The Oakland boys basketball team hasn’t won the Mountain View Conference regular season title since 2014, so that’s one of the things on its bucket list.
Of course, the most important goal for the Oakers is advancing to the OSAA Class 2A tournament in Pendleton.
There’s plenty of work in the meantime for Oakland (8-2), which opens MVC play Friday at Bonanza (2-8).
In other league openers, Oakridge (2-7) is at Lost River (4-5), Monroe (7-4) at Riddle (5-4) and Crow (1-8) at Butte Falls (3-3).
Oakland returned all five of its starters from last year’s team that finished 17-10 overall and lost to Stanfield in the first round of the 2A playoffs.
“I never look at us as the favorites,” said Jeff Clark, in his 24th season in Oakland. “Our goal is to be in the mix every year. This group is hungry to get a home game (in the playoffs) and make an appearance in Pendleton.”
Defending MVC champion Oakridge lost Joel Snyder, the conference’s player of the year and first-team all-state pick, and Jon Nchekwube, a first-team all-conference selection. Snyder graduated and Nchekwube transferred to 5A Churchill.
Monroe is talented and coming off a state championship football season, but has no seniors on its roster. Riddle is led by high-scoring junior guard Nate Hopkins.
Monroe is No. 7 and Oakland No. 10 in the OSAA 2A power rankings.
Oakland starts senior Andrew Harrington at point guard, seniors Sean Winn and Nic Freeman at wings, and seniors Cameron Benzel and Nathan Chastain at posts.
Freeman and Benzel earned first-team all-conference honors last year, Winn made the second team and Harrington received honorable mention. Freeman was honorable mention all-state.
“I feel like we’re getting better,” Clark said. “We had a couple of strides backwards, but finished the preseason with a great win against Glide (38-36). We want to continue to get better ... we have things to fix and improve.”
Oakland’s losses came to Regis, 44-37, and Western Mennonite, 88-48.
Benzel leads the Oakers in scoring (12 points), rebounding (11) and blocked shots (3). Freeman (11 points) and Winn (10 points) are also averaging in double figures.
Senior Reese Carson and sophomore Colton Brownson are the top reserves.
“Our balanced scoring has been great,” Clark said. “We have a lot of different guys who can score. We’ve shot the ball well, but not as good as we’re capable of.”
The Oakers are averaging 59.3 points and allowing 44.2 points a game.
Riddle has only one senior on its roster in Jared Wilson. The 6-1 Hopkins is one of the most athletic players in the 2A ranks.
Monroe’s young squad is led by sophomores Brian Goracke and Zach Young. The Dragons defeated 3A teams Vale and Creswell to end the nonconference season.