Boys playoff basketball returns for two Malheur County high schools

The Vale boys basketball team prepares to leave for Medford to face Cascade Christian in their first round playoff game Monday. (Photo courtesy of Holly and Wayne Stepleton)

VALE – State playoff time is here for high school boys basketball as Vale and Adrian prepare to play their first round games Monday night.

The Vale ball team is scheduled to play Cascade Christian in Medford tonight at 5 p.m. PST to kick off the 3A Boys Elite 8 tournament. 

Adrian travels to North Powder to take on the undefeated Damascus Christian at 5:15 p.m. PST in the first round of the Oregon 1A State Championships. Adrian finished the season with a 4-1 record while Damascus Christian finished 9-0. 

The Vale Vikings received an automatic bid into the Elite 8 tournament after winning the 3A Eastern Oregon League and their 5-3 record drew them an eighth seed. 

The Elite 8 tournament has taken the place of the usual 3A playoffs that includes 16 teams. This year, the six league champions received automatic slots in the tournament with two other teams receiving at-large places. 

The Vikings face the number one seed Cascade Christian Challengers of Medford, who finished the season 11-0.

Vale’s offense will have their hands full with a Cascade Christian team that has dominated on defense. The Challengers allowed the fewest points this season of any team in the tournament.

“Obviously, we are the underdogs. But we have a young team and just as much of a chance as anyone else in the state. That’s how we are approaching it,” said Vale Coach Colby Shira. 

The Vikings have only one senior on the roster, making them the youngest team in the tournament.

Colby said the Vikings were viewed as underdogs throughout the season because of their youth but that they had just as much talent as anyone else. Vale’s only losses on the season came to larger 4A teams, Baker and La Grande. 

After learning where and who they would be playing on Saturday morning, the Vikings had to pack quickly before driving to Medford on Sunday morning. 

If they win tonight, the Vikings will head straight to Coos Bay to play Thursday at either 5 p.m. or 7 p.m. PST. But after a shortened season, Shira said the team doesn’t care how far they have to travel to play.

“We’d go anywhere to play basketball,” said Shira. 

News tip? Contact reporter Joey Cappelletti at [email protected] or 616-610-3093.