Spudders boys basketball go from underdogs to second place in league


The Ridgefield boys basketball team is changing people’s minds about the Spudders this season as the once underdogs are now sitting in second place in the 2A Greater St. Helens League.

The Spudders find themselves behind Mark Morris High School of Longview in the league standings. Their key rematch with Mark Morris slated for Friday, Jan. 12, was rescheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 20 due to the threat of inclement weather. Ridgefield lost its first meeting with Mark Morris the first week of December.

“Our team is playing really well together, and I’m just excited to see where that takes us,” senior guard Colten Castro said. “Coming into the season, we were underdogs. We weren’t expected to be where we’re at. … You know, we’re small, but it’s all about heart for us, and we’re just trying to prove a lot of people wrong.”

Castro is coming off of a short junior season when needed ACL surgery ended his season, after playing through a partial tear.

“It’s good to be back healthy knowing that I have no problem in my knee or anything,” Castro said. “And it’s good to be back on the team, you know, a very enjoyable team to be around, and it’s just good to help as much as I can.”

Castro’s bond with his head coach Jason Buffum since freshman year has turned into his favorite part of this senior season as Castro believes Buffum’s coaching style fits how he plays. Buffum praised Castro for his efforts this season. Buffum said Castro contributes a lot to the Spudders and gives the team another scoring presence.

“It’s nice to see kids get a chance to play [after] you have an injury like that. You never know when you can come back or how long it’s going to take or what it’s going to look like when you come back,” Buffum said. “He’s had some adverse situations in his life, and this was just another one to kind of jump through the hoops of life to bounce back, and he’s done a pretty good job doing it. I’m hoping that the rest of the year is a good, successful season for him.”

Returning first team all league honoree Cole Chester has provided a spark the Spudders need this season, as well. Chester continues to be a high-impact player on offense for his senior campaign. The 6-foot, 2-inch guard racked up 28 points in the Spudders’ 56-39 win against Fort Vancouver High School on Wednesday, Jan. 9.

“I think every night Chester is seeing the opponents’ best defender, and most teams are trying to take him out of rhythm and be extra physical with him, which is making it tough for him to get looks in some games,” Buffum said.

Chester said he maintains his confidence regardless of what the defense presents.

“[If] I’m not getting the ball as much or I’m missing shots that are contested I just have to make sure I stay out of my head,” Chester said.

As the regular season begins to wrap up, the Spudders have a heavy slate of key matchups.

“We have a favorable schedule for the second half of the league as far as home and away matchups,” Buffum said. “We have to try to get healthy and then have a stretch to maybe fight for that two-three spot [in standings].”

Weather dependent, Ridgefield was slated to play a home match with the Hockinson Hawks on Tuesday, Jan. 16. Results were not available at press time. At 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 18, Ridgefield hosts Washougal.