Boys Basketball

Rams ease by Raiders as season picks up

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."




Montverde earns its stripes

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.






Jefferson rebounds with assertive win

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.






Jefferson goes about business at Benson, 80-49

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.

Jordan Ewell led Benson with 13 points.



Jesuit hits another speed bump

Lake Oswego holds the defending state champs to a season low in repeat victory
Jan. 8, 2013 / By Cliff Pfenning / Oregonsports Journal

It happened again to the Jesuit Crusaders - an offensive blowout.

Blowout as in a tire getting thrashed on the highway causing a trip to the emergency lane.

Fortunately for the four-time defending state champions, the second loss to Lake Oswego in 11 days is plenty early in the season not to warrant any hearty concern.

But, Lake Oswego seems to have Jesuit's number this season.

Calvin Hermanson, who sat out the Lakers' game Friday with an injured ankle, returned and scored a game-high 14 points and Lake Oswego ended the game on an 8-1 run to beat Jesuit 46-38 in a non-league boys basketball game at Jesuit Tuesday night.

The match-up between the top two teams in Class 6A was a rematch of the Les Schwab Invitational from Dec. 29, which the Lakers won, as well as a rematch of the 2012 state championship, which the Crusaders won.

Lake Oswego held Jesuit to its previous season low of 43 in the LSI championship, a total that was 15 points lower than any of their previous 10 games in the season - all wins.

Trailing 32-23, the Crusaders rallied in the fourth quarter to within 38-37, but missed several inside shots and four of five three throws in the closing moments.

Khyan Rayner led Jesuit, which plays at No. 5 Central Catholic Friday, with 11 points.


LO finds a new star in win over Rams

Without Calvin Hermanson, Connor Griffin steps up in 59-45 victory
Jan. 4, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

LAKE OSWEGO - Playing without star senior Calvin Hermanson, Lake Oswego gave up the first nine points to Central Catholic Friday night before showing off it's more than just a one-player boys basketball team.

The top-ranked Lakers, still feeling the good vibes of having beaten rival Jesuit in the final of the Les Schwab Invitational six days earlier, suffered a blow Thursday when Hermanson, the Gatorade State Player of the Year as a junior, rolled his right ankle in practice Thursday. With Hermanson on the bench as a precaution, the Lakers rallied behind senior Connor Griffin and beat the fifth-ranked Rams 59-45 to improve to 13-0 on the season.

The win comes four days before a rematch with Jesuit at Jesuit. The Crusaders were represented by coach Gene Potter at Friday's game, which he recorded.

"This game definitely shows our team has depth," said Griffin, a 6-foot-5 post who scored a game-high 16 points. "Add it to our toughness and we feel pretty good about ourselves."

Senior point guard Christian McDonald added 12 points for the Lakers, who shot 21 free throws, making 16.

The Rams, who lost to LO 54-43 in the LSI, opened the game with considerably more energy than the Lakers on the way to their 9-0 lead, but Griffin scored six straight points for the Lakers as they cut the lead to 13-8 by the end of the quarter. In the second quarter, Lake Oswego ran its scoring run to 21-7 and they maintained control of the game thereafter.

Tuesday's game features the top teams in Class 6A, who met for the state title in March, which Jesuit won to run its string of consecutive state titles to four despite Hermanson averaging 28 points per game in the tournament. He has since signed to play at St. Mary's of the West Coast Conference.

Central Catholic dropped to 8-3, and plays host to Jesuit on Friday. The Rams got 12 points from Mitch Franz and 11 from Deonte Strickland.



Jesuit returns to LSI title game

Crusaders beat Gonzaga Prep from Washington, D.C., will face Lake Oswego
Dec. 28, 2012

Jesuit kept playing itself into the role of undisputed favorite to win a fifth straight Class 6A boys basketball state title with a 61-57 victory over Gonzaga Prep from Washington, D.C., in the semifinals of the Les Schwab Invitational Friday night at Liberty High School.

The win comes one night after the Crusaders beat Archbishop Mitty of San Jose, Calif., in overtime, and sets up a rematch of the state title game from last year when they beat Lake Oswego for their fourth-straight title.

Lake Oswego beat Neumann-Goretti High of Philadelphia in its semifinal.



HILLSBORO - Khyan Rayner scored a game-high 32 points, including six consecutive free throws in overtime, as Jesuit beat Archbishop Mitty 76-72 in the feature game of the second day at the Les Schwab Invitational Thursday at Liberty High School.

Jesuit overcame the Monarchs and 6-foot-8 Aaron Gordon, who had 43 points in a opening-round win against Southridge, in part through free-throw shooting as Gordon went just 3 of 14 from the line.

Gordon, double-team throughout the game, finished with just 17 points. The Crusaders were able to keep him from scoring in the fourth quarter, which ended with the teams tied at 63.

In the tournament's other quarterfinals, Gonzaga Prep of Washington, D.C., beat Century 78-64, Lake Oswego beat Central Catholic 54-43 and Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia beat West Linn 96-74.



Gordon shows his bigtime game

Archbishop Mitty's 6-8 forward lights up for 43 points in LSI opener
Dec. 26, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

If it weren't for a few missed dunks, Aaron Gordon might have set a single-game scoring record at the Les Schwab Invitational Wednesday night at Liberty High.

Instead, he settled for 43 points as the Archbishop Mitty High from San Jose, Calif., beat Southridge of Beaverton 80-70 in boys basketball action.

Gordon, who is 6-foot-8 and among the best high school players in the nation, made 20 of 25 shots from the field, with four of the misses coming on attempted dunks, to lead the Monarchs to the quarterfinals of the 16-team holiday tournament, where they will face four-time defending Class 6A state champion Jesuit.

The Crusaders beat Sheldon 77-39 in their opener to improve to 8-0 on the season.

The tournament record is 46 points, according to tournament organizers.

"We got a chance to watch them play," Monarchs' coach Tim Kennedy said. "We don't expect Aaron to get so many good looks at the basket like he did today."

Southridge got 21 points from A.J. Monterrosi in the loss, which dropped it to 4-4.

The Skyhawks represented themselves well throughout the game inspite of Gordon's huge size advantage. Scrappy play had the team within 56-54 late in the third quarter before a pair of turnovers turned into easy baskets for the Monarchs, who scored the first eight points of the third qaurter to take a 68-54 lead.

Gordon finished with 15 rebounds as well.

"We played okay today," said Gordon, who has publicly narrowed his college choices to Washington, Arizona and Kentucky, "but we gave up way too many points. We have to do a lot better job on defense."

On the day, the three out-of-state teams all won. Gonzaga Prep of Washington, D.C., beat Clackamas 90-51, and Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia, beat Tigard. In other games, Century beat Columbia River of Vancouver, 58-47, Central Catholic beat Jefferson 84-67, West Linn beat Sprague 78-59 and Lake Oswego beat Sunset, 59-39.

In the quarterfinals, Jesuit and Archbishop Mitty meet at 5:30 p.m., following Century's battle with Gonzaga Prep at 4 p.m. Lake Oswego meets Central Catholic at 7 and West Linn faces Neumann-Goretti at 8:30 p.m.






Jesuit repeats for a third time

Crusaders create first boys 4Peat with win over Lake Oswego
March 10, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

A year after establishing a win at one level, the Jesuit Crusaders established one