The Titans men’s basketball team entered the 2013-14 season with the deck stacked against them.
Not a single player returned from last year’s squad, and three Titans players suffered season-ending injuries before the season even started.
Freshman forwards Gage Ostanik and Orion Wright both missed extended time during the season, Ostanik with various injuries and Wright with the flu. Freshman Chris Goodloe also left the team midway through the season for personal reasons.
“Off the court, we faced a lot of adversity and injuries, and for the most part, we overcame it and were battling,” Lane head coach Bruce Chavka said. “Down the stretch in league was just tough for us.”
The Titans started their season by winning five of their first eight games, including wins over Spokane and Lower Columbia Community College, two teams that qualified for the NWAACC tournament.
Early in the season, Alex Sattley and Zach Kirschbaum, sophomores who transferred to Lane this year, established themselves as the Titans’ star players.
Sattley scored 29 points in Lane’s first game of the year against University of Puget Sound, and Kirschbaum followed up with a 17-point, 17-rebound performance versus Bellevue Community College the next day.
Chavka said Sattley is the most explosive athlete he has coached in his time at Lane, and that Kirschbaum was the “x-factor” for the Titans this season.
After a rough tournament in Weed, Calif., where the Titans lost three games in three days, they started off South Region play on a low note with a road loss to Clackamas Community College on Jan. 4.
The losing streak could have ended the Titans’ season, but they responded by picking up two of their biggest wins of the season over the next few weeks.
They pulled off a huge upset with a 73-68 win over Portland Community College, the eventual NWAACC champions, on Jan. 18.
Seven days later, they took down Chemeketa Community College, the top team in the South Region at the time.
“That was the high point, beating those two teams,“ Sattley said. “It was a great way to go into the second part of conference season.”
The Titans found themselves just one game out of playoffs contention with five games remaining, but a road loss to the last place Linn-Benton Community College Roadrunners sent the Titans’ season into a tailspin.
“That was kind of just demoralizing for us,” sophomore point guard Alec Breazeale said. “I think everybody just looked ahead of them. Nobody really thought that they had a chance to beat us.”
Following the loss to the Roadrunners, the Titans lost their remaining four games and finished the season in sixth place in the South Region, with an overall record of 12-16.
Sattley and Kirschbaum highlighted a Titans season that featured little to celebrate. Both were named to the March 9 NWAACC All-Star game in Lakewood, Wash., and both said they are planning to continue playing after Lane.
With both of his leading scorers, as well as Breazeale departing, Chavka is left with a roster of talented but relatively inconsistent players.
Freshman Dale Baker was named to the NWAACC South Region all-freshman team and is the Titans’ top returning scorer.
Freshman guards Dyrall Goods and Willy Malos both were steady this season, posting positive assist-to-turnover ratios.
Daemund McCants, a 6’6″ forward, showed flashes of brilliance down the strech. He posted two double-doubles, including a 15-point, 10-rebound performance on Feb. 15 against Portland.
The pieces are in place for the Titans to return to playoff form next season. However, they will need to find a scorer to fill the shoes of Sattley and Kirschbaum.