West Albany coach Craig Swanson said he’ll probably learn next season just how important Sam Siegner was to his program when it comes times to try to fill the void with everything she did.
Siegner was named to the 5A girls all-state first team for the third straight season, as voted on by the state’s coaches and announced by The Oregonian on Monday.
“It’s pretty flattering. It’s a great honor to be recognized,” said the 6-foot-3 Siegner, a senior forward who averaged 17 points and 11 rebounds this past season.
She helped the Bulldogs to three consecutive state tournament appearances, including a runner-up finish in 2011. West finished third at state this season with a 22-6 record.
“She makes things look ordinary,” Swanson said of Siegner, who has signed to play at Oregon State. “She’s transformed the mentality of the program. She’s worked hard to do what she had to do to be one of the best players in the state and the West Coast.”
Springfield junior post Mercedes Russell was selected player of the year after leading the Millers to a second straight state title. Russell and Siegner were joined on the first team by Hermiston senior guard Mallory Moss, Bend junior wing Mekayla Isaak and Willamette sophomore guard Lexi Bando.
Siegner could often be found staying after practice for nearly an hour to work on her game. That rubbed off on her teammates, in turn making the program better.
Siegner says her motivation to put in the extra time was to become a Division I basketball player and to just get better.
“I’m somewhat of a perfectionist,” she said.
Looking ahead to her collegiate career, Siegner said she’s working to “bulk up” and get stronger, which will mean weight work and eating more, she says.
As a player who has skills around the basket and can shoot well and get to the basket off the dribble, she made for a difficult defensive matchup.
“With her size and length ... it’s definitely a real tough task to work things. Everything went through her,” said Lebanon coach Mardy Benedict.
Benedict received his own recognition, being named the 5A girls coach of the year after leading the Warriors to the first state tournament and first 20-win season in school history.
“It’s a reflection of what the girls bought into starting at the end of last year and where we brought it to,” he said. “It’s been a joy to coach them.”
Benedict credits Doug Phillips, his lead assistant, as well as his players, who quickly learned and accepted their roles en route to a 23-5 record.
Lebanon senior McKenzi Benedict, Mardy’s daughter, was named to the all-state second team after averaging about 12 points, nine rebounds, four steals and two assists per game.
McKenzi was one of those players who accepted her role, moving from a shooting guard to a forward position.
“I think she found out a lot about herself,” Mardy Benedict said. “It’s fun to watch her continue to gain confidence and mature.”