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Marshfield’s boys and girls basketball teams start their first seasons in the Sky-Em League on Friday when the Pirates host Junction City.

The league’s six teams start a five-week sprint for the two guaranteed spots in the Class 4A playoffs. Eight additional teams from the six leagues will be in the Class 4A play-in round, decided by the Oregon School Activities Association power rankings.

Marshfield’s boys and girls have by far the best spot in the power rankings for the league and are favored to sweep the league titles.

Marshfield’s girls remain No. 1 in both the coaches poll and the power rankings. Marshfield’s only loss came at No. 2 North Marion just after the Pirates returned from their trip to Arizona, where they won a tournament that included several much bigger schools.

North Marion suffered its first loss to an Oregon Class 4A school when it fell to No. 3 Banks in a nonleague game Tuesday. North Marion beat the Braves by one point in a tournament at Grants Pass in December.

Marshfield’s girls enter league play at 12-1. Marist Catholic, another newcomer to the Sky-Em League after dropping down from Class 5A where it won the state title last year, is 8-5 and ranked No. 7. Junction City (9-5) is ranked ninth and Cottage Grove (7-6) is No. 10 in the coaches poll. All three also are in the top 10 in the power rankings, though not in the same order.

Marist has lost twice to Hidden Valley, a team Marshfield has beaten twice. Junction City was in Coos Bay for the Les Schwab South Coast Holiday Tournament in December, where it went 1-2. Cottage Grove lost to Marist Catholic as well as Hidden Valley in the preseason.

The other two girls teams are 4-10 Siuslaw and 2-10 Elmira.

Marshfield’s boys are 9-3 in the preseason and ranked third in both the coaches polls and power rankings and are the only Sky-Em team to be in the top 10 in either ranking system. They have not lost to an Oregon Class 4A team.

The Pirates follow Friday’s game against Junction City with a recently scheduled game Saturday against No. 4 Woodburn at Southwestern Oregon Community College, scheduled to tip off at 3:30 p.m. The high school gym is being used for a youth wrestling tournament that day. 

Marist Catholic is the only other league team over .500 in the preseason at 7-6 and is ranked 12th in the power rankings. Elmiira is 6-6 with a win over North Bend and is riding a four-game win streak. Junction City is 6-8 (though the Tigers finished eighth in the Les Schwab tournament), Siuslaw 5-9 and Cottage Grove 2-12.

For the first half of league play, the boys will play first, at 5:45 p.m., followed by the girls about 7:30. In a schedule quirk, Marshfield plays four of its five games in the first round of league play at home, the only road trip coming Tuesday at Cottage Grove. The Pirates also host North Bend in a nonleague doubleheader on Jan. 19, one night after facing Siuslaw.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at john.gunther@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.

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Sports Editor