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Posted On: 03/12/18 1:57 PM
Another season is in the books and once again, the Cowapa League proved itself to be the class of Oregon 4A basketball. Saturday night confirmed that as Seaside & Valley Catholic squared off in a repeat of the 2017 title game. Once again, Seaside took home the blue trophy, coming from behind in the 2nd half to win 48-44 behind an all underclassmen starting line up.
For most of the first 16 minutes, Valley Catholic controlled the tempo and had the game at the slower pace that they prefer. The Valiants were patient running their post oriented offense to get high percentage shots at the basket. On the other end of the floor, their extended 1-3-1 zone defense took advantage of their length & kept Seaside off balance. The 3rd quarter was a different story as the Seagulls were able to get the tempo into a more up and down game, found space for their shooters who made 5 three pointers in the frame, and attacked the basket for a 19-12 advantage.
Little Brother No More:
For the last 4 years, anyone who has followed 4A basketball has marveled at the play of 2017 graduate Jackson Januik, a 4 year starter and 2x state POY for Seaside. The undersized point guard controlled the tempo for a Seaside team that found unprecedented success under his leadership before he moved on to George Fox. In his shadow was younger brother Chase, a talented 2019 combo guard who started on the 2017 state title team. This season it was time for the younger Januik to take on a more prominent roll for the Seagulls and he stepped up to fill that void all year, but especially in the state title game where he scored a game high 17 point on 7/11 shooting to go along with 5 assists.
Valley Catholic Big Men Dominate:
Valley Catholic has featured quality “big guys” for several years now, dating all the way back to their 20007 state title team and post Andy Haugen who later played at Pacific. This year’s team was no different as the Valiants featured a trio of talent post players who were on their game on Saturday night. 6’6 senior lefty Jack Grasberger went 6/6 from the field on his way to a team high 16 points. Ben Robbins, another 6’6 post went 2/8 from the field, but was 2/2 in the paint and Daniel Pruitt, an undersized sophomore post went 3/5 from the field. Combined the Valley Posts were 11/13 on shots in the paint and established a presence that Seaside was forced to battle all game long.
State Title Game Regulars:
These two programs have become a familiar part of state title game action in recent years. Valley won the class 3A state title in 2014 before moving up to 4A the following year. It took a couple of years to get their bearings at the higher level, but since have made appearances in the blue trophy game in both 2017 & 2018. With a group of talented returners including guards Trey Eberhart & Jack Tetzloff to go along with the post play of Pruitt, the Valiants should find themselves in the mix again in 2019. After spending years developing a quality youth program, Seaside has reaped the rewards in the last several years. A state semifinal appearance in 2012 started the run which has seen the Seagulls advance to the state championship game in 2016, 2017, & 2018, winning the last two 4A state titles. With a roster made up entirely of underclassmen, including two year starters Chase Januik and Payton Westerholm, the Seagulls will be the preseason favorite to “3 Peat” in 2019.
Cowapa League Domination Continues:
As mentioned, the Seaside vs Valley Catholic match up was a repeat of last year’s title game and continues a four year run where the Cowapa League has dominated the class 4A ranks. In fact, most experts, including Seaside head coach Bill Westerholm would suggest that Banks was the best team in the league & the state this season and were on their way to a state title until Friday night’s injury to league POY Dalton Renne. Seaside in fact lost league games this season to Scappoose & Tillamook, teams that finished 4th & 5th in the league standings.
Over the last 4 years, the Cowapa League has accounted for:
-13 of the 32 teams in the final 8
-10 of the 16 teams in the state semifinals
-6 of the 8 teams in the state title games
-3 of 4 state champions (Scappoose 2015; Seaside 2016, 2017)
The run for the Cowapa doesn’t appear to be ending, as Seaside, Banks, & Valley Catholic all return key pieces from this year’s teams and should all three find a place in the Top 5 of next season’s early rankings.