Former St. Mary's coach lands post at South Salem

Victor Matoush knows he's stepping into a good situation.

Matoush, the former St. Mary's High girls basketball coach, has been hired for the same position at South Salem High.

In the two weeks since he found out he had the job, he has already started working with the players in summer league play.

He's been so busy, Matoush hasn't had time to return to Medford to get his possessions.

"It's a dream come true," Matoush said. "It's a great situation for me. The girls are phenomenal. Very, very exciting to work with. There's a group of sophomores-to-be who have just finished an undefeated season at the freshman level.

"I'm getting to know the girls as we go. Since I've been here last Tuesday, we've had 20 games already between my varsity and my JV, and my eighth-graders are playing at the freshman level."

Matoush coached St. Mary's, a 2A school, the past three years. St. Mary's went from the bottom of its league to fourth place in the Southern Cascade last season and went 10-14 overall.

Before that Matoush, 40, coached 10 years in AAU in the Medford area. The Ashland native played at Southern Oregon in college.

He takes over for Jon Ballantyne, who spent six years as South Salem's coach. In those six years, the Saxons made the state playoffs five times.

The Saxons placed third in the Central Valley Conference last season and return starting seniors Traci Thompson and Shannon August, sophomore Alexa Peterson and 10 players with varsity experience.

"I'm very excited to get out there," Matoush said. "But the girls we have, these are the toughest girls I've ever had in my life.

"Every single time one of those girls got knocked to the floor, they popped right up like it was nothing."

South Salem was the last team from the Salem-Keizer school district to reach the state tournament, that coming in 1996 with Mike Stortz as the head coach.

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