McKenzie River Reflections - Make the McKenzie Connection!

McKenzie Sports Report - April 21

 

April 21, 2022 | View PDF



Remember When???

My how times fly when you're having fun!!!! Or, perhaps, you might say, “where in the heck has the time gone!!” So we're going to talk ten years past and well, in light of all our more recent, collective life events that do indeed seem a speck in time in the way back.

One winter, athletics at McKenzie High School were heating up gymnasiums and headlining Sports pages around the State. The 2011-12 Eagle Varsity Girls Basketball team embraced the new season enthusiastically and you might say, sported a 'grudge' attitude. The Lady Eagles of 2010-11 finished their historic season with 20 wins and 6 losses overall, including a 12-3 Mt. West League season record.

McKenzie defeated Pacific in the 1st Round of the OSAA State 1A playoffs, but the Eagle's season screeched to a halt, courtesy of Perrydale, in the 2nd Round game. The game was close throughout, but the Pirates prevailed, 36-31.

That year the McKenzie Girls team had the opportunity to travel to Baker City for the OSAA Championship Games, but were relegated to a supportive role for the Eagle Boys team, which was blazing its own path through the State on the way to earning a Third place State trophy, at the time, the highest finish for a McKenzie team.

So, the Lady Eagles stewed and calculated all summer long, right up to the start to the 2011-12 season. First on the menu was the Mt. West League regular season schedule. Head Girls Coach Darin Harbick and Assistants Rick Harbick and Jerry Smith, kept their team focused on the grudge and the Eagles Girls swept the League with a perfect 14-0 record. That earned the Eagles a First Seed berth in the OSAA State 1A Girls Basketball playoffs, a First Round bye, and a home advantage in the Second Round game.

Who should arrive in Finn Rock for that Second Round match-up, with upset on their agenda? Those Pirates of Perrydale! This time, sporting their grudge and a yearlong memory, the Eagles turned the tables on the Pirates and sent them home with an impressive 52-23 defeat. That win launched McKenzie into the OSAA State Quarterfinals and over the Cascade Hump they traveled to Baker City, this time as the top ranked team in the State, sporting a mighty fine 25-1 overall record. The Eagle Quarterfinal opponent at Baker City was Elkton and Coach Harbick's team clobbered the Elks 69-38. Advancing to the Championship Semi-Finals,

McKenzie would next toe-up to the always dangerous and well-coached Condon/Wheeler Blue Devils, 71-56 winners in their Quarterfinal game versus Pine Eagle. It was a hard fought battle from the opening tip, but the Eagle grudge held true and McKenzie earned its first State Championship Title berth in School history, defeating Condon/Wheeler 49-40.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire they always say, and sure enough, it was time for the high-flying Eagles to prove their dazzling 27-1 record wasn't a fluke. Waiting in the other locker room, just as intent on reeking havoc on their opponents Championship game plans, were the Buckaroos of St. Paul. St. Paul, a perennial powerhouse. Sitting at 22-5, they were the State's second ranked team, so it was put up or shut up, number one versus number two. Just the way the story should go.

McKenzie played true to form that March day, defeating the tough team from the North, hailing from up by Portland. McKenzie won 44-33, pushed their overall record to 28-1, and claimed McKenzie's first Class 1A State Basketball Championship trophy.

McKenzie's senior Karissa Harbick and junior cousin Taya Harbick both earned U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires First Team All Tournament honors. Karissa was named the ODS McKenzie Player of the Championship Game. Head Coach Darin Harbick was named OSAA Class 1A Coach of the Year. Other year-end awards earned were Taya Harbick, Mt. West League Most Valuable Player and she joined Karissa on the MWL All League First Team. Junior Sydney King and sophomore Makaila Hiddleston each earned a MWL All League Second Team award and junior Taylor Harbick earned a MWL All League Honorable Mention award. Karissa would move on to play collegiate basketball at Oregon Institute of Technology and Taya would play at Bushnell University and New Hope Christian.

But wait a doggone second! That's not the rest of the story, despite how Mr. Paul Harvey used to exclaim! You see the Eagle Girls had to share gym time with the Eagle Boys, coached by Head Coach Mike Wiley. And the McKenzie boys were diligently working on their own winning streak, in fact, also running the MWL table, 14-0, and qualifying for the 2012 OSAA State playoffs as the top seed out of the MWL.

Following a first round bye, the Eagles hosted North Clackamas Christian in the OSAA State Second Round in the always-tough Eagle gymnasium back then and promptly punched their own ticket to the Quarterfinal Round in Baker City with a 61-36 thrashing of NCC.

Ranked number two in the State entering the State Championship Quarterfinals (Country Christian was number one ranked), McKenzie's first draw in the Championship Rounds was seventh ranked Rogue Valley Adventist. Same old story as Coach Wiley's team ran their unblemished overall record to 27-0 by easily outscoring the Rogue boys 66-42. Sherman, the Eagles Semi-Final opponent didn't fare much better, losing to the red-hot Eagles 63-46. Thus, the stage was set.

Two McKenzie teams, both earning a berth in the State Championship game. Could it be that....? But, alas, it was not meant to be for the Eagle Boys this season. At tip off time, the team facing them was the tall and talented Horizon Christian team from up on the Columbia. The Big Sky League Champion Hawks had been playing some inspired ball of their own. Needless to say, Horizon Christian was respectful of the undefeated Eagles but shall we say, enthusiastically embraced the challenge and at the end of the knockdown drag-out, in the Final State Game played on the vaunted Baker City court, McKenzie fell for the first time of the season, losing 46-58.

The Eagle Boys overall record would lock in at 29-1 for the 2011-12 season. Senior Eagles Jordan Wiley and Kendell Reese were selected for the U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires All-Tournament First Team. Wiley was a unanimous pick. Reese was chosen as the ODS McKenzie Championship Player of the Game. Wiley would earn the honor of Class 1A Oregon State Basketball Player of the Year for 2012 and move on for a very successful four-year basketball career at Western Oregon University.

Finally, the Winter season at McKenzie also saw success with the Eagle wrestling team. McKenzie's Brody Ballester earned a fourth place finish at the District Championships. All in all, not a bad way to spend a Winter in the McKenzie River Valley, watching historic Eagle basketball and wrestling and renewing friendships and rivalries across the State. And as Coach Wiley used to share with his teams, spend a weeklong vacation in sunny (mostly, and cold) Baker City. And hats off to those Baker City folks, they sure know how to throw a party!!!

 

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