lady techsters girls

Benson, PIL begin quest for respect

Lady Techsters, Grant highlight holiday tournament
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

A standout cast of teams makes the inaugural PIL Holiday Classic one to focus on for girls basketball fans this week. And, maybe many years to come.

No. 3 South Medford, No. 5 Tigard, No. 6 Benson, No. 8 Sheldon and a pair of standout teams from Washington are among the eight-team field in the tournament, which begins Thursday at Franklin High School. Grant, which reached the Class 6A tournament semifinals last season, and Forest Grove are also scheduled to appear.

The tournament kicks off at 1:30 p.m. in the newly finished gymnasium, with games following at 3:15, 5:30 and 7:15.

A JV tournament will also be played during the three days, with games at the Marshall High campus.

The tournament is a huge test for Benson, which heads to an invitational tournament in Washington, D.C., the following week, and the largely overlooked PIL.

Benson next suits up Dec. 21 against No. 7 South Medford in the first round of the eight-team PIL Invitational at Franklin High School. The tournament has three other top-10 teams scheduled to play.

Following the three-day tournament, the Lady Techsters head to Washington, D.C., for an eight-team invitational, Dec. 28-30.

A team from the PIL won the state title three times in the first seven state tournaments, but last won in 1982. A team from the PIL - Benson - last played for the state title in 1991.

Grant reached the Class 6A semifinals last season before losing 36-34 to eventual champion Southridge, and finishing with the fifth-place trophy.

Benson reached the state playoffs last season but lost in the first round.

Lincoln, at No. 11, is the next-highest ranked team in the PIL so far this season, according to rankings compiled by the OSAA, with Grant at No. 20.

Forest Grove is No. 22.

Camas, and Kentridge, Wash., are scheduled to appear as well.

THURSDAY GAMES

Grant vs. Sheldon, 1:30 p.m.

Camas, Wash., vs. Tigard, 3:15 p.m.

South Medford vs. Benson, 5:15 p.m.

Kentridge, Wash., vs. Forest Grove, 7 p.m.

 

BENSON ROLLS IN OPENER

Dec. 13, 2017

After a solid, 17-point win over Jesuit in its opener, the Benson girls figured to beat neighborhood rival Jefferson easily, and it did, 77-29.

But, coach Eric Knox still had starters and fullcourt pressure on the floor for this second-ranked squad into the closing seconds ... and expectations, too.

With two minutes left, 6-foot sophomore forward Aujae Yoakum managed a steal at midcourt, and dribbled to the basket directly in front of Knox, who settled back into his chair and talked to her.

“All right, show me something,” said Knox, who played under legendary coach Ralph Miller at Oregon State in the golden days of the 1980s.

Yoakum showed him a fullspeed brick while being chased down from the side by a Jefferson defender.

Knox smiled off that line of dialogue following the game.

“We talked before the game about how to deal with our own, personal resistance,” Knox said of the game, which stood at 23-2 after the first quarter of the Portland Interscholastic League opener for both teams. “I’m trying to get the girls to shift into a different gear and experiment, get them to do something different.

“This season is very early, and the up-side for these kids is scary.”

Benson finished with four players in double figures for points, and is already in the habit of recording rebounds, assists, steals and blocks on the main scorebook for its girls, who feature just one senior.

Junior guard Makenzy Porter led the Lady Techsters with 18 points, while juniors Imani Harris, Tayler Lyday and Ciera Ellington finished with 17, 15 and 10 points, respectively.

Harris also had six rebounds, Lyday had seven assist, five steals and three rebounds, and Ellington had five rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals before leaving in the third quarter with a hamstring strain - and those were “soft” numbers tallied by the team’s very busy scorekeeper.

Knox’s idea of different could easily be called regular action for boys teams. During the game, the Lady Techsters twice ran an alley-oop, just without the dunk. But, it’s a rarely seen play in girls games. The team’s pressure defense turned into steals and lay-ups routinely, but also routinely turned into uncontested lay-ups for the Democrats (although they missed many more than they made).

Junior guard Fara Kelly led Jefferson, which dropped to 2-3, with 14 points.

Lyday, who stands 6-1, is already a target for Div. I college programs, and is likely to be a candidate for Oregon Player of the Year.

 

Benson next suits up Dec. 21 against No. 7 South Medford in the first round of the eight-team PIL Invitational at Franklin High School. The tournament has three other top-10 teams scheduled to play.

Following the three-day tournament, the Lady Techsters head to Washington, D.C., for an eight-team invitational, Dec. 28-30.

Benson, which reached the state playoffs last season but lost in the first round, has played for the state title just once - losing to Lakeridge in 1991. That’s also the last time a team from the PIL played for the state title.

A team from the PIL won the state title three times in the first seven state tournaments, but last won in 1982.

Grant reached the Class 6A semifinals last season before losing 36-34 to eventual champion Southridge, and finishing with the fifth-place trophy.

Lincoln, at No. 21, is the next-highest ranked team in the PIL so far this season.

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