.

Gone to graduation is the bulk of last years squad. Just five players return from a year ago one senior and four sophomores.

Mary Kreger, a 5-foot-9 forward, is the teams captain, and the only senior on the squad.

The other returning players are sophomores Laura Gyllenberg, Rosanne Curtis, Anita Curtis and Rachel Hill. All but Hill will see action in the backcourt. Hill will play inside and on the wing.

Three juniors Amanda Luelling, Rebekah Duby and Amy Servid and four more sophomores Kristina Stevens, Sally Brown, Robin Hack and Shalene Christy round out the squad.

Stevens is the tallest Bulldog at 5-foot-11. Hill and Christy are both 5-foot-10.

We have decent height, said Baker coach Joel Richardson.

But, what I really like about these kids is that they are really athletic.

Richardson said the Bulldogs will miss having the size inside that they had a year ago with Beth Hull. But they will compensate.

This year were a little bit taller, and more athletic. Our foot speed is good in the post.

Well have a different look in the post, Richardson said. We wont be totally post oriented because of the versatility we have.

Richardson said he likes the teams speed, which the Bulldogs will try to utilize more this season.

The kids want to run, to get out and play pressure defense, he said.

Were just in the learning stages of that right now. But we want to be an attacking team.

The Baker coach said he wants this group of girls to make decisions in the open floor.

Its just that right now were in the unproven stage, and the kids know that, he said.

Richardson said many other coaches will probably look at the Bulldogs as an inexperienced team.

And we are, he said.

But I think people may overlook us. Thats good. These kids will play tough to the wire.

This team can be as good as it wants to be, Richardson said. They want to be good. They are very critical of themselves, sometimes too critical. This group wants to get better.

The Bulldogs will play a solid 10-game preseason schedule that includes six games against Class 4A opponents.

This preseason schedule is the toughest weve had since Ive been coach at Baker High School, Richardson said.

The preseason includes a three-day tournament at Pendleton, and a four-day tournament at Tigard and Lake Oswego in December.

It will be tough, but these girls are challenging themselves to play up to that level. And, I think they can, Richardson said.

We feel we can be one of the top three teams in the GOL and make it to the state playoffs.

Richardson said he has no set lineup planned, at least for a while.

This is the type of team that I see the lineup changing for any given game, he said.

That keeps a little fire burning in the girls. If were going to play a fast-paced game I would really like to be able to play 10 kids, to find the combinations we want to go with.

Richardson said he knows that playing a faster style of game is going to lead to turnovers. But, the Bulldogs must learn to compensate.

Were going to have to understand that turnovers will be a part of the game. We have to learn to handle the ball, rebound, and play tough defense. Were going to have to work to win the battle of the boards.

Right now the season is as wide open as the big, blue sky, Richardson said.

Baker hosts Weiser, Idaho, Friday. Action begins with the freshman game at 4 p.m., followed by the JV and varsity contests.



Of the Baker City Herald

The Baker High School swim team has begun splashing its way toward the playoffs, and will compete in its first meet of the season Saturday at Pendleton.

Baker coach Monica Hansen, in her seventh season as the Bulldogs coach, welcomed 30 swimmers to early practices 21 girls and nine boys.

Weve finally competed rebounding from two years ago when we lost almost our entire team to graduation, Hansen said.

Last season the Bulldogs put 23 swimmers into the water. But many of them were freshmen and sophomores.

This season those swimmers have another year of experience. And, Hansen said, this years freshmen will help.

Theyll give us some depth, she said. Quite a few of them have experience on the club team. It is looking like well be a very good team.

Leading the girls team are seniors Mallory Jackson, Lily Shipsey and Misty Davis; junior Rachel Barfuss; and sophomores Chelsea Brown, Sherryne Hansen, Whitney Hoopes and Ashley Weatherspoon.

Topping the boys squad are juniors Jason Barker, Everett Coombes, Casey Frantum and Chris Langton, and sophomore Michael Kaup.

Hansen said the Bulldogs also will have foreign exchange students from Thailand, Germany and Switzerland on the team.

We have a solid nucleus returning and some good younger swimmers, she said.

Susan Jackson and Jamie Hansen will help Hansen this season.

Baker opens its season at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Pendleton Invitational. The Bulldogs host their first meet of the season Dec. 8 at Sam-O Swim Center.



Of the Baker City Herald

Burnt Rivers rookie boys basketball coach and his Bulls will have their work cut out for them when they begin the Tri-County League season Friday.

Brian Bradford, who coached the Bulls football team, takes over for John Kohntopp with the boys basketball team. Bradford said it is his first time coaching varsity boys basketball.

I waited until the last minute, and when nobody else signed up to coach the team, I said I would take the job, Bradford said.

The new coach has 11 players on the Burnt River varsity, but just three with much experience.

Senior Will Bradford, the coachs son, and juniors Cody Anderson and David Siddoway are the lone returning players.

Bradford and Anderson stand 6-foot, and Siddoway 5-10.

Another senior, 6-foot-5 Erin Bradford, is the tallest Bull. The coachs nephew, Bradford has never played basketball before.

The rest of the Burnt River squad consists of junior Parker Schuntz, sophomores Bobby Bradford, another nephew, and Craig Siddoway, freshman David Reilly, and three exchange students.

Most of these kids have little experience, Bradford said.

I like playing transition basketball. But, we need to learn to play basketball with our heads up.

Win or lose, I hope the kids have fun. Thats my main goal, he said.

Burnt River opens its season Friday and Saturday at the Prairie City tournament. The Bulls play Prairie City Friday at 7:45 p.m.

If Burnt River wins that game it would play Saturday at 6 p.m. If the Bulls lose Friday, they will play at 2:30 p.m. Saturday. Culver and Harper are the other teams in the tournament.