As the new year looms, the Bruins boys and girls basketball teams finish up their pre-league season this weekend at the North Valley Winter Blast Tournament. They’ll then begin league play on Dec. 8 in the new 3A iteration of the Far West League.

Both teams will go up against some familiar faces this year as they play Douglas and South Umpqua, but the rest of the league will be new blood as they play Cascade Christian, Sutherland and St. Mary’s.

The Bruins will miss the Salem Academy Tournmanet this year as a lack of participating teams led to their bracket being canceled. The Bruins may end up picking up an additional game to help fill in the gap, but otherwise, conclude their pre-league season at North Valley.

Boys basketball

The Bruins boys had a successful pre-season this year, coming out just ahead at a 5-4 overall record against mostly 5A and 4A opponents. In their pre-league play so far, they have scored a total of 521 points while giving up only 487 to their opponents. They are currently ranked No. 11 in the OSAA 3A rankings, the second highest in their league.

The Bruins will kick off league play Jan. 8 against one of their longstanding rivals, the Douglas Trojans. The Trojans have had a modest year at a 2-7 record so far, far behind the Bruins at No. 33 in the OSAA 3A rankings.

The Trojans were competitive with the Bruins last year as the Bruins only narrowly pulled a 58-53 overtime win and a 71-70 win in their league games. The Trojans did lose the bulk of their team as graduating seniors, however, so may be looking at a rebuilding year as the debut in the new league.

Looking to be one of the frontrunners in the league this year, the Sutherland Bulldogs will be the Bruins second opponent and their first new league rival after the move. With a powerful 11-2 record in their pre-league season, the Bulldogs are currently ranked No. 6 in the OSAA 3A rankings, the highest in the league.

While they didn’t face each other in regular play last year, the Bruins and Bulldogs faced off during playoffs. The Bulldogs managed to beat the Bruins 53-39 knocking them out in the play-in round. The Bulldogs graduated three seniors last year and kept most of their team coming into the season.

The Bruins other returning rival will be South Umpqua, who has struggled in pre-league play so far this year with a 1-10 record but still boasts an experienced team with mostly seniors. The Bruins beat them both times in league play last year at 49-37 and 53-25.

The Bruins other two new league opponents will be St. Mary’s and Cascade Chrisitan, which are both 3A private schools. St. Mary’s is looking strong this year with a 6-5 record and a veteran team, while Cascade Christian looks to be in a rebuilding year with a 1-8 overall record. According to Bruins coach Buell Gonzales, he’s faced both teams on occasion at tournaments and is expecting a challenge.

While the Bruins transitioned from 4A to 3A, their new league looks no less competitive than last year. The Bruins should have a strong showing this season as they make their 3A debut with a team of mostly upperclassmen.

Girls basketball

Coming off a strong season last year with an 8-2 overall season and a playoff game against Baker, the Bruins head into league play at the 3A level at a modest 4-5. They’ve scored 477 points this season while allowing 473 to be scored on them.

The Bruins are young this year, with only Chloe McCrae and Mickey Fulton returning as seniors. With the loss of Abbey Farmer, the Bruins have been working to fill the gaps and reorganize the team as they prepare to debut in their new league.

The Bruins go up against their first opponent on Jan. 8, who will be returning rivals, the Douglas Trojans. The Bruins defeated the Trojans 41-32 and 41-36 last year.

The Trojans have a strong group of returning players this year, with five seniors and four returning sophomores making up most of the varsity team. They’ve had a strong pre-league season so far with a 6-1 overall record, ranked No. 11 in the OSAA 3A rankings and the highest in the league.

The first new faces the Bruins will see in league play will be the Sutherlin Bulldogs, who are currently 6-7 overall. The Bruins never had the opportunity to face the Bulldogs last year, but the Bulldogs were competitive in their league and qualified for a play-in game against Mazama. The Bulldogs also boast a younger team this year with only two seniors, similar to the Bruins.

The other returning rivals, the South Umpqua Lancers, are currently 5-6 overall in pre-league play. They boast a veteran team this year, mostly consisting of juniors and a couple seniors. The Bruins beat them handily last year at 51-34 and 57-41.

Cascade Christian and St. Mary’s are the other two new opponents the Bruins will be facing in league play this year. Both private schools, they are currently 3-7 and 6-3 overall respectively. Both teams are fairly balanced in terms of experience, with mixed teams of upper and lower classmen.

According to Bruins coach Chris Schofield, the team is still adjusting to new roles after losing Farmer and the rest of last year’s seniors, but he is still confident the team will be able to remain competitive this year.

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