South Albany moves forward with big strides made

South Albany moves forward with big strides made

The South Albany girls basketball season ended Wednesday.

But it’s safe to assume the RedHawks are just getting started.

History was made in a big way in the last four months.

This year’s season produced the school’s third state playoff appearance, second postseason win, first state quarterfinal appearance and a program record 22 wins under first-year coach Marc Cordle.

“I think we’re going to be here the next three years, the next four years,” said All-South Conference freshman guard Taylor Donaldson, whose team fell 45-35 to Mid-Willamette foe Silverton in a OSAA 5A consolation semifinal to end the match. 22-6 season. “I trust all my teammates that we will go to work and be better than ever next season.”

South Albany freshman Taylor Donaldson (21) is a big part of the RedHawks’ future. She was a first-team all-conference selection this season.

Kylie Graham, Mid-Valley Media

A year after winning five games overall, this season included wins against 5A state playoff teams Corvallis, Lebanon, North Eugene, Silverton and Wilsonville, 6A playoff teams Liberty, McNary and Westview as well as Philomath and Cascade, of both 4A postseason teams.

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Karsen Angel, one of the RedHawks’ three seniors, said what he will remember most about the team is how close the players were and the bonds they formed.

“I’ve never bonded with a team like I did this year,” she said. “Usually there’s at least one point in time in the season and you start fighting, and we’ve never had that. We were literally like a family and they are all like my sisters. I’ll never forget how well we bonded together.”

South had not made the state playoffs since 2011 when Cordle took over the program last summer.

Karsen Angel was a senior captain for the RedHawks this season.

Kylie Graham, Mid-Valley Media

He said he had to talk his three seniors — Angel, Norah DeYoung and Ruby Shumaker — into coming out for the team. They didn’t know Cordle’s coaching style and were unsure if they wanted to play because of South’s previous struggles, he said.

Everything turned out fine.

“They were all the biggest leaders, the biggest supporters, and I know I asked at the first practice and was nervous,” Cordle said of the seniors. “They came in and embraced everything and kept everyone in check as well. That was the biggest part, getting the three of them to buy for all the new people coming in because they’ve been there so much longer than anyone else. It’s usually the other way around, juniors and seniors attract freshmen and sophomores.

“Karsen Angel was our captain, our leader, probably one of the best kids I’ve ever coached in my life. I can’t say enough about him.”

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The RedHawks took Mid-Willamette rival Crescent Valley to the final minutes Tuesday in a six-point loss in the quarterfinals.

On Wednesday, the RedHawks bounced back from a slow start for their second straight tournament game against another conference opponent.

The Silverton sophomore, who split two games with South during the regular season, jumped out to a 13-4 lead after one quarter and led by as many as 11 in the second. The Foxes were up 23-14 at halftime.

South went on an 8-0 run with the final two points of the second and the first six after the break with 3-pointers by Kaylee Cordle and Karsen Angel to close within three points.

Down five, headed to the fourth, the RedHawks got an Amelia Moss 3 to regain a one-point lead. But the Foxes scored the next five points and South got no closer than five from there.

South freshman Kaylee Cordle, the coach’s daughter and one of the top three starters along with Donaldson and Madeline Angel (Karsen’s sister), led the RedHawks with 13 points and seven rebounds. Karsen Angel added nine points and four rebounds and Ava Marshall five points and two assists.

Mid-Willamette Player of the Year Kyleigh Brown had 17 points and five rebounds for Silverton (21-6). The Foxes will play fourth-seeded Putnam in the fourth-place game at 9 a.m. Friday.

Karsen Angel said she is “excited” about the future of the program considering what was accomplished in the first year under Marc Cordle.

Cordle said he is excited to see what happens next given the progress that has been made and the foundation that is being built.

“I think we’re young and hungry right now, especially going oh and two on Gill,” the coach said. “We’re going to go to work in the offseason and get better and get ready for summer league and start to figure it all out and try to do a little bit more.”

Jesse Sowa is a sports reporter at the Albany Democrat-Herald and the Corvallis Gazette-Times. You can connect with him on Twitter: @JesseSowaGT.

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