It didn’t take long for Warrenton boys sports to go from “poor Warrenton” to “look out for the Warriors.”
A league title in baseball last spring, a 2A state playoff game in football this fall, and if all goes well for the Warriors, a new league will help Warrenton boys basketball return to the postseason this winter.
“We’re getting better in all sports across the board,” said Warrenton basketball coach Nate McBride, a former three-sport star with the Warriors. “Baseball won a league championship, football was really competitive making the state playoffs, and I can see that in coaching the kids. Our numbers are up in all programs.”
THE COASTAL RANGE LEAGUE
For better or worse, the rivalry with the private schools is no longer there for the Warriors.
The “better” part is obvious: No more lopsided losses. The last two years have included losses to De La Salle, Catlin Gabel and Portland Adventist by scores such as 82-31, 80-39, 79-34 and 84-33.
And the addition of Taft and Willamina has leveled the playing field in the new league.
“We welcome it, for sure,” McBride said. “In football (the drop to a 2A league) was huge, just being able to play the right kind of teams. If you can imagine us trying to play Rainier.”
In basketball, “Just not having to play the De La Salles and PAAs, those top-tier teams every night. In the past, our kids could play good, but lose by 20 in every one of them.”
And in a fairly even league, eight wins could win league.
“I look at our schedule, and there’s games that we could lose, but I don’t look at any of them and say ‘we can’t win that game,’” McBride said.
“Rainier will be an interesting team. They lost two extremely talented kids, but they’re really physical and they play hard. (Joey) Tripp’s a great point guard, and (Easton) Crape has started since he was a freshman.
“Clatskanie has some injuries and a kid or two that’s moved away. They will still be pretty good. They’re not real big, but they’re athletic.
“The league will be pretty even and balanced.”
New league opponents Taft and Willamina finished 3-11 and 7-7, respectively, last year in the West Valley League.
There’s also not a single player in the new Coastal Range League who was a first-team all-league player last year. Last season’s Lewis & Clark all-league squad had one player each from De La Salle, Catlin Gabel, Portland Adventist and Oregon Episcopal, and one senior each from Clatskanie and Rainier.
“Now our kids realize they can compete every night,” McBride said. “There were times last year when they were just overwhelmed with the teams we’d have to go out and play every night. It’s tough to find wins against those teams.”
The Warriors play a nonleague game Dec. 14 at Astoria.
“I’m excited for that one,” McBride said. “Our kids can play in front of a bigger crowd, and Warrenton hasn’t played Astoria in a long time.”
Despite playing each league team three times during the regular season, the Coastal Range League will still have league playoffs, with four of the five teams competing.
All of a sudden, the Warriors are loaded with experience.
The four seniors are four-year starter Dalton Knight, Kale’o Kapua, A.J. Schenbeck and Ayden Stephens.
The junior class includes Devin Jackson, Austin Little and Jake Morrow, who is currently sidelined by an ankle injury, but will return in mid-December.
“(Morrow) is our point guard, and our most complete player,” McBride said. “All three (juniors) will start and will be impact players.”
Sophomores include Ethan Green and Jalen Maddox, who will see action at point guard until Morrow returns.
Freshman Hordie Bodden Bodden (“by far our most athletic kid,” McBride said) will be a big contributor for the varsity, as he was in football.
Prediction: From a league record of 4-76 over the last five years, to a return to the postseason. Playoffs again for Warrenton boys basketball.
Coach: Nate McBride, 6th year
2017-18: 1-23 (0-16 league)