Warriors, East Linn hoops seasons end in playoffs; wrestlers, swimmer place

It’s been a process, but winter sports are definitely rebounding at Lebanon High School, as evidenced by state place-winners in both wrestling and swimming and some near-misses from younger team members, and a return to the 5A playoffs by the girls basketball team.
The winter season was winding down as Lebanon Local went to press, with the Dance/Drill State Championships scheduled for March 17-18 at the Salem Pavilion, with Lebanon once again in the mix.
Meanwhile, the rest of the Warriors are readying for the spring sports season, which starts this week.

Girls Basketball

The Warriors qualified for state in girls basketball after finishing the Mid-Willamette Conference schedule with an 11-7 mark, good for fifth in a league in which the five top teams were all ranked by the OSAA in the top nine, Lebanon at No. 8.
Matched up with Mountain View in the first round of the playoffs, the Warriors fell 53-48 after making the trip over the mountains. They finished 15-10 overall in what will be Coach Mardy Benedict’s final year at the helm, his 30th.
“Mountain View is a good, competitive team,” Athletic Director Kraig Hoene said. “Going over the mountains is always an adventure and we didn’t get the road win we were hoping to get. But the girls played hard and they had a good year.”
MVC coaches apparently agreed, because they named six Warriors for All-League picks, seniors Hallie Jo Miller and Haley Hargis to the First Team, sophomore Patricia Mike to the Second Team, and seniors Libby Jorgensen and Kelsey Guzon, and freshman Peyton Vorderstrasse to Honorable Mention honors.
Across town, East Linn Christian Academy’s girls finished sixth in the 2A Division 12-team Valley Coast Conference with an 8-8 record, 12-14 overall.

Boys Basketball

East Linn Christian’s boys finished the regular season 15-1 in league and 24-6 overall to rank fourth in the 2A Division going into the state playoffs where they beat Willamina 51-47 in the first round before falling 40-37 to Western Christian and 62-46 to No. 1-ranked Mannahouse Academy of Portland to finish their season.
Lebanon’s boys finished with four MVC wins, beating McKay on the road and Dallas at home in the last two weeks of the season, to finish 4-14 in the MWC and 7-17 overall.
“We were much more competitive this year, I felt,” Hoene said.
Having lost a big points producer in Henry Pointer, who has moved on to Chemeketa Community College, the Warriors haven’t had the experience they’re used to, Hoene said, noting that senior Sam Brandt has only been able to play this year after a succession of knee injuries.
Senior Sam Brandt was named to the All-League Second Team and senior Porter Barnes and junior Luke Rose were picked for Honorable Mention honors by league coaches.
The Warriors were neck-and-neck in games against some playoff teams – South Albany, Crescent Valley and Corvallis, in February, losing to each thanks to end-of-game shooting droughts, Hoene noted.
“We have kids who haven’t played basketball for a while and we had some offensive inconsistency. They played their tails off and we were competitive with some good teams. Obviously, we want some of those games back, but we were right with them. We made positive steps this year.”


Coach Jenny Pickles’ Warriors won their second straight OSAA state championship on Feb. 11, outscoring second-place Ridgeview 101.60-95.60 at Oregon City High School.
South Albany was third (94.60) and West Albany fifth (84.40), giving the MVC a good representation.
Lebanon’s program is young – no seniors were on the roster, which was comprised of: juniors Eryn Gates, Sydney-Anne Graves, Jaiden Horton, Ireland Miller and Annabelle Wells; sophomores Brooklyn Dickerson, Cadence Graves, Janelle Johnson, Hannah Savedra and Dakota Whitacre; and freshmen Addilynne Pickles and Bailey Sim.


Junior Jacob Pearson was Lebanon’s only state medalist in the pool, cutting a second and a half off his preliminaries time to finish sixth in the 100 Backstroke in 57:06 at the state championships, held Feb. 18 in Tualatin.
Pearson was eighth in the 100 Freestyle (52.55), and senior Kase Basting was 10th in the 200 Freestyle (2:02.05) and in the 100 Butterfly (58.09).
The Warriors also qualified two relay teams for state, the 200 Freestyle team of freshman Hollis Kizer, freshman Boston Borgmann, Pearson and Basting finishing eighth (1:38.53).
Pearson, Basting and Borgmann also teamed with senior Peter Baur to finish 11th in the 200 Medley Relay.
“They’re doing a good job of getting things rebuilt,” Hoene said of the swimmers, who lost a lot of momentum when pools were shut down during the COVID pandemic. “Swimming is a tough one when things kind of drop. It’s not a quick fix.”


