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Indians itching for improvement, first Class 4A play-in appearance since 2015

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Shaylan Smith, center, dribbles through a crossover drill in practice Tuesday, Nov. 21.SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - Lea Brodala is an all-Cowapa League guard.

The Indians can start their season fast with their first Seven-Mile War win in three years.

Scappoose, scheduled to host St. Helens at 7 p.m. Thursday, has split the last six meetings by a friendly 39-37 average score and can trend upward before they join the Lions in the Class 5A Northwest Oregon Conference in 2018.

"I anticipate seeing some new things from St. Helens," all-Cowapa League senior guard Lea Brodala said. "It's the first game of the year, and I imagine both teams have prepared and want to come out with the win."

The Tribe averages 11-13 overall and 4-6 Cowapa League records since 2013-14 in search of its first state championship, but has won eight combined games in the last two seasons after reaching the Class 4A play-in round in 2015.

"I'd expect [the Lions] to play aggressive: We're probably going to face a lot of pressing style defense," second-year Indians coach Joe Girres said. "However, this being the first game of the year and not having a scouting report, I'm only speculating ... I'm sure it will be a highly-contested game."

Shaylan Smith, an all-league junior forward, and senior guards Krystal Esterley and Kaylee Wegner (a transfer from St. Helens) join Brodala in leading roles.

"I am very excited for the opportunity to play with Kaylee Wegner this year," Esterley said. "She will make a great addition to the team and has already proven to make us as a team better altogether. I can't wait to see what she can do in a game."

Payton Fisher, Sierra Stafford, Belle Erhardt and Sara Mills (guards) and Emily Kopra (a forward) are juniors, and Maddie Templin, Allison Wills (guards) and Gaby Dague (a forward) are sophomores.

Girres, impressed with his Indians' basketball IQ, asks them what they will do to improve each week.

"I'm looking forward to all our new players and how much the team has already grown," Brodala said. "It's a new season, and already there has been so much improvement throughout."

Scappoose's home-and-away with state runner-up Banks and all-leaguers Brandon Begley (a Co-Coach of the Year), Sydney Gregg (a senior post) and all-state junior guard Aspen Slifka (a junior guard), set for Jan. 23 in Banks and Feb. 9 in Scappoose, highlights the home stretch.

"[I'm] looking forward to improvement from our entire program," Girres said. "We will be a more experienced team this year for varsity, and we look forward to our progression as we move ahead."

SEASON OUTLOOK: The Indians can improve and shoot up the league standings in a hurry as only Banks and Seaside's three all-leaguers (co-Coach of the Year Mike Hawes and senior guards Bryre Babbitt and Jetta Ideue) outnumber Scappoose's two.

SCAPPOOSE INDIANS

COACH: Joe Girres (Second year)

CLASSIFICATION: Class 4A, Cowapa League

2016-17 FINISH: 3-19 overall, 1-9 Cowapa League (Sixth in league, missed postseason)

RETURNING ALL-LEAGUERS: Lea Brodala, sr., G; Shaylan Smith, jr., G/F.

ROSTER

Lea Brodala, sr., G; Krystal Esterley, sr., G; Kaylee Wegner, sr., G/F; Payton Fisher, jr., G; Sierra Stafford, jr., G; Belle Erhardt, jr., G/F; Sara Mills, jr., G/F; Shaylan Smith, jr., G/F; Emily Kopra, jr., F; Maddie Templin, so., G; Allison Wills, so., G; Gaby Dague, so, F.

SCHEDULE

Nov. 30 St. Helens at Scappoose, 7 p.m.

Dec. 5 Scappoose at Madras, 6:30 p.m.

Dec. 8 Scappoose at North Marion, 7 p.m., in Aurora

Dec. 13 Scappoose at Corbett, 7 p.m.

Dec. 15 Estacada at Scappoose, 7 p.m.

Dec. 18 Nestucca at Scappoose, 7 p.m.

Dec. 19 Seton Catholic at Scappoose, 7 p.m.

Dec. 27-29 Scappoose at HIdden Valley Tournament, in Grants Pass

Jan. 2 Molalla at Scappoose, 7 p.m.

Jan. 5 Cascade at Scappoose, 5:30 p.m.

Jan. 9 Scappoose at Philomath, 7 p.m.

Jan. 12 Gladstone at Scappoose, 7 p.m.

Jan. 16 Scappoose at Seaside, 7:30 p.m. *

Jan. 19 Tillamook at Scappoose, 7:30 p.m. *

Jan. 23 Scappoose at Banks, 7:30 p.m. *

Jan. 26 Scappoose at Valley Catholic, 7:30 p.m., in Beaverton *

Jan. 30 Astoria at Scappoose, 7:30 p.m. *

Feb. 2 Seaside at Scappoose, 6 p.m. *

Feb. 6 Scappoose at Tillamook, 6 p.m. *

Feb. 9 Banks at Scappoose, 6 p.m. *

Feb. 13 Valley Catholic at Scappoose, 6 p.m. *

Feb. 15 Scappoose at Astoria, 6 p.m. *

* Cowapa League game

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