Despite COVID interruptions, Lebanon athletes press on

With another wave of COVID infections sweeping through the state, including the Mid-Willamette Conference, schools are scrambling to adjust their sports schedules accordingly.
Both Lebanon High School and East Linn Christian Academy have had cancellations and Warriors Athletic Director Kraig Hoene said Thursday, Jan. 13, that he had just gotten more calendar changes approved by the OSAA.
“We’re postponing and rescheduling,” Hoene said.
Boys basketball has been the most noticeably affected for the Warriors as the omicron variant has swept through the state.
Lebanon was supposed to compete in the Oregon Holiday Hoofest in Bend at the end of December, which was cancelled, and it rescheduled two league games, against Crescent Valley and West Albany, on Jan. 6 and 10 because a player came down with COVID – right about the time the Oregon Department of Education issued a “recommendation” on Jan. 3 that schools not engage in extracurricular after-school activities through the month of January.
Lebanon, East Linn and most other schools throughout the state have decided to move ahead with sports, but Hoene said it seemed wisest to postpone those games, since the Warriors had a bye on Jan. 13 anyway, and let things settle down.
“The best way, the fastest way, to get everybody back on the court was just to quarantine,” he said.
Lebanon is 0-2 in league, 3-4 overall after a “pretty close” 51-46 loss at Central and falling 74-57 to North Salem.
“They’re close,” Hoene said of the Warriors, who have three seniors on the roster. “We’ve got the kids. We just need consistent play from the young guys. We had some young kids hit some big three late against Central. They have to gain that confidence.”
Senior Henry Pointer continues to stand out as one of the league’s best players, averaging some 24 points per game.
“He’s having a first-team all-league-type of season,” Hoene said.
Across town, East Linn’s boys are 10-1 overall and 2-0 in league going into their Jan. 15 match-up with Regis at home.
Lebanon’s girls are 2-10 overall and 0-3 in Mid-Western League basketball. With only two seniors, the Warriors are young and it shows, Hoene said.
Against West Albany, ranked ninth in the state, the Warriors were in it till midway through the third quarter, eventually losing 57-41. Like the boys, the support players need to step up, he said.
“We need to have three or four going, instead of one or two,” he said. “When they’re hitting, they’re tough.”
East Linn’s girls have also struggled, with an overall record of 2-10 and a 0-3 league mark going into their Regis game Saturday.

Landon Carver faces off with West Albany’s Marshall Duncan in the 113-pound final, which Carver won by a fall in 1:33.

Lebanon’s wrestlers took home two individual championships from the Linn County Championships tournament Friday, Jan. 7, at Sweet Home.
Landon Carver (113 pounds) and Pablo Gonzalez-Solis (195) were both winners in the Linn County Championships, which involved all the schools in the county that field wrestling programs.
Lebanon placed third as a team, four points behind West Albany, and behind host Sweet Home.
Other finalists for the Warriors were John Cartwright (120), Tanner Wallace (132), Jeb Shilts (170) and Lukas Darby (285). Josiah Wynn was third at 152, Devon Keene was fourth at 138, Darius Freeman was fourth at 145, and Austin Loveal was fourth at 182.
“(Coach) Michael (Cox) has got numbers back up and a lot of kids are getting better,” Hoene said. “He’s got kids putting time in.”
On Friday, Jan. 14, the Warriors hosted the Laura Gillott Keller Williams Tournament, which included nine other 5A and 6A programs from up and down the state
Behind second-year Head Coach Lorlee Engler, Lebanon’s swimmers are gradually rebuilding, Hoene said.
Lorlee is in her first year post-COVID and she’s without (longtime Coach) Gus (Arzner). But she’s doing a great job. A lot of kids haven’t been doing stuff, but she’s got them out and working hard and hopefully, when they get to districts, we’ll have some state qualifiers.”
As the old adage goes in swimming, “Every meet is just a workout until you get to districts.” The MWC district meet will be held Feb. 1 at the Dallas Aquatic Center.