STAYTON — The Regis High girls basketball team suffered a heartbreaking end to their season with an upset at home by lower seeded Imbler in the first round of the Class 2A state playoffs.
Over the last decade the Rams have built a powerhouse, winning five state championships. They won their first title as a member of Class 3A in 2010 and then proceeded to win four more consecutive championships after dropping down to Class 2A.
Entering the state playoffs this year, the Rams were the No. 5 seed and expected to make another strong run through the state tournament in Pendleton, but fell victim to a motivated Imbler squad.
“I thought our season was very successful and in that game, we didn’t have a great night shooting,” first-year coach Stuart Alley said. “We just had a couple mistakes down the stretch, but Imbler is a good team and when you let a good team hang around like that, anything can happen.”
Despite the loss, Alley believes the team played well throughout the season. They finished third in a competitive Tri-River Conference, which featured the state champion (Kennedy) and the third-place finisher (Western Mennonite).
“As a group we all thought it was a disappointment we didn’t get there (state tournament), but we also realize we had a great, successful year,” Alley said. “Sometimes the ball bounces your way (and) sometimes it doesn’t. We’ll take what we learn from this year and improve on it next year.”
Regis loses four seniors, including Tri-River Conference second-team player Emma VanVeen and honorable mention Camille Dickey.
“This was my favorite season of all of them (because) it’s not always about making it to the championship,” VanVeen said. “You overcome a lot of things along the way like our team did (and) just because we didn’t make it to the state tournament didn’t mean we didn’t make it anywhere.”
Next season they’ll return two other members of the Tri-River Conference second-team, Abigail Frith and Paige Rickman.
“We’ve got a great group of girls coming back,” Alley said. “I thought the seniors this year were great leaders and great role models for them (and) I think people that are returning next season learned a lot.”
Alley, who had former coach Jeff Koehnke on staff, knew he had big shoes to fill. Even though the squad didn’t make it to the state tournament, he felt he kept the program moving in the right direction.
“Throughout the season, we progressed and got better,” Alley said. “Regis has got a great tradition and history and our goal every year is to get to Pendleton.”
“He did really well for his first season and I’m excited to see what he does next year,” VanVeen said.
lramirez@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/@LuisRamirez10