While each basketball game played up to this point has been important for the teams’ state-wide rankings, Friday marks the first taste of league action for schools in the Blue Mountain and Big Sky conferences.
For Class 2A and 1A schools in Eastern Oregon, Friday’s games act as the first step toward a conference championship. There are plenty of interesting matchups slated for the opening weekend of league play on both the boys’ and girls’ sides of the game.
The Condon/Wheeler Knights of the 1A Big Sky Conference have won all five of their games in the early season. No final score has been closer than 17 points as the Knight remain highly untested. In its first league contest on Friday, Condon/Wheeler will clash with Dufur (4-1) at home at 6 p.m. in a battle of pre-season conference leaders.
The Knights — like most other 1A and 2A squads — will get a pair of conference games this weekend before a slew of non-league tournament matches through the end of December, but head coach Teresa Humphrey said her girls are excited about the first sight of Big Sky play.
“We know that our league is a tough league and we have to be mentally ready,” Knights’ head coach Teresa Humphrey said. “On any given night in this league anybody can knock you off.”
Condon/Wheeler will then go to a down-on-its-luck Echo team on Saturday at 4 p.m. The Cougars are 0-4 so far this season.
The marquee competition for the boys comes on Saturday and involves Blue Mountain opponents Stanfield (3-1) at Pilot Rock (5-0) in a battle of the top two teams in the 2A conference. Tip off is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.
“I’m excited to see what the weekend brings,” Pilot Rock head coach Doug Baxter said. “I think we’ll match up fairly well (with Stanfield). With just our size and athleticism, we’ll present some problems.”
Stanfield coach Daniel Sharp called the Pilot Rock boys perhaps the toughest team in their league this season. Facing that caliber of opponent early on can act as a gauge to see where the Tigers are in their own development.
“I think it’s a fun matchup because you know going into that place, those games will always be tough,” Sharp said. “It’s a big game for us and not just because it’s in league.”
Pilot Rock opens its league schedule the night before at 7:30 p.m. by traveling to Irrigon (2-3) while Stanfield hosts Enterprise (3-3) at 7:30 p.m.
A top matchup in Class 1A boys basketball also comes on Saturday when a currently 3-1 South Wasco team visits Arlington (4-1) for a 5:30 tip-off time. South Wasco will play two more games before Saturday.
Another game of note for the girls’ teams involves Enterprise (5-1) making the trip to Irrigon (4-1) for a 4 p.m. game on Saturday to begin the Blue Mountain conference season. So far Irrigon’s only loss came to the undefeated Condon/Wheeler at the Condon Tournament this past weekend.
Also in the Blue Mountain this weekend, league-leader Union (4-0) travels to Weston-McEwen (1-1) at 6 p.m. on Friday. Despite their one win, the TigerScots are ranked eighth in the state in the 2A coaches poll.