Pacific won the Class 1A boys basketball state title — and the Skyline League crown — before graduating five seniors at the end of last season.
Two of those graduated seniors, Jack Lehnherr and John Keeler, are now on the Umpqua Community College men’s basketball roster.
Those graduations open up the competition to the rest of the Skyline League.
Days Creek coach James Ellis said, “I think the league, like last year, is going to be a dog fight for almost every spot. On any given night anybody can beat anybody.”
Days Creek finished second last season and North Douglas third, but both of those teams are expected to have some key returners. Glendale was a close fourth place and with Riddle dropping down from 2A, much of the league should be competitive.
But in the boys basketball preseason coaches poll Umpqua Valley Christian was the lone county team to receive votes from coaches around the state. They were the 13th ranked team, tied with Damascus Christian.
The Monarchs will see the return of many of its starters including Aaron Buechley, who was a Skyline League second-team selection last season as well as an All-Defensive team selection.
UVC has a big turnout for the boys basketball team with 13 players on the varsity roster and 11 on the junior varsity, including six swing-players.
Umpqua Valley Christian has a sophomore-heavy team. There are six 10th-graders on the roster, no freshmen, three juniors and four seniors.
Kolby Mahoney, Jacob Luther and Jacob Mesa are the other seniors on the team this season.
The Hornets have four seniors on the roster and will once again be coached by Chris Sexton.
Camas Valley finished with a 14-10 overall season last year and graduated four seniors.
This year’s team will include 5-9 senior Justin Standley, 6-1 senior Nathan Powell, 5-10 senior Tyler Lindsey and 6-0 senior Matthew Powell.
Blake Ellis, Caleb Kruzic are two returning varsity starters for the Wolves, but the rest of the team is inexperienced at the varsity level.
“They are going to be our leaders,” Days Creek coach James Ellis said about Blake Ellis and Kruzic. “We’re going to do our best and try to fill in some new roles. We have some smart kids, but they just haven’t been tested much and you don’t know until they’re battle-proven.”
Blake Ellis and Kruzic received Skyline League honorable mention last season as Days Creek finished second in the Skyline League and fell to Nixyaawii in the second round of the playoffs last year.
Elkton’s big senior class from football season didn’t see the same turnout for the basketball season.
Mason Cox, Austin Luzier, Jaydn Woody and Spencer Moore did come out for the basketball squad, they will be helped by junior Micah Cox and five sophomores.
Elkton’s varsity roster does not have any freshmen.
Glendale lost three of its top players to graduation at the end of last season and will face an uphill battle trying to compete in the Skyline League.
The roster has four players listed over 6-feet, including 6-2 senior Trenten Ford.
North Douglas will play the Elkton Tip-Off Classic, Lowell Tournament, North Douglas Winter Invitational and McKenzie 1A Hoops Classic to get ready for league play.
Cal Parks, a 6-2 senior, returns for the Warriors. Parks was a first-team all-Skyline League selection last season.
Koldan Frieze, a 6-0 senior, received an honorable mention last year.
North Douglas fell to Hosanna Christian in the first round of the playoffs. There are no freshmen on the Warriors’ roster, with one sophomore, six juniors and five seniors.
Nate Hopkins, a 6-1 senior, was a 2A Mountain View Conference first-team selection last season and will get his chance to to shine in 1A team this year.
Riddle is the tallest team in the Skyline league, with seven of its players taller than 6-feet.
Mario Gianotti is a 6-3 freshman for the Irish this season. He’s one of five freshmen on the roster, which also includes two juniors and five seniors.
The Eagles will have their third coach in two years in Darwin Terry.
Yoncalla will start preseason play Wednesday at Rogue River.
The Mustangs will again play an independent schedule this season.