North Lake boys favored in Skyline A
A pair of high-scoring guards -- Prospect's Pat Gordon and Danny Krenwinkel of Butte Falls -- are two of the top returning players as the Skyline A League Southern Division boys basketball season opens tonight.
The full slate of games has Prospect playing at New Hope Christian in Grants Pass, Brighton Academy traveling to Paisley and North Lake visiting Hosanna Christian in Klamath Falls. Butte Falls has the opening-night bye in the seven-team division. The Loggers begin league play Saturday at New Hope Christian.
The top two finishers in the Southern Division face off against their counterparts of the Sky A Northern Division Feb. 20-21 at Douglas High in Winston. The four-team playoff determines the league's two qualifiers for the Class 1A state tournament in Baker City.
North Lake is favored to defend its Southern Division title again this season. The Cowboys have three returning starters off last year's team that lost only one league game.
Gordon and Krenwinkel give Prospect and Butte Falls the edge for securing the No. 2 spot in the postseason tournament.
The two Grants Pass private schools -- Brighton Academy and New Hope Christian -- and Paisley are close behind in the running for a playoff berth. Hosanna Christian appears to be the only school that won't have a competitive squad.
North Lake is the division's preseason top pick because the Cowboys have experience, balance and depth -- a combination no one else in the league can claim.
North Lake has started seven different players in posting a 7-2 record in nonleague games.
The Cowboys' top player is 6-foot-2 senior guard Bryan Wright, who is averaging about 20 points a game. The other two North Lake returning starters are Jabin Lambert (6-2, sr., f) and David Baker (6-2, sr., c).
Prospect's fortunes will depend largely on Gordon and backcourt mate Scott Roberts. The Cougars are 6-5 entering league action.
Gordon, a 5-11 senior, has been a Prospect varsity performer since his freshman year. He possesses savvy, quickness and a scorer's mentality. He's the triggerman in the Cougars' three-guard offense and is averaging around 30 points a game.
Roberts, a 5-8 senior, has been effective in the backcourt with Gordon for the past several seasons. The two players have marvelous chemistry. The cat-like Roberts leads the team in steals.
Gordon's younger brother -- freshman Zach Gordon -- has been getting playing time at point guard in the nonleague games.
We try to get the ball up and down the court and try to get good shots, Prospect coach Don Alexander says. We're not big enough to stand around and pound it out with people.
In addition to Krenwinkel, Butte Falls returns seniors Josh Holte (5-11, g) and Terril Earl (6-0, f) in starting roles.
Krenwinkel is shooting 58 percent from the field and is averaging 18.5 points as the Loggers have posted a 4-4 record heading into the league schedule. Krenwinkel had a season-high 31 points against the Hidden Valley C team.
Earl has shot better than 50 percent from 3-point range and averages almost three steals and five rebounds a game.
The other two starters will be David Anders (6-0, sr., f) and Jeremy McKibbin (5-11, jr., g).
We hope to use our quickness to our advantage, Butte Falls coach Mike Harrington says. We like to press full court and force an uptempo pace.
Brighton Academy is 2-6 and owns a 51-43 victory over league foe New Hope Christian.
The Lions return junior starters Matt Wade (5-8, g) and Tommy Avalos (5-9, w) and 5-8 sophomore letterman James Rousseau.
The Lions have an infusion of height this season with 6-5 junior post Jacob Taylor and 6-8 junior post Kevin Reppert, who is averaging five blocks a game.
In winning six of 10 games, New Hope Christian has demonstrated accurate outside shooting to accompany a pressing defense that has caused opponents problems in non-league play.
Curtis Pearce, a 6-0 junior wing, and 6-2 senior post Darren Hemmer return as starters. Josh Kimsey (5-10, so., g), Steve Carlino (5-7, jr., g) and Mark Sandy (5-10, so., g) complete the starting lineup.
Paisley finished second in the division last season, but lost its entire starting lineup. The Broncos have some good athletes, but might be a year off as a contending team.
Hosanna Christian didn't win a division game last season. After getting drubbed by North Lake's junior varsity earlier this season, Hosanna might find it hard to get in the win column this year.