Marshfield’s boys and girls basketball teams begin the Sky-Em League’s five-week race for spots in the Class 4A basketball playoffs on Friday, when the Pirates visit Junction City.
The teams for the league’s six schools are aiming for top-two finishes, which would guarantee spots in the playoffs. Teams that don’t finish in the top two can advance to the play-in round if they are among the eight highest-ranked teams that don’t automatically qualify for the postseason.
Marshfield’s boys have the second-best power ranking in the league after a preseason that saw the Pirates at times play great, like when they won three straight games to take the title in a tournament at Astoria, and at times struggle mightily, like when they were badly beaten by Henley in the Sky-Em/Skyline Crossover last weekend.
The Pirates finished the preseason on an upswing in a hard-fought win over Klamath Union to finish the crossover. The team’s rotation lies heavily on sophomores, though senior Landon Ginn-Forsberg, one of the few holdovers from the varsity squad last winter, has emerged as a team leader with his hustle and experience.
Marist Catholic is the favorite for the boys, ranked first in the coaches poll and third in the OSAA power rankings. The Spartans (10-3 overall) open league play Friday with a home game against Elmira (4-9).
Marshfield is 10th in the power rankings and has appeared a couple of times in the coaches poll. The Pirates (8-4) visit Junction City (9-6), which is No. 13 in the rankings.
Friday’s other game features Siuslaw (6-8) and Cottage Grove (4-10). Siuslaw finished its preseason with a win over Mazama in the crossover, the Vikings’ first win over a Class 4A team in the preseason.
Cottage Grove is the clear favorite for the girls, the only team in the league with a winning preseason record. The Lions are 9-5 and have the highest spot in the power rankings at No. 10. They also are the only team in the coaches poll, ranked seventh.
Marshfield is 4-9 with an inexperienced team that returned just one player from the regular rotation of last year's league-champion team. The Pirates had a strong showing in the crossover with a win over Klamath Union and three solid quarters after a slow start against Mazama. Marshfield is 25th in the power rankings.
Marist Catholic is 5-6 and has been battle tested with three of its losses and three of its wins coming by five points or fewer. The Spartans are No. 15 in the power rankings. Junction City (6-8) is No. 16 and had a one-point win over Marshfield in a low-scoring third-place game at Marshfield’s home tournament in December.
Elmira (2-11) and Siuslaw (1-13) both have struggled in the preseason.
For the first round of league play, the boys will play the early game in the league doubleheaders, tipping off at 5:45 p.m.
Marshfield’s schedule is road-heavy for the first half of league play. In addition to Junction City, the Pirates are on the road against Siuslaw, Marist Catholic and Elmira, the lone home game coming Tuesday against Cottage Grove.
Marshfield also stays in the Bay Area on Saturday for the annual Civil War doubleheader with North Bend, when the girls tip off at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30.