Knights head back to 3A tourney with 49-46 win over Coquille
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
PORTLAND - The De La Salle North Catholic basketball program might not have a dazzling on-campus arena, but it definitely has a home territory in the Class 3A hoop world at the Moore Street Salvation Army Gym. And, the Knights did what they needed to protect their home court Friday, and played their way back into the boys state tournament with a 49-46 victory over Coquille.
Sophomore Kadeem Nelson scored 15 points, senior Jordanos Lincoln scored 10 and senior Marquis Guntle added 10 points, including hitting all four of this free-throw attempts in the final 40 seconds to send the team back to the tournament in Coos Bay for the fifth consecutive year.
Junior Seth Waddington scored a game-high 17 points to lead the Red Devils, who lost to the Knights for the third time in four years in the tournament play-in game. Coquille has missed the tournament by one victory eight times in the past nine years, and has not been to the double-elimination tournament since 2003.
De La Salle improved to 20-5 on the season, and will play Amity in the quarterfinals Thursday at North Bend High School. Amity beat Colton 69-63 Friday to improve to 21-5.
Coquille finished at 19-7.
The Class 3A Tournament begins Wednesday with the girls quarterfinals, then picks up with the boys quarterfinals Thursday. The boys and girls championship games are set for Saturday at Marshfield High in Coos Bay.
De La Salle's quickness and physical play seemed to catch Coquille off-guard at the start of the game, and the Knights went up 9-0 before the Red Devils scored. Early in the second quarter the lead extended to 18-7, but junior guard Henry Scolari led the Coquille comeback by continually breaking the De La Salle fullcourt pressure. A series of lay-ups by senior forwards Noah Hyatt and senior Dustin Davis, and clutch jump shots from Waddington eventually turned into a 34-33 lead when Davis completed a three-point play with 2:16 left in the third quarter.
Coquille led 38-36 entering the fourth quarter, but quickly reached 10 team fouls and the Knights spent much of the fourth quarter at the free throw line. De La Salle outscored Coquille 13-8 in the final quarter, with nine of those points as free throws as the lead changed hands five times.
A pair of free throws by Scolari with 43 seconds left cut De La Salle's lead to 45-44, then after Guntle hit a pair of free throws, Hyatt scored after an offensive rebound to make the score 47-46. Guntle drew a quick foul and hit both shots with nine seconds left.
Coquille set up Waddington for a game-tying shot, but it missed and the Knights celebrated a return to the Southern Oregon Coast.
The Generals' offense doesn't quite click, but they beat Lincoln 61-50
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
PORTLAND - A season-low total of points in the first quarter might have been just what the Grant Generals needed as they head toward the state playoffs.
After putting up just six points in the first quarter and trailing by as many as 10 points in the half, Grant rallied behind solid defense and strong passing to overcome an inspired performance by Lincoln, 61-50, in a PIL boys basketball game Tuesday at Lincoln.
Grant got 15 points from junior Kelton Samore, and 14 points each from senior Noel Bangsberg and sophomore Aaron Deloney to improve to 14-8 overall and 12-3 in league play with one game left against Benson. The Generals are ranked No. 9 by the OSAA calculations, which would put them in position to play host to possibly two games in the state playoffs next week.
"I told them that's playoff basketball, at it's best for us," Grant coach Robert Key said of his post-game team meeting. "One of the best wins on the road for us all season."
Lincoln got 15 points from junior Bryce Sloan, but got outscored 22-6 in the fourth quarter and dropped to 13-8, 10-5 with its OSAA ranking at 16. At No. 16, the Cardinals would play host to a first-round playoff game.
Grant entered the game with the idea a win would boost its resume to a ranking of No. 8, with a key factor being its strength of schedule that includes top-ranked Jefferson twice as well as No. 2 West Linn twice. All four games were among its eight losses. At No. 9, they would only play host to the first-round game and play the second round at the 8th seed unless that team lost in the first round.
The resume boost looked shaky in the first eight minutes as the Generals missed lay-ups and an array of outside shots, scoring just six points and trailing 14-6 after one quarter. The team ramped up its offense to trail just 29-24 at halftime and finally got the lead at 37-36 on an offensive rebound by the 6-foot-9 Samore with 3:16 left in the third quarter.
Lincoln finished out the quarter with an 8-2 run and led 44-39 with eight minutes left. But, the Cardinals scored only one point in the first five minutes of the quarter and strong free-throw shooting by Deloney - who made nine of this 10 free throws, boosted the Generals to the win.
The post-Payton Pritchard Lions are still solid as tournament play nears
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com
In what would be a first for boys basketball in Oregon, West Linn high is on a path to win five consecutive titles as the state playoffs near.
