When you’re on a winning team, it’s easy to maintain your competitive spirit.
Practices become more tolerable, gearing up for...
Maybe Caleb Allen gets his strength from his dad, a former Marine who builds helicopters.
Perhaps the Rogue Valley Adventist senior gets his toughness from his brother Zac, a Marine captain who flies helicopters in North Carolina.
He surely gets some of his basketball skills from Jake, another brother whose career was compromised by a knee injury.
Combine all those Allen examples with the things Caleb has learned from his mom and one sister and you have one of the finest small-school players in Southern Oregon.
Surprisingly, the baby of the family has never taken a helicopter ride himself. Caleb takes to the air in a different sort of way.
The high-flying Allen has averaged 20.6 points and 12 rebounds a night during his four-year career with the Red Tail Hawks (18-3), who went undefeated in Mountain Valley League play this year. Top-seeded RVA will play No. 4 Butte Falls (12-9) in the MVL playoffs at 3:45 today at Oregon Tech.
"He could start on any team, 1A to 6A," RVA head coach Mike Glasgow says.
The 6-foot-3, 170-pounder has recorded 35 career double-doubles and has eight games with 30 points or more — including a 46-point, 15-rebound, five-steal effort against Loma Linda Academy of California last winter.
MVL defenses have smothered the 18-year-old Allen this year, and his buckets are down. In fact, Butte Falls held him to four points on Jan. 16 and kept him scoreless on Jan. 25, but RVA still won both.
Like any great player, Glasgow says, Allen has adjusted. He's been used often as a point guard this season and is dishing like an acclaimed chef.
He had 12 dimes to match those four points against the Loggers.
"I guess (scoring) has been harder, but it's not all about scoring," says Allen, who will play at Union College in Lincoln, Neb., next year. "Making sure we get the win (is most important)."
The Hawks' skywalker has never looked more rounded, Glasgow says.
"He can play guard to center," Glasgow says. "He is pretty versatile that way. He's our best defender. He will be missed."
The Hawks made the Class 1A state tournament in Baker for the first time in program history when Allen was a sophomore. He averaged 20 points that year.
The team just missed a return trip last winter, falling to Columbia Christian, 49-46, in the second round of the 1A playoffs. Allen scored 33 in the loss.
Allen averaged 22 points, 11 rebounds, four steals and two assists per game and was co-player of the year in the MVL last season.
The team is hungry to get back to the big stage, Allen says. The Hawks' other starters are seniors Jonathan James and Kenny Bornamann and freshmen Brian Wachter and Nathaniel James.
"The seniors promised ourselves we would go all out this year, no matter what," Allen said. "That is what we've done. No one gives us the respect that we deserve. We are proving people wrong."
If there was any doubt that Allen couldn't handle a team with equally tough, tall and talented players, his 46-point night came against a starting unit with players standing high from 6-5 to 6-7.
The truth is, Allen did have a few doubts himself entering the game.
"Being honest, going into that game — you can ask everyone on that team — we had our doubts," Allen says. "These guys are way bigger than us, way stronger and way more talented. We were really scared for a while. ... It felt good that we could beat people like that."
Allen was born in Georgia and lived in Minnesota before coming to the Rogue Valley.
He's learned much from his family, he says.
"Hard work," says Allen, who hopes to be a rescue paramedic. "Always working hard no matter the circumstances."
Reach reporter Dan Jones at 541-776-4499, or email email@example.com. Find him online at twitter.com/danjonesmt