Basketball

Greater Valley Conference basketball race heating up

Get ready for a closely contested boys basketball race in the Greater Valley Conference this season.

West Salem's Zac Bulgin (24) shoots the ball against Evergreen in the recent Capitol City Classic at Willamette University.

West Salem’s Zac Bulgin (24) shoots the ball against Evergreen in the recent Capitol City Classic at Willamette University.

Early results are in and it’s wide open.

“It’s the best I’ve ever seen it,” West Salem head coach Travis Myers said after Friday’s 56-47 win over McNary on the Titans’ home floor.

Granted, Myers is in his first season at the helm at West Salem, but it’s his sixth year in the conference – three years in the Central Valley Conference and the past three seasons in the GVC.

Heading into this week’s games, three GVC teams are ranked in the Top 10 in Class 6A: No. 3 West Salem (9-2, 2-1), No. 8 McKay (9-2, 3-0) and No. 10 McNary (10-2, 3-1).

McKay qualifies as perhaps the biggest surprise. The Royal Scots, who lead the state in scoring with an average of 88.3 points per game, were 6-18 overall last season and 3-13 in the GVC.

“I’m pretty sure we’re getting looked at more,” said McKay senior guard Shaton Daniels, the team’s leading scorer. “Other teams are preparing to play against us.”

McKay implements a run-and-gun, full-court pressure style with a squad that goes 10 deep.

“The hope is our style will win out,” McKay coach Dean Sanderson said.

Count Myers among the McKay believers. The Royal Scots posted a 99-98 victory Dec. 13 at West Salem.

“We couldn’t stop ‘em,” Myers said. “They got hot on us. They play fast and we got caught up trying to play their game.”

Friday’s matchup between West Salem and McNary was a grind-it-out game with few wide open looks or easy baskets in transition.

What makes the GVC so intriguing is “every team is different,” West Salem junior wing Kyle Greeley said.

“I expect it to be tight throughout this whole season,” Greeley added. “McNary’s a great team and to beat them, that’s one down. We’ve got a lot to go.”

Beginning with a home game Tuesday against co-GVC leader Sprague (7-1, 3-0), which features junior forward Teagan Quitoriano, a first team all-conference selection last season.

It’s been a struggle thus far for defending league champion South Salem (4-8, 1-3). The Saxons finished third in the state tournament last season, but the transfer of 6-foot-9 senior forward Khalid Thomas to West Linn has hurt.

McMinnville (7-3, 0-3) is still looking for its first conference win, but the Grizzlies took McKay to the wire Tuesday on the road in an 80-79 setback.

“The GVC is really strong,” McNary senior wing Cade Goff said after Friday’s loss. “I think the biggest thing we can do now is shake this off and come back with a chip on our shoulder to compete next game (Tuesday at McKay).”

In addition to South Salem’s success last season, which included a 16-0 mark in the GVC, McNary and West Salem advanced to the second round of the state playoffs, losing in the Round of 16.

It would come as no surprise if this season’s GVC race came down to the final week of the regular season.

“There’s seven teams that have a legitimate chance to make the playoffs in this conference,” Myers said. “If the matchups work right, you could have three teams playing in the final 16.”

Contact Gary Horowitz at ghorowitz@StatesmanJournal.com, or follow him on Twitter @GHorowitz

More on prep sports: 

McKay hoops a fast-paced success story
Blanchet’s Sophia Poole grows into leader, lifts team
Mid-Valley boys basketball standings (through Jan. 6)

GVC STANDINGS

McKay: 3-0, 9-2 overall

Sprague: 3-0, 7-1

McNary: 3-1, 10-2

Forest Grove: 3-1, 9-3

West Salem: 2-1, 9-2

South Salem: 1-3, 4-8

West Albany: 1-3, 2-9

McMinnville: 0-3, 7-3

North Salem: 0-4, 1-11

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McKay's Hayden Hull (24) tips the ball up to the basket over McMinnville's Isaiah Coste (14) on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, at McKay High School. The Royal Scots secured a 80-79 home victory.

McKay’s Hayden Hull (24) tips the ball up to the basket over McMinnville’s Isaiah Coste (14) on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017, at McKay High School. The Royal Scots secured a 80-79 home victory.

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