Senior Landon Carver was the top finisher for Lebanon at the 5A state championships, which were back at the Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland for the first time since 2020, held Feb. 25-26.
Carver finished fourth at 120 pounds, and the Warriors also got a sixth-place finish from senior Darius Freeman at 145 pounds.
Also qualifying for state were sophomore John Cartwright at 126, freshman Seth Wynn at 132, junior Devon Keene at 138, senior Clayton Eilers at 170, junior Jackson Williams at 182 and sophomore Isaac Jordan at 220.
“We have a lot of kids that show promise,” Hoene said. “I think (Coach) Michael (Cox) was happy with the season. I think the numbers are back up again. This is not, obviously, where Michael is used to being, but with the few seniors we did have and the amount of young kids coming back, we’re in a good spot.”
* * * * *
Here’s a rundown of how things look this spring for the Warriors.


After a near-miss with a second-place finish at state last year, Lebanon is shooting to win it all, Hoene said.
“The state title is the goal,” he said of Coach Jeff Stolsig’s Warriors, who were upended by fellow MVC member Crescent Valley, a fourth-place finisher in league play in which Lebanon had cruised to a 15-1 record and a No. 1 state ranking. Pitcher Noah Dewey was the difference for the Raiders, who had not beaten Lebanon during the regular season, recording nine strikeouts in a career day on the mound.
The good news for Lebanon is that their state lineup last year included only one senior, Pointer.
“We’ve got everybody back for the most part, all of our pitching is back,” Hoene said, noting the exception of Brady Crenshaw from the roster as he recovers from a football injury last fall.
Still, he cautioned, the MVC is “very competitive” in baseball.
“I think we’ve got the kids, the depth on the roster to do what we need to do over 26 games,” Hoene said.
“Our eyes better be set on every game or we can beat, especially in baseball where someone can have a great game.”


The Warriors, coached by Benedict, start the season after a deep run in last year’s 5A softball playoffs, after finishing 14-2 in the MVC to tie with Dallas for the league title.
Hopes are high this year, as senior Alivia Holden returns to the mound after her sister Trinity, last year’s MWC Player of the Year, has moved on to Portland State.
Alivia Holden finished last season with an ERA of 1.26 in 100 innings on the mound.
“When you have that one person, you can do things,” Hoene said. “We’ve got several seniors back and some kids with All-League recognition, so we’re looking to be competitive, be a playoff team, possibly win a league title.
“Again, our softball league, like baseball, is incredibly competitive.”


Like other individual sports, tennis, which suffered during COVID, is bouncing back, Hoene said.
“Our numbers are good. Our girls number around 30, but our boys are still down a little. We’re working on getting that up.”


The golf teams have had a good turnout this year, Hoene said, with eight players on the girls side and some 20 boys.
“We’re solid,” Hoene said.
The boys finished fourth at the district tournament last year, just missing state, but then-freshman Ryland Carrol qualified as an individual, finishing in a tie for sixth at state, shooting 79-74-153.
Carrol is back for his sophomore season, one of the top five early favorites to compete for the state title, Hoene said.
For the girls senior A’Kalie Berry returns after just missing last year’s state tournament on an extra-hole playoff at the district tournament.

Track and Field

Senior Jackson Parrish, who was third in the triple jump and fourth in the long jump at last year’s state championships, returns as last year’s top finisher for the Warriors, who have nearly 100 athletes out for track and field this year.
“Our numbers are back up,” Hoene said, adding that with Parrish in the jumps, Lebanon has a top contender in those events when the state meet rolls around.
Junior Alyse Fountain returns with state experience for the girls as a freshman in the short sprints, and sophomore twins Teagen and Taryn Cornell — whose dad, Jared, was one of the top throwers in the nation in high school — both qualified for state last year in the shot; Teagen finishing seventh (33-2¾) and Taryn ninth (32-5½).
Hoene said the biggest change in the 5A Division in track and field is the return of Summit, a longtime powerhouse in the sport, from the 6A.
“Unfortunately, Summit’s back in the 5A ranks,” he said. “From a team standpoint, everybody might be playing for second.”