Addyson Clark, a 6-foot junior forward, is averaging a team-high 17 points per game for Sutherlin. (Photo by Rick Murphy)
Addyson Clark, a 6-foot junior forward, is averaging a team-high 17 points per game for Sutherlin. (Photo by Rick Murphy)

Sutherlin's girls basketball team knew that life after Micah Wicks wasn't going to be so simple.

The 5-foot-5 point guard -- a two-time 3A player of the year and the school's all-time leader in points, assists and steals – was the driving force behind state-contending teams, helping lead the Bulldogs to state finals in 2020 and 2021 and the semifinals in 2022 and 2023.

So if Sutherlin, which won five 4A titles from 2008 to 2017, was going to keep pursuing its first 3A championship, it would have to find a way to replace its engine.

“It's taken a little while to figure out how we're going to change and adapt to her being gone,” coach Josh Grotting said of Wicks, now playing for Lane Community College.

Through the first half of the season, Sutherlin is doing better than OK. The Bulldogs are 13-1 and ranked No. 3 in the OSAAtoday 3A coaches poll, winning their last 12 games since a loss to No. 2 Amity.

“I really thought we'd be OK,” Grotting said. “I thought it would take us a little longer than it's taken, but summer was crucial for us. They totally bought into what we're doing.”

The Bulldogs brought back three third-year starters in senior guard Madison Wagner (5-9), junior forward Madison Huntley (6-1) and senior guard Josie Vermillion (5-11). And they have benefited from the emergence of junior forward Addyson Clark (6-0), who missed most of last season after recovering from reconstructive hip surgery.

“We really weren't sure if she'd be able to play again,” Grotting said. “But she followed all the doctor's orders, and the physical therapy, and she's back to 100 percent now. She was just never 100 percent last season. Even at the state tournament, she played well and played hard, but she's a totally different kid this year.”

Grotting said that Clark “does a little bit of everything for us,” including time at point guard. She is averaging a team-leading 17 points, eight rebounds, four blocks, three steals and three assists per game. She is shooting a team-high 40 percent from three-point range (14 of 35).

Clark is becoming more productive as the season progresses, scoring 70 points during a recent three-game stretch. She is growing under the tutelage of assistant coach Tess Bennett, who was the 4A player of the year in leading Sutherlin to the 2008 title.

“She's right there with some of those better kids that we've ever had,” Grotting said of Clark.

Wagner is averaging 10 points, five rebounds and three assists and Huntley is putting up nine points, six rebounds and three assists per game. The team's fifth starter is senior guard Paige Edmonson, a soccer standout who spent the last two years playing behind Wicks and guard Ava Gill.

“She would have started most places the last couple years,” Grotting said.

Edmonson, Wagner and Clark have been sharing point-guard duties for the Bulldogs, who have a similar makeup to the outstanding 2008 and 2009 Sutherlin teams.

“We didn't have a true point guard in that group, and it was kind of by committee,” Grotting said. “These guys have responded really well to that. It's a little bit of a philosophical change in how we do things. This is probably one of the longer, taller teams that I've ever had, so I don't want to do a lot off the dribble.”

The Bulldogs hold road wins over 3A No. 9 Westside Christian and 4A No. 2 Philomath. In the 47-41 home loss to Amity, they led most of the way but were undone by their inability to take care of the ball down the stretch.

“The last couple years, we would've had Micah in that situation, and everybody would know who to get the ball to,” Grotting said. “That was our second game of the year, and we kind of crumbled.”

Sutherlin is the favorite in the Far West League, where it has won 48 consecutive games. The Bulldogs are 4-0 in league, including a 58-31 home win over co-No. 4 Coquille (15-1, 3-1).

Sutherlin went a combined 92-9 in the previous four seasons but fell short of its goal, losing in the state final to Clatskanie in 2020 and 2021 and in the semifinals to Nyssa in 2022 and Corbett last year. Grotting believes this year's team has what it takes to make another serious run.

“The last couple years, it's been one or two missed opportunities that really would've changed the game,” he said. “So we're trying to focus on those little things.”

Bales leads Crook County

Crook County freshman point guard Anna Bales was a force on both ends of the court in her team's 51-36 home win over The Dalles in the 4A Tri-Valley Conference opener for both teams Monday.

The 5-5 Bales not only scored a season-high 26 points, but she was a defensive terror with 13 steals and five deflections. She also had five rebounds and six assists for the Cowgirls (8-5).

For the season, Bales is averaging a whopping 10.2 steals to go with 11.6 points and 4.8 assists.

“I don't know if I've ever had a player that is so good at anticipating passes,” coach Bob Boback said. “She has these long arms, and she gets her hands on everything.”

Boback, who has coached for 22 seasons in Washington and Oregon, said that Bales is the best of the five freshman who have started at point guard on his teams.

“Right now she doesn't really have a weakness,” he said. “She's a really smart, competitive, all-around player. She does it all.”

Corvallis turns back Philomath

Senior Taylor Brasfield scored 15 points and junior Kate Rueck added 13 points, making four three-pointers, to lift 5A co-No. 6 Corvallis to a 46-42 win at 4A No. 2 Philomath on Friday.

The host Warriors (9-3) fell behind 14-5 but took a 24-20 lead into halftime on a three-pointer by junior Anneka Steen. Corvallis (10-2) pulled ahead by six points after three quarters before Philomath came back to tie at 38-38 on a basket by Steen with five minutes left.

Rueck hit her fourth three-pointer to give Corvallis a 44-40 lead. After a hoop by Steen made it 45-42 with one minute left, the Warriors regained possession with 21.4 seconds remaining, but Rueck came up with a steal and added a free throw for the final margin.

Steen had three three-pointers and scored a team-high 18 points for Philomath. The Warriors played much of the game without their leading scorer, sophomore guard Emily Taunisila, who was in foul trouble.

Notes: Lincoln junior guard Evie Littrell shot 10 of 16 from three-point range and scored 32 points in a 75-33 win over Roosevelt on Jan. 9. Her 10 three-pointers puts her in a six-way tie for No. 5 on the all-time list. The record is 14, set by Milwaukie's Cali Denson in 2022. … North Eugene senior MaeAni Dotts hit six three-pointers in a 29-point game, but it wasn't enough in a 62-55 loss to Springfield on Jan. 9. … Echo senior Nevaeh Thew scored 28 points, making six three-pointers, to lead her team past Nixyaawii 69-39 on Friday. … Salem Academy junior Sophie Pass collected 18 points, 16 rebounds and eight assists to help down Kennedy 63-45 on Jan. 9.