If Astoria boys basketball coach Kevin Goin had wanted to play the “injury card,” in describing his team’s 2016-17 season, it would have been understandable.
Injuries don’t always define your season, but they certainly played a big role for the Fishermen a year ago.
How else to explain a team that placed fourth at the state the year before, comes back mostly intact, then finishes 1-9 in league play?
The Fishermen had high hopes, but the season took an unexpected turn when seniors Kyle Strange and Fridtjof Fremstad were lost for most of the season with injuries.
Olaf Englund remained and did what he could (earning first team all-league honors), but the task was tough in a league that had two of its teams playing in the state championship game in March.
The league is still tough, and the challenge will be just as big for Goin this year. The injury bug has already struck, with Tristan Wallace going down with a knee injury during the football season.
“We started OK last year, but once we lost Fritz and Kyle, it made it rough,” Goin said. “It’s one of those things that happens. In my 22nd year of coaching, I’ve never had so many injuries in back-to-back years. Last year we had the two, then Tristan this year.”
Last season, “we still beat three teams who were in the state playoffs, and we were 10-3 going into league. I really thought without the injuries, we would have been right there with everybody else.”
When it comes to 4A basketball, the Cowapa League is the best, hands down. Over the last three years, four Cowapa teams have played in the state championship game (Scappoose, Valley Catholic, Seaside twice).
In their swan song as a member of the Cowapa this year, “Scappoose brings every single kid back,” Goin said. “They looked really good this summer. Tillamook brings their guards back. Seaside has their young guys back, and Banks will be huge.
“It will be a tough year,” he said. “It’s not the best year to be reloading in the Cowapa.”
Wallace is likely out for the year, Goin said, although there is a chance for a late return.
It’s next year the Fishermen are really looking forward to.
“We’ve got good numbers at the younger levels,” Goin said. “It’s just the senior class where we only have two kids,” with Karsten Johnson and Michael Kee, a 6-foot-4 post who has not played since his freshman year.
Elsewhere, “the freshman numbers are good, and juniors and sophomores,” Goin said. “We’re going to be real young this year, so we’re probably a year away. The unfortunate part is that our league never seems to lose anybody. Everybody’s good.”
At least Astoria has size — Ian Hunt (6-5, Jr.), Conner Long (6-3, Jr.), Josh Olson (6-4, Jr.), and Peter Johnson, a 6-3 junior transfer from Port Angeles, Wash.
Two sophomores in the varsity lineup include Isaac Brockman and Ryan Stenblom.
“Most likely, there will five or six JV kids who swing,” Goin said. “We’ve got a huge (20 players) incoming freshmen class. The Johnson kid we added is real athletic, but hasn’t played a ton of basketball. He’s got a lot of skill, and will be a good player.
“Among the top eight or nine guys, there’s only one or two seniors, so we’ll bring back a pretty good nucleus.”
Astoria Boys Basketball
Coach: Kevin Goin, 4th year
2016-17: 10-13 (1-9 league)
All-league losses: Olaf Englund, Ryan Palek