For the most part, except for the loss of Treve Martin, the Sherman Huskies have remained relatively healthy and injury-free.
Once the state playoffs in Baker started mid-week, though, a virus hit the Husky roster hard limiting any effectiveness on the basketball court.
Coming off a 50-40 loss to eventual state champion, Country Christian on Wednesday, No. 8 Sherman had its season cut short in a 58-53 loss to Yoncalla Thursday in a consolation matchup played at the OSAA state tournament.
“I’m proud of the effort our guys gave on the floor during the state tournament,” said Sherman coach Bill Blevins. “They weren’t at their best physically, but they gave what they could.”
Against Yoncalla, the Huskies fell behind by as much as nine points at 33-24 at halftime, but battled in the third quarter with a 15-5 run to take a 39-38 edge into the fourth quarter.
During that run, Austin Kaseberg scored the first nine points on a jumper and a foul and back-to-back long balls to move his squad ahead 34-33 with 3:54 left.
With Yoncalla ahead 36-34, Kaseberg swished another 3-pointer and after a basket by Yoncalla’s Joe Keller, Kyle Fields hit a layup to give Sherman a 39-38 lead.
With 5:23 left and the Huskies down 48-46, Kaseberg hit a three-point play.
At the 3:49 mark, Isaiah Coles sank a jumper to give the Huskies their biggest lead of the game, 51-48.
Zack Van Loon then dropped a jumper and a foul shot to tie the score at 51-all with 3:06 left, and Coles followed up with a jumper to switch the Huskies in front, 53-51 and 2:42 on the clock.
In the last two minutes, the Huskies missed their final two shots, misfired on a front-end free throw and committed a turnover.
Yoncalla had a 3-pointer by Shaw, a jumper by Keller and Van Loon made two free throws with five seconds left to seal the win.
Kaseberg had 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting, and he added six rebounds, five assists, a block and a steal.
Coles and Max Martin had 11 points each, and Fields hit on eight points, as Sherman shot 18 of 38 for the game, 47 percent.
Sherman outrebounded Yoncalla 29-22, but committed 16 turnovers to Yoncalla’s eight.
Van Loon led with 22 points, Shaw had 18 and Keeler got eight points Yoncalla shot 23 of 52.
“During our second game, Jacob Justesen was at the Baker City hospital getting treated for walking pneumonia,” Blevins said. “Alex Fields and Anthony Lloyd did a nice job in his place versus Yoncalla. After the second game, Max Martin and Isaiah Coles were taken to the hospital and diagnosed with the flu.”
On the year, Sherman went 21-7 and clinched the No. 2 seed out of the Big Sky, lost in the district title game, 48-47, to Horizon Christian.
As one of the seniors on this young team, Kaseberg, who missed eight games earlier this season due to a hand injury, found his groove in the final month.
In his final six games, Kaseberg averaged 18 points and 6.1 rebounds, including 27 against Life Christian on Feb. 24.
“Austin Kaseberg played like the first-team all-league player here down the stretch,” Blevins said. “He has been a very good leader for us this year.”
For a team that won 21 games and had a top-10 ranking, the Huskies are looking to build on this accomplishment.
Max Martin, Kyle Fields, Justesen, Coles, Alex Fields, Treve Martin, Reese Blake, Anthony Lloyd and Luke Lawrence will put this year in the rearview mirror and stay motivated for the long haul.
“It’s not the ending we had hoped for, but I’m very proud of what this team accomplished this year and hope it is a springboard for the future,” the Husky coach said. “We have some potential for the future, but we need to continue to develop a culture of toughness if we are going to make it back to Baker City.”