The Lions rode standout Payton Pritchard to Class 6A titles the past four seasons, and are ranked No. 2 according to the OSAA.
Only Jesuit has won four-straight titles in boys basketball, ironically, winning those the four years prior to West Linn's run.
Standing in West Linn's way is North Portland power Jefferson, which has won five titles in the past nine seasons. All of them, though, have been at Class 5A. This season, Jefferson is ranked No. 1 having a win over West Linn, 90-77, under its belt. The Lions have won 12-straight games since that loss, Jan. 16.
Jefferson, 20-1, lost only to Gonzaga College of Washington, D.C., during the Les Schwab Invitational in December.
State playoffs begin for 6A, 5A and 4A teams Feb. 28 with the round of 32 for 6A teams. The state tournaments are set to begin March 8 at the Chiles Center for 6A, Gill Coliseum for 5A, and in Forest Grove for 4A.
The round of 16 begins for 3A, 2A and 1A schools on Friday with defending 3A champion Dayton is ranked No. 1 heading for a home game against St. Mary's of Medford. The 3A tournament plays out March 1-3 in Coos Bay, while the 2A tournament is at the Pendleton Convention Center, and 1A is at Baker High School.
The Class 1A tournament heads for its round of 16 play Friday after eight opening-round games Tuesday that sent winners to match-ups for the eight league champions.
Jefferson avenges its only PIL loss with a powerful 76-55 win at Lincoln
Feb. 10, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - The Jefferson High boys basketball team apparently got the message the Lincoln High team sent them Jan. 10. If the Democrats didn't play like they wanted to win the state title, they ran the risk of losing.
Tuesday, they showed off they don't plan on losing anytime soon.
Behind a dominating defensive performance led by senior center Isaiah Robinson's five blocked shots, and 24 points from senior point guard Kadeem Strickland, the Democrats ran over Lincoln, 76-55, avenging the 65-64 loss the Cardinals handed them in their first meeting.
The win was their ninth-straight by double-digits, and eighth-straight by at least 21 points. Jefferson improved to 15-4 overall, 12-1 in PIL play, a game ahead of the Cardinals in the race for the league title.
Jefferson dominated from the outset, turning a 7-3 lead into an 18-3 tsunami of offense and defense. Lincoln, tempered by the pass-first, shoot second mentality of teams that haven't tasted state glory, got overwhelmed into the fourth quarter, when Jefferson led 65-30. The Cardinals responded to reach the final score, but the PIL's hopes for playoff glory clearly rest with Jefferson. And, the Democrats know it.
Lincoln gears up for duel with Jefferson by beating Benson 56-43
Feb. 6, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - The ebb and flow of the high school boys basketball season showed itself in the second half of Lincoln's win over Benson Friday night as the Cardinals pulled out to a solid lead, extended it to a bigger lead, watched it dissolve then cruised to a 56-43 decision.
Lincoln led 35-29 at halftime, and 44-32 early in the fourth quarter before Benson rallied to within 44-41 with three minutes left. After a series of missed shots and turnovers by both teams, free throws eventuall pushed the host Cardinals to the win and a 10-1 record in the Portland Interscholastic League, 14-5 overall.
Sophomore guard Jonah Pemberton scored 17 points and junior Nic Wolf added 11 to lead Lincoln, which moved a half-game ahead of idle Jefferson in the race for the league title. The teams meet Tuesday at Lincoln.
"Our collective goal all season has been to win the league title," Wolf said. "Everyone knows Jefferson is the top team, and for us to win the league title we have to beat them. Having that win over them gives us a lot of confidence, but we know they remember that. It's going to be a big test."
Sophomore Will Lakayi led all scorers with 18 points for Benson, which dropped to 5-14 overall, 2-9. The Techmen have a week off before playing at Cleveland.
Lincoln's fluid season started off at 3-4 before a run of 11 wins in the past 12 games, including four in the past eight days. Within the stretch the Cardinals beat Jefferson 64-64 on a last-second three-point play by Pemberton.
Three days later they beat Madison 80-28, but a week after that they lost to Cleveland 66-48 showcasing the keys to their season - energy and focus. With a team of primarily role players, the Cardinals were possibly playing above their talent in beating Jefferson, which won the Class 5A state title last season and won a pair of games in the Les Schwab Invitational - one over currently third-ranked Jesuit.
"We definitely played with a lot of energy," Wolf said of the Jefferson win. "We matched their energy and their focus and that's been our biggest challenge this season - keeping that consistent energy and focus."
Jefferson responded to the loss, which came during a day of league games at Marshall High, Jan. 10, with seven consecutive wins by an average margin of 36 points. Jefferson is ranked sixth in the latest OSAA Rankings, while Lincoln is 14th. No other PIL team is ranked higher than 25th.
