The Sunset Conference season kicks off Thursday with a trio of doubleheaders as the league’s teams begin pursuit of spots in the Class 2A playoffs.
And opening night includes a showdown of what might end up being the top two teams for both the girls and the boys when Coquille hosts Toledo.
Coquille’s girls are ranked second in the coaches poll with their lone loss an overtime defeat at top-ranked Kennedy. No. 9 Toledo, meanwhile, is 9-2 and the only other league team that finished over .500 in the preseason.
Toledo’s boys are prohibitive league favorites after a perfect preseason that has left the Boomers No. 1 in the OSAA power rankings and No. 2 in the coaches poll.
Coquille, meanwhile, is just 6-6 but has played a brutal schedule, with four losses to teams that have just one loss and another a two-point loss at No. 4 Kennedy. But the Red Devils, who are ranked ninth in the coaches poll, also lost at home to Reedsport, which is 5-5.
Waldport also is 6-6 and Gold Beach 5-4, suggesting their could be a good battle for the league’s second guaranteed berth in the playoffs.
In Class 2A this year, every league gets two spots and the final four playoff spots will be determined by the power rankings.
Thursday’s other doubleheaders are Reedsport at Bandon and Myrtle Point at Waldport.
On Saturday, Coquille visits Reedsport and Myrtle Point hosts Bandon before the league settles into its regular Tuesday-Friday schedule.
Girls tip off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the boys, for the first half of the league schedule. The second half, the boys play first.
North Bend continues Midwestern League play at home against Crater on Friday, with the girls tipping off at 5:15 p.m., followed by the boys.
The Comets are ranked sixth in the Class 5A coaches poll and feature one of the best players in the state, sophomore Nate Bittle. North Bend also has one of the state’s best in senior Jayden Frank. Crater is 7-4 overall and 1-1 in league while the Bulldogs are 5-3 and 1-2.
Crater’s girls are ranked No. 8 and are 9-2 overall and 2-0 in league play. North Bend is 7-2 and 2-0.
For Marshfield, the Sky-Em League doesn’t start conference play until next week, but all the teams are involved in a crossover tournament with the Skyline League on Friday and Saturday.
The boys are in Cottage Grove, facing Mazama at 5:30 p.m. Friday and Henley at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The girls are in Klamath Falls, facing Klamath Union at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Hidden Valley at 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Pirates remain No. 1 in the girls coaches poll while the boys are tied for second with Banks behind two-time defending champion Seaside.
Pacific’s boys and girls start the Class 1A Skyline League season on Friday at Riddle and host Camas Valley on Saturday.
The Pirates are the only Class 1A program on the South Coast this winter since Powers did not have enough players to field either boys or girls teams.