The Sunset Conference basketball season begins Tuesday night with the league’s teams battling for two automatic spots in the Class 2A playoffs and to keep their rankings high enough for possible at-large playoff berths or home playoff contests at the end of the regular season.
The league’s boys teams have been particularly strong, with the conference showing better depth than in recent years.
Toledo, Coquillle and Reedsport all are in the top six in the Oregon School Activities Association power rankings and Bandon and Myrtle Point are in the top 20.
Coquille has the best overall record at 9-1, the lone loss a close defeat on a neutral court to traditional Class 3A power Horizon Christian of Tualatin. The Red Devils are fifth in the power rankings and were sixth in last week’s coaches poll, with wins over three other teams in the top 10. This week’s poll will be released Tuesday.
Toledo is No. 2 in both the poll and power rankings, with two losses by a combined five points to Class 4A Sweet home and unbeaten Knappa. The Boomers return four of the five starters from last year’s league champion team that reached the state semifinals.
Reedsport is 9-2 and No. 6 in the power rankings, and had an eight-game win streak snapped Saturday in a loss at Oakland. Both Oakland and Sheridan, the other team to beat Reedsport, are in the top 10 in the coaches poll.
The Brave will be tested early, starting with a game at Coquille on Tuesday and then hosting Toledo on Friday.
Bandon is 8-3 and No. 18 in the power rankings. The Tigers have losses at Oakland and Lost River and at home to Class 3A Brookings-Harbor. The Tigers host Waldport to open league play Tuesday.
Myrtle Point is 8-5 and No. 20 in the rankings and has been in more close games than perhaps any other team in the state, including four overtime contests.
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The Bobcats open at home against Toledo on Tuesday and then visit Coquille on Thursday, a game moved up a day because of a lack of officials on the South Coast.
The league’s other two teams are Gold Beach (4-7) and Waldport (2-8).
The girls have a clear top-two in defending league champion Coquille, which came up one point short in the state championship game against Heppner and has the returning Class 2A player of the year in Morgan Baird, and Bandon, which is off to an 11-1 start.
The Red Devils are 10-1, the loss coming at home to Kennedy, which is No. 1 in this week’s coaches poll. Coquille is No. 2 in the coaches poll and No. 3 in the power rankings.
The Tigers suffered their loss to Brookings-Harbor, which is No. 4 in the Class 3A coaches poll, and have wins in both the Oakland and Bandon tournaments. Bandon has been bolstered by a group of veteran players and the addition of senior transfer Traylyn Arana, the team’s leading scorer.
Both Bandon and Coquille thrive on tough defense and have high scoring offenses. Coquille’s average margin of victory is just over 25 points and Bandon’s is just under 23. They won’t face each other until the last game in the first half of the league season and also meet in the final game of league play.
Gold Beach (7-5) and Toledo (6-5) also have records above .500 while Myrtle Point (4-9), Waldport (3-8) and Reedsport (0-11) round out the standings.
For the first round of league play, the boys will play first on game nights, tipping off at 5:30 p.m., followed by the girls about 7 p.m.
The top two teams from each of the six leagues advance to the Class 2A playoffs, along with the four highest teams in the power rankings that are not automatic qualifiers.