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Crater opens bid for fourth straight title

Crater High's girls basketball team will open defense of its Southern Oregon Conference championship tonight.

The Comets (4-2) will travel to Roseburg to meet the Indians in the SOC opener for both teams. Game time is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Comets have won three straight Southern Oregon Conference championships. They lost to defending champion Oregon City in the state title game last season.

Crater coach Dave Heard is rebuilding with just one starter back from last season's SOC title team. She is 6-foot-1 post player Emily Wiley.

We might be the most inexperienced team in the state, says Crater coach David Heard. We've made some progress, but I don't think we are the team to beat this year. I said at the start of the season that we wanted to use our first six (non-league games) to get us ready for the league season.

We need to step up now, says Heard. Right now, we're probably between the third- and sixth-best team in the league.

SOC coaches picked North Medford to win the league championship. They picked Klamath Union second, Ashland third and Crater fourth.

Hey, we're worried about going to play Roseburg, says Heard. That's a tough place to play. Any time you go to Klamath Falls or Roseburg, you can be in trouble.

In a game that could set the pace for the SOC, the Comets will receive another early test on Friday night when they meet North Medford in the Crater gym. Crater will put its 33-game home winning streak on the line in the game. The last time the Comets lost was in the preseason of 1995 against Oregon City, which was ranked No. — in the nation at the time.

In other SOC girls games tonight, North Medford travels to Klamath Union to meet the Pelicans, Eagle Point plays at South Medford and Grants Pass is at Ashland.

All games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

Wiley and 6-0 sophomore Jody McLeod will start for Crater at the post positions. Sarah Yager, a 5-6, 14-year-old freshman, will start at point guard.

Starting wings for the Comets will be 5-7 Amy Chase and 5-9 Megan Robbins.

Roseburg has two active post players and two of the best guards in the state (Lindsey Johnson and Jordan Crossfield), says Heard. It won't be an easy task.

If we can get a split out of our two conference games this week, I'll be happy, says Heard.

North Medford coach Mike Kay shares the same sentiments as he takes his team to undefeated Klamath Union (5-0) tonight and to Crater on Friday night.

If we get a split, we'll have done real well, says Kay. I don't think any team is talented enough to go undefeated this year.

If we would win these two games, we would be a ways ahead of the game since we would have played both teams on the road. That means they would have to play at our gym in the second round.

North Medford will start Lu Crenshaw at point guard and 5-9 Ashley Giles at off guard.

I think those two make up the two best defensive guards playing together in the state, says Heard. If I could have one guard to play defense for me in the state, it would probably be Giles. She has long arms, and she's just a tough defender.

The Black Tornado (4-1) will start 6-0 Tressa Manwaring and 5-10 Jennifer Ross at the post positions, and Jenny Close at a wing.

I think we're starting to come together as a team, says Kay. We're real young. These first two (league) games will be real tests.