Bandon senior guard Katelyn Senn (right) is averaging 16.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. (Tom Hutton Photography)
Bandon senior guard Katelyn Senn (right) is averaging 16.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists. (Tom Hutton Photography)

A year ago, injuries kept Bandon's girls basketball team from reaching its ceiling.

“We thought that we would've been in the mix if we would've stayed healthy,” said coach Jordan Sammons, whose team was a 2A quarterfinalist last season.

Now at full strength, the Tigers are starting to realize their vast potential.

Bandon is 6-1 and ranked No. 1 in the OSAAtoday 2A coaches poll. The Tigers have defeated No. 2 Western Christian 55-42 and No. 7 Colton 36-30. They also won 45-25 at reigning Valley Coast Conference champion Central Linn, which beat them twice last season to claim the conference title.

Bandon's only loss is a 44-39 decision against 4A No. 3 Philomath in the Les Schwab South Coast Invitational at Marshfield High School on Dec. 16.

“On any given night, we fully believe they can play with any team in the state,” said Sammons, who led teams to the semifinals in 2020 and 2022. “If they can stay together as a team, and continue to grow, they could be just as good as any team I've coached. They have all the pieces, they have the work ethic. They have all the qualities to be great.”

The big key for the Tigers is the return of senior guard Katelyn Senn. As a sophomore, she was the conference player of the year and first-team all-state, but she suffered a torn ligament in her ankle in January and missed the second half of her junior season. Now she is back and averaging a team-high 16.1 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists.

“Katelyn's playing the best basketball she's ever played right now,” Sammons said. “It was really rough on her last year. Sitting out that time was challenging for her, but she was able to work on her athleticism.”

Senior guard Olivia Thompson, last season's Valley Coast defensive player of the year and a two-time first-team all-conference selection, is averaging 11.9 points, 4.3 rebounds and 2.0 assists. She is healthy after missing 10 games last season.

Junior forward Makenna Vierck, who sat out the first 10 games last season after having offseason knee surgery, is putting up 7.0 points and 7.0 rebounds per game. Senior guard Lizzy Stice also was a starter last season.

“Katelyn's and Olivia's ability to get to the rim really kind of opens up things for everybody else to catch and shoot,” Sammons said. “Makenna's been playing really well inside. She's kind of come on this year as a scorer.”

Against Western Christian (7-1), Bandon trailed by eight points in the third quarter before rallying to pull ahead midway through the fourth quarter. Against Colton (4-2), the Tigers led 17-3 in the first quarter and held off a late surge by the Vikings in a game played without the high school three-point line at the Moda Center.

“They were really competitive games and we found a way to pull out both of them late,” Sammons said. “It's huge for us confidence-wise, and also just getting the experience to get on the floor with two of the top teams in our classification.”

The Tigers fell behind Philomath by 15 points in the second half and came back to make it a one-possession game in the final minute before losing.

“It was awesome for us to get to see that speed and athleticism and talent from a bigger school,” Sammons said.

The Tigers are looking to face some strong teams in their Bandon Dunes Tournament this week. They meet 1A Camas Valley (5-1) on Wednesday, and depending on results, they could see 1A No. 3 North Douglas (5-1) in the semifinals and 3A No. 3 Coquille (9-0) in the final.

Pelican turnaround

Klamath Union, which hasn't finished with a winning record since 2016, is off to a 7-0 start.

The 4A Pelicans are turning a corner in their third season under coach John Najar, who guided them to 10-13 and 8-10 records in his first two seasons. They are winning with defense, outscoring opponents by an average of 58.6 to 32.0.

“We've done a good job of taking care of business, defensively, in the second halves of our games,” Najar said. “Our defense figures out our opponent and really locks in.”

The Pelicans held North Valley to three points in the second half, breaking from a 20-20 tie to win 43-23 in the Christmas Classic at Cascade Christian last week. They came back from an 18-point deficit in the fourth quarter to win at 5A Eagle Point 54-53 on Dec. 15.

Najar said the Eagle Point game turned after the Pelicans “started playing with joy” following a fourth-quarter timeout.

“The team was giving great effort, but were definitely stressed,” he said. “I told them, 'Win or lose, go have fun,' because this is when they are tough to deal with.”

Senior forward Keely Hall is averaging 16.9 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 steals. The Pelicans also are getting solid play from senior guards Dianara Pena (13.0 points, 2.8 assists, 3.2 steals) and Kshalee Thomas (11.1 points, 2.6 steals, 17 of 34 on three-pointers).

“We have a great and experienced roster who are tough and know how to win,” Najar said. “They get along and, more so than the last few years, they play as a team. They trust each other.”

Unranked Klamath Union meets 4A No. 7 Stayton (5-1) on Wednesday in the opening round of the SCTC Holiday Classic at Stayton.

POA Holiday Classic

The entire top 10 of the 6A coaches poll will play in the POA Holiday Classic on Thursday through Saturday at Franklin, Lincoln and Grant high schools.

The Open division at Franklin does not have bracket play, instead offering three days of scheduled games featuring No. 1 Clackamas, No. 2 Benson and No. 3 Willamette with five out-of-state teams – three from California (Archbishop Mitty, Mater Dei, Etiwanda) and one each from Washington (Camas) and Texas (DeSoto).

In games between the Oregon teams, Benson plays Willamette on Thursday and Clackamas on Friday.

The Platinum bracket includes No. 4 South Medford, No. 5 Jefferson and No. 8 West Linn and the Diamond bracket has No. 6 Tualatin, No. 7 Jesuit and No. 9 McMinnville. No. 10 Nelson will play in the Emerald bracket.

Schedules are available online at