Best of 2016-17: Gervais Cougars
The Gervais boys soccer program made sure Cougar athletics started out on a memorable note this year.
Led by Player of the Year Alejandro Isiordia, the Cougars ripped through their conference schedule, going 10-2 in league play to win the program's first league title since 2008.
Gervais went unbeaten in eight games at home this season, and went undefeated in the month of October to finish No. 6 in the final OSAA rankings.
The Cougars followed with an 8-4 first-round victory over Rogue River that featured a five-goal performance from senior Jacob Lundin to send Gervais to the state quarterfinals for the first time in a decade.
The Gervais girls basketball program shocked the PacWest Conference in February with a miraculous buzzer-beating win over the Scio Loggers.
The Cougars finished just 4-8 in league play during the winter season, but survived two elimination games in the PacWest tournament to advance to the 3A state tournament.
Gervais beat the hosting Colton Vikings 37-28 to earn a game against the Scio Loggers for the third playoff berth awarded to the PacWest.
The two programs battled for 32 tense minutes before the Cougars turned to the unlikeliest of heroes in the team's final possession.
With the game tied at 24-24, the team's youngest player — freshman forward Isabelle Vasquez — received a pass from teammate Daisy Correa and banked in a layup with three seconds left to lift the Cougars over the Loggers and send the program to the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
Gervais senior Peter McKinley capped his final season with the Cougar wrestling program by winning the district title in the 195-pound bracket in February.
A three-year member of the wrestling program, McKinley transformed himself from an unskilled sophomore who went 1-14 his first year with the program to a two-time state tournament qualifier.
McKinley's efforts garnered national attention when he won the MaxPreps Athlete of the Month award in February, becoming the first athlete in the state of Oregon to do so.