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Skyhawks Blow-Out Beavers, Make School History on Cram the Cage Night

Kyle Pinnell

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Phil Vesel has accomplished many things as the head coach of Southridge High School’s varsity basketball team. He has taken the Hawks to play at the Rose Garden and coached them at one of the biggest tournaments on the west coast. As Vesel cut down the net and waved it in front of the Southridge fans, he added yet another accomplishment to the list, winning the Metro League in boys basketball for the first time in school history.

The “Cram the Cage” game lived up to the hype as the gym was packed all the way to the top of the upper bleachers with parents, fans, and two different groups of students going back and forth with one another for the majority of the game.

On Friday night, The Southridge Skyhawks jumped ahead early and never looked back as they went on to blow-out their cross-town rivals 78-56, sweep the season series, and win the Metro League title on senior night at Southridge High School.

With just under four minutes remaining in the third quarter and up 44-36, Southridge went on a 10-0 run to put the game out of reach for good. The run, which involved scrappy play and a few forced turnovers, started with a three by Brock Henry and was punctuated by an over-the-top alley-oop to Bradley Bickler who packed the ball into the net and sent the packed Southridge student section into a fit of hysteria.

Before the game even began, Vesel joked with the team by saying that they were finally playing a basketball game. After a days worth of build-up for the event, the Skyhawks were finally on the court. The Hawks shook the nerves off early, going up 9-2 halfway through the first quarter and they never looked back. Even as Beaverton made their runs, the Hawks were able to stay calm, cool, and collected en route to a 37-25 lead at the break.

For the Hawks, nothing much went wrong in the first half other than when senior, Jared Ebanks, landed wrong after a made jumper and had to be helped off the court. After the game, it was diagnosed as a sprained ankle that should only keep Ebanks out for a few days.

In the second half, after coming out sloppy and turning the ball over early, the Hawks tightened up their defense and went on to frustrate the Beavers the rest of the night with their length and quickness.

After the game, the seniors were still trying to soak in what they had just accomplished with the victory over their rivals. “It’s just cool being a part of making some history here. I’ve never been a part of no league title, nothing like that, but it feels great,” senior Bradley Bickler said.

As the season winds down, many players have brought up how special this years team has been and the connection that they all have all formed with one another. “We close, we’re family, and I can always count on my teammates, my family, to be there for me,” Bickler said.

And over the years in the program players have learned many skills that they can utilize later in life. For senior Jared Ebanks, that is work ethic and perseverance. “Battling a ton of adversity throughout my Southridge career and ending it on a high note even though I got hurt, playing with my teammates and encouraging them from the bench, it has been a great experience and has been a great journey throughout the season,” Ebanks said.

At the end of the night, while it may have been Beaverton who won the halftime tug-of-war battle, it was Southridge who won the game and, for now, a share of the Metro League title for the first time in school history.

“To be able to get over the hump is a tribute to everyone who played for Southridge,” Vesel said. “It’s not just about this team; it’s about all the kids who have come through and have been working towards trying to get it done.”

“I’m just happy we finally did it,” Filip Fullerton added. “We made our dreams come true, and now we gotta go win state.”

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Skyhawks Blow-Out Beavers, Make School History on Cram the Cage Night