Lincoln has three state titles to its resume - 1919, '52 and '57, and was a state player from 2009-13 under coach David Adelman. But last season, the team fell to 27th in the state rankings under coach Sean Christensen. Lincoln last won the PIL title - the title with all the current schools playing at the same classification - in 2003.
Consistency leads No. 2 Central Catholic to 58-54 win over Reynolds
Jan. 9, 2015 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND - The minefield that is the drive toward the 2015 Class 6A boys basketball state championship showed itself off Friday night during Reynolds' game at Central Catholic.
The second-ranked Rams got 16 points from junior Austin Rose and another 11 from senior Xavier Hallinan on the way to a 58-54 victory over the visiting Raiders in a Mount Hood Conference game.
Central Catholic showed off its defensive intensity and overall strength to turn a one-point halftime deficit into a 14-point lead in just under six minutes during the third quarter, then held off a spirited rally to improve to 10-2 overall. The Rams, who narrowly missed upsetting the nation's top team in December, remain unbeaten against Oregon competition.
Senior Cody Starr scored 22 points to lead Reynolds, which struggled with turnovers throughout the second half and fell to 7-5 overall.
But, with a frontline that features 6-foot-10 senior Drew Eubanks and solid shooting by Starr, a 6-1 point guard, the Raiders are a potential title contender despite being ranked only No. 27 in the OSAA rankings.
The Raiders' five losses are by a combined 15 points.
"We feel like we're one of the teams in the running to win state, but there's a lot of good teams in the state," Central Catholc senior Deante Strickland said. "We know it's a wide open year for the state title."
Central Catholic gets another test Tuesday when it travels to David Dougas to play the top-ranked Scots, the state's lone unbeaten team. David Douglas beat Gresham 66-50 Friday.
Reynolds, which lost 54-51 to Oregon City on Tuessday, plays host to Centennial on Tuesday.
Central Catholic and Reynolds traded jabs throughout the first half, with the lead changing hands seven times before the Raiders settled on a 28-27 lead. The Rams took the lead for good on pair of short jump shots by senior Patrick Myers for a 31-28 lead. Reynolds got one point back on a free throw by Eubanks, who is headed for Oregon State to play basketball and baseball, but the Rams then scored on seven of their next eight possessions, stretching the lead to as much as 43-29 before the Raiders rallied behind Starr, who scored nine points in the final 1:55 of the third quarter.
Reynolds kept charging in to the fourth quarter and got within 49-45 on a three-pointer by junior Alec Burridge with six minutes still to play. But, the Raiders didn't get a shot off on their next six possessions and Central Catholic rebuilt the lead to 55-45. Starr connected on five straight free throws to tighten the score with 1:18 left, but the Rams made three of the four free throws they attempted thereafter and Reynolds ran out of time.
"We struggled with turnovers, that's something we have to get better with," Starr said. "We definitely think we're one of the teams that can win the state title."
The nation's top team handles West Linn, 70-58, in LSI title game
Dec. 30, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
HILLSBORO - The team everyone wanted to see showed itself off Tuesday night and claimed the Les Schwab Invitational boys basketball title with a 70-58 win over scrappy West Linn.
Montverde Academy, which is ranked No. 1 nationally, and has been named the national champion the past two seasons, got 29 points and 11 rebounds from senior Ben Simmons, and cruised to the victory before a packed gym at Liberty High School.
West Linn, Oregon's two-time defending state champion, got 24 points from junior Payton Pritchard and another 18 from senior Anthony Mathis, but couldn't over come a slow start that had the visitors from Florida open up a 13-point lead midway through the first quarter. The Lions got within eight points several times, but couldn't pull closer.
Montverde remained unbeaten, while West Linn dropped to 5-4 with all of its losses coming to out-of-state teams. The Lions close out their non-league schedule with a home game against Sheldon Saturday, which starts a five-game stretch of home games.
"We got a lot out of this tournament, a lot of confidence,"
"The whole tournament we made some big strides," West Linn coach Eric Viuhkola said. "The final wasn't how we want to play, wasn't West Linn basketball, but the effort and toughness was there. We got a lot of confidence here, and know we can play with anyone in the state. We're in the mix."
West Linn's resume of wins included a semifinal victory over Wheeler High, which entered as the No. 2 ranked team nationally. The Lions also beat Jefferson, the defending Class 5A champion, which now plays at 6A.
Simmons, a 6-foo-8 point guard, showed off the skill that have him on the way to Louisiana State as the nation's top prospect - and widely seen as an NBA draft pick in 2016. He hit 10-of-15 shots, most off dunks, or from under the basket, and had all four of the Eagles' blocks. Along with Simmons, Montverde featured two other front-line players 6-9 or taller.
Despite being overmatched on paper with just one player taller than 6-6, West Linn battled for rebounds and gave up just six total points to 7-foot senior Doral Moore and 6-9 freshman E.J. Montgomery. The Lions also forced Simmons into five turnovers.
The Eagles' size though, showed off when the Lions had the ball and were forced or content to take 3-point shots - 37 of their 57 field-goal attempts were 3-pointers. Pritchard attempted 15, but made six to help keep the team in the game.
Pritchard was named to the all-tournament team, along with Simmons, who was named MVP after averaging 28.3 points in four games.
The defending Class 5A champions beat Wilsonville, 52-42, in home opener
Dec. 12, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal
PORTLAND -The Jefferson Democrats may not have won a boys basketball state title at the large school level in 14 years, but it hasn't stopped coach Pat Strickland from thinking his Demos should be the team to beat this season. That's because they're the defending state champions. And, maybe that was at the Class 5A level from last season, but the regular season included the Demos beating eventual Class 6A champion West Linn.
So, with a little imagination, it's not hard to think Jefferson would have won at the 6A level - if only it had been allowed to play there.
This season, with all the Portland Interscholastic League schools returning to the large-school level for the first time since 2006, that won't be the case.
"It's our title until someone takes it away from us," Strickland said after Jefferson beat former 5A rival Wilsonville Friday night in their home opener. "We beat the best from 6A last year, so why wouldn't it be our title."
Jefferson led throughout Friday's game, although the Wildcats cut a 13-point deficit to four in the fourth quarter. Jefferson senior point guard Kadeem Strickland scored 22 points, including 18 on 3-point shots, to lead the way. Senior Gabe Garrett added nine for the Demos, who lost their season opener 60-57 to Jesuit last week.
The Demos have two weeks off to prepare for South Salem in the opening round of the 16-team Les Schwab Invitational, Dec. 27. A victory would put it up against the winner of the Grant vs. West Linn contest.
Wilsonville, which won a pair of games in Nevada last week, got 13 points from sophomore Zach Reichle and 12 points from junior Tyler Hieb. The Wildcats play at Lincoln Tuesday.
Jefferson may be one of two defending state champions active in Class 6A, but it is a decidedly different team. Last season, guard Silas Melson led the team on the way to being the Class 5A Player of the Year having already signed a letter-of-intent to play at Gonzaga. Melson has already earned playing time as a freshman.
Most, if not all, of the Demos' seniors this season are likely headed for NCAA Div. II schools, including Garrett, who has commited to St. Martin's of the Great Northwest Athletic Conference. The team's pedigree, won't stop virtually any Div. I school from watching a game and taking notes on the roster. Friday's game attracted Portland State head coach Tyler Geving as well as an assistant from the University of Portland. Kadeem Strickland did plenty to attract attention to his game.
"A team is always the point guards team, and that's my position, so this is my team," he said. "I'm going to have to step my game up whenever the team needs it and be ready to put it on my back and lead the way."
Jefferson features a core of flashy guards, all of whom were solid on defense keeping the Wildcats off balance. And, the team has 6-foot-10 center Isaiah Robinson to patrol the middle. The team has plenty of room to improve, too, before a playoff run begins - Robinson, for example, scored just five points - all on free throws. But, with a stronger offensive output from Robinson, and outside shooting from Strickland and Garrett Jefferson figures to be among the team to beat in March, if not THE team to beat.
Melson, Sanders combine for 55 points as top-rated Demos win easily
Jan. 25, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning / Oregonsports Journal
The stars were out to watch the Jefferson Democrats Friday night, and the top-ranked Class 5A boys basketball team didn't disappoint.
Led by 31 points by Silas Melson and 24 from Victor Sanders, the Demos ripped No. 8 Benson apart with a 48-20 run through the second and third quarters on the way to an 80-49 victory in a Portland Interscholastic League game at Benson.
The game brought out Oregon State and NBA great Gary Payton as well as University of Washington coach Lorenzo Romar for the inner-city rivalry that filled the Chiles Center twice a decade ago.
Benson owned the series the past two seasons while it challenged for a state title both years, but the Demos reclaimed the rivalry edge Friday.
"We've been down the last couple years, so we wanted to change that," Melson said. "I think we did."
Melson scored just five points in the first half, but outscored the Techmen 17-8 by himself in the third quarter. Melson's scoring run included a steal and breakaway dunk into the camera of a film crew that is cataloging the team's season for Nike's Jordan Brand.
Jefferson is one of only a handful of teams nationwide that are supported by the Jordan Brand. Having a pair of rookies in the NBA: Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross, got the program that kind of attention.