Warrior roundup: Girls aim for hoops title; swimmers, wrestlers head for state

Girls Basketball

A buzzer-beater loss to Corvallis on Dec. 11 turned out to the last one – thus far – for Lebanon’s girls , basketball team, who have won 11 straight games going into their match-up with West Albany at home on Feb. 15.

As Lebanon Local went to press, Coach Mardy Benedict’s Warriors had three games left: against the Bulldogs, at home against Crescent Valley on Feb. 19 and at North Salem Feb. 22.

“They’re playing against some pretty good teams,” Athletic Director Kraig Hoene said, noting that Central, sitting fifth in the Mid-Willamette Conference, is ranked 10th in state. North Salem, eighth in the league standings, is ranked 16th.

Of the last three games for the Warriors, (12-1, 17-3) as of Feb. 14, should be “pretty winnable,” he said, and if they keep doing what they’re doing, they could run the table in league.

“Any time you go on the road, especially in our conference, and you get a win, you don’t care what it looks like,” Hoene said. “You put a smile on your face and go home.”

If they win out, the Warriors will  have their first league title in program history, and even if they don’t, they should at least have a share of the championship.

“There aren’t too many scenarios where we don’t finish in at least a tie,” Hoene said.

A group of talented juniors have made a difference for the team this year, he said: Ellie Croco, Taylor Edwards, Hailey Johnson and Mary Workman have developed a true team mentality with veteran seniors Morgan Hopkins, Megan Miller, Maddy Romeo, Allison Tatum and Paige Wombacher. The team also includes two sophomores: Hollie Johnson and Kylie Steiner.

“The girls have earned it. They really have come together, kind of bonded,” Hoene said.

Boys Basketball

Despite a lackluster (0-13, 3-16) record going into their final three games, the Warriors are improving, Hoene said.

He said their game against Central, in particular, was closer than the 66-54 final score indicated.

“It was competitive, all the way into the fourth quarter,” he said, noting that the Panthers won it at the free-throw line in the final minutes. “With three or four minutes to go, it was a three- or four-point ball game.”

Coach Casey VandenBos’ biggest challenge, Hoene said, is “changing the culture.”

“The kids have to learn how to win.”


Lebanon had two individual qualifiers on the girls side and one relay team for the Feb. 15-16 state championships.

The boys finished the Mid-Willamette Conference championships with five individual qualifiers and two relay teams heading for state.

Individual qualifiers for the boys are: Nico Barbafiera, third-seeded in the 200 Freestyle and  fourth-seeded in the 100 Freestyle; Jonathan Yordy, top-seeded in the 200 Individual Medley and fifth-seeded in the 500 Freestyle; Drew Charley, sixth-seeded in the Backstroke; Tyler Simpson, seeded 10th in the 500 Freestytle; and Dane Togerson, seeded ninth in the 50 Freestyle and 11th in the 100 Freestyle.

Also qualifying were the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relay teams of Charley, Togerson, Yordy and Barbfiera, seeded second in both events.  Alternate swimmers for the relays are Owen Stellbrink, Tyler Simpson, Austin Musto and Carson Killian.

Qualifiers for the girls are Elizabeth Beck, seeded fifth in both the 200 and 500 Freestyles, and Isabella Ayala, seeded ninth in the 500 Freestyle and 10th in the 200.  Also qualifying was the 400 Freestyle Relay team of  Ayala, Beck, Taylor Harrington and Devony Beckett, seeded ninth. Alternates are Molly Pearson, Emma Squires, Kara Breshears and Terri Knaup.

The top six in each preliminary at state, being held at the Tualatin Hills Aquatic Center in Beaverton  on Feb. 15, advance to the finals – and medals – on Feb. 16.

Hoene said the league is tough.

“We have girls who are always the No. 1 placer,” he said. “We have kids in our league who have qualified for state who were sixth in our (district) championship heat.

The boys have enough swimmers at state to do some damage, Hoene said.

“If they swim well, they could win a state trophy.”


Lebanon’s wrestlers placed second in the the Mid-Willamette Conference district championships, held Feb. 8-9 at Crescent Valley High School, with 296 points behind No. 1-ranked Dallas (367.5) and ahead of Crescent Valley (259) and West Albany (197).

The Warriors had four individual champions: Wyatt Richardson, first at 126; Chase Miller, first at 160; Joseph Blisseck, first at 182; and Keith Brown, first at 220.

Other place-winners were Tanner Wallace, sixth at 106 pounds; Rian Howard, second at 113; Colton Bowman, eighth at 113; Brayden Burton, sixth at 120; Andy Vandetta, fourth at 120;  Damien Rash, sixth at 132; Austin Dalton, second at 132; Tucker Drummond, fourth at 138;  Jacob Jimenez fourth at 195; Malachi Lee, fourth at 220; Justin Sheppard, sixth at 285; and Rafael Ramos, fourth at 285.

State qualifiers were Howard, Vandetta, Richardson, Dalton, Drummond, Miller, Blisseck, Jimenez, Brown, Lee and Ramos.

“I think we have a good chance to get a top-five finish,” Hoene said of the state championships, which will be Feb. 22-23 at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland. “I don’t think anybody will have a chance to catch Dallas or Crook County. The rest of us will be going for third.”


The state cheerleading championships were postponed to Feb. 16 due to concerns about weather conditions in Portland on Feb. 9, the original date. They are held at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum.