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Adding some bite to its bark: Sherman using forfeit as motivation

Big Sky Standings

Boys Basketball (West Div.)

Team Overall Lg.

Horizon 21-0 10-0

S. Wasco 16-3 9-1

Sherman 13-8 7-4

Dufur 5-14 3-7

Central 1-15 0-11


Boys Basketball (East Div.)

Team Overall Lg.

Echo 10-10 7-4

Condon 11-9 6-5

Nixyaawii 9-11 6-6

Ione 9-8 5-5

Arlington 12-7 5-6

Griswold 3-17 1-10

— In a span of 36 hours, the Sherman Huskies went from one game back of second place in the Big Sky Conference after a 77-68 win over South Wasco County to sole possession of third place, two games behind the Redsides.

The reason?

Due to an Oregon School Activities Association violation for use of an ineligible player, who exceeded daily participation limits, the Huskies had to forfeit their Tuesday win.

Essentially, that decision secured Sherman a No. 3 seed in the upcoming district tournament later this month.

Sherman guard Jailin Conboy expressed his disappointment, but said the show must go on.

“It is tough. It really is. On both our teammates and our coaching staff, but we will go into districts now as a number three, but that doesn’t matter to us. We are ready to take on whoever,” Conboy said.

Although a shade behind last season’s offensive and defensive marks, the Huskies have done some good things in their 21 games this year.

Through this season, Sherman has amassed four winning streaks of two games or more including a five-game roll from Dec. 21 to Jan. 7 with victories over Wallowa, Pine Eagle, Condon-Wheeler, Ione and Southwest Christian.

One caveat to the success is the Huskies are hitting the hardwood every night without four graduated seniors, so a lot of the leadership aspects are taken on by seniors Riley Brown and Brian Simantel, junior Nick Coleman and sophomore Austin Kaseberg.

Another point is health, an issue that stung the Huskies early on, but aside from a major injury sustained by Ben Holliday, they are the healthiest since the first month of action.

Coleman is now back in the fold at the point guard slot — leading an offense that is 12-2 when its tallies 60 points or more.

Simantel is happy to get one of the state’s purest shooters in the trenches alongside him.

“He is always there and he shoots the lights out anytime he gets the ball,” Simantel said of Coleman’s attributes. “It is nice to have him on the court as our safety outlet. He is as good of a point guard as you can have. He does a great job of distributing the ball and shooting.”

Added to the roster are four players: Senior Alex Riggs; junior forward Cody Jauken; and, up-and-coming freshmen Alex Fields and Wyatt Stutzman.

Conboy, a transfer from Goldendale, Wash., has delivered in spades this season adding versatility and a scoring touch at the shooting guard position anchoring down the backcourt with a handful of double-doubles and a few 30-point games.

Back in Goldendale, Conboy knew there were raised expectations of winning in place in that program, so coming to Sherman, he is mindful of this recent success.

He has joined this Husky roster with his focus on hoisting some hardware.

“We are ready and rolling,” said the Husky junior. “We have learned to adjust to at least one player missing in each game, but we are better than ever right about now. It is time to get back in this and make our name.”

The game that showed Sherman they have the ability to compete against some of the top teams in the state was Tuesday’s contest, especially after they previously lost to the Redsides by three points Jan. 12.

Before news dropped on the forfeit, Simantel expressed his level of pride in his team’s grit and determination.

“I think our ability to come back and beat Maupin shows now that we are a team to beat around the state,” Simantel said. “We know we can win. We have the talent. We just have to play our hardest every night so we can win games.”

The biggest difference rests between the ears.

Conboy realizes that this team is continuing to grow together and Tuesday’s performance solidified that thought.

“On the loss though – we know we won that game, so does Maupin,” Conboy said. “I guarantee they worry about us and know we are still coming for them, and not only them, but state.”

Under his watch, head coach Mike Somnis has developed a winning philosophy and a more exciting brand of basketball that has equaled a 92-40 record overall and a 54-18 mark in league play.

Those numbers lent itself to two regular season Big Sky West Division crowns and a third-place trophy at state last season.

He also has back-to-back top coaching awards for his effort.

Faced with one of his biggest challenges, Somnis continues his imprint on this roster.

He is cautiously optimistic that the Huskies can keep the roll going to make postseason noise.

“If the boys want it bad enough. If they come out and play hard and up to their capabilities, they are a good team,” Somnis said. “If we keep that same effort and keep that same competitiveness, we are going to have a chance to win basketball games, plain and simple. That is the type of attitude and that is what we need to bring every single game.”

Sherman plays again at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in a home duel against Dufur.

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