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Spartans enter state tournaments as favorites.

Byline: Steve Mims The Register-Guard

Publicly, Marist's boys basketball team entered the season with the goal of winning the Sky-Em League championship.

The players and coaches, however, were also aiming to get through the league unbeaten for the first time in school history.

"It was one of those unspoken goals," Marist coach Corey Anderson said. "We knew we had the opportunity to go undefeated, but we had to fight history because no Marist boys team had done that before."

Marist was able to accomplish the feat, running through the league with a 14-0 mark.

"We talked about winning the league, but to go unbeaten would be even better," senior forward Kevin Harrison said. "It was a huge thing to go through the Sky-Em unbeaten. Not many teams can do it."

The Marist girls also went undefeated, although this season marked the seventh straight without a Sky-Em loss for the girls.

Both the Marist boys and girls are ranked No. 1 in the state entering the Class 3A tournaments, which begin today at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.

Marist has a chance to become the third school to win the 3A boys and girls titles in the same season. Stayton, which accomplished the feat in 1995, was the last to do it.

The Marist girls open the tournament against North Valley at 6:30 this evening. The boys play La Salle at 8 a.m. Wednesday.

Marist's boys still have some remnants left from the team that won the state title two years ago, including Harrison, a 6-foot-8 senior who has committed to play at Seattle University next year. He was a second-team all-league selection this year.

Harrison, who averages 14.8 points and a team-best 6.3 rebounds per game, has played varsity since his freshman year. In each of the past two years, he was a first-team all-tournament selection at the state tournament.

"Over a four-year period, Kevin is probably the best player Marist has seen," Anderson said. "He does it with his scoring ability on the perimeter and inside."

Six-foot-eight junior Ryan Coldren was a unanimous first-team all-league selection after averaging 16.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per game for Marist (23-1), which has won 21 straight games.

Junior point guard Tyler Coleman averages 9.3 points, 3.3 assists and 2.6 steals per game. In a voting oddity, Coleman was selected as the Sky-Em most valuable player despite being a second-team all-league selection.

"Tyler Coleman makes everything go," Anderson said. "He is a big-game player."

Marist finished third in the Sky-Em League and lost a total of nine games two years ago before it surprised everyone by winning the state title. This year, Marist enters as the unanimous No. 1 team in the coaches' poll.

"The nice thing is that two years ago we were probably ranked 17th out of 16 teams in the tournament when we won," Anderson said. "We have enough kids who were in our program then that they know they have to go in focused this week, or there could be another Marist waiting to do the same thing this year."

Marist lost to eventual champion Philomath in the second round last year and went on to place seventh.

"We know anyone can come out and beat us. We have to play together like we did all year," Harrison said. "The No. 1 ranking is nice, but it doesn't affect the way we look at ourselves."

The Marist girls, who are making their 26th straight trip to state, are always among the top contenders entering the tournament.

Since coach Terry Lande was hired 10 years ago, Marist has not finished lower than fourth place at state. The Spartans have three state titles and a tournament record of 30-6 under Lande.

"I think oftentimes you need the stars to line up correctly to win," Lande said. "You have to avoid injuries and foul trouble because those things often knock the best team out. It is a matter of getting on a roll for four or five days. Last year that was what happened to Wilsonville. I don't think they were the best team going into the tourney, but at the tourney they were the best team in the state."

The Spartans (21-3) have won 15 straight games since back-to-back losses to Jesuit, which reached the Class 4A title game, and Beaverton.

Marist has faced adversity this season in the form of season-ending injuries to Alyson Lande and Alex Murphy.

The Spartans had a two-week break between games following the regular season, and Lande gave the girls five days away from the court.

"Our quickness and speed slowed down as the season went on, and that has been better since our layoff," Lande said. "When you go on and on for two months you wear down in January and February, in practice as much as games. Now we are sharper."

Senior point guard Stephanie Singer was named league player of the year. Senior Christine Paiement, who moved from post to wing following Marist's injuries, joined Singer as a first-team all-league selection. Heidi Hoffman was a second-team selection, while Lande and Sarah Long received honorable mention.


Sky-Em League MVP Tyler Coleman of Marist is guarded by Siuslaw's Ben Voogd, a first-team all-league selection. Wayne Eastburn / The Register-Guard Marist's Stephanie Singer led the Sky-Em in scoring. The Register-Guard SPORTS Tuesday, March 11, 2003
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Title Annotation:Marist's boys and girls teams are both ranked No. 1 in Class 3A; Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Mar 11, 2003
Previous Article:Axemen keep on rolling after sub-tournament survival.
Next Article:BRIEFLY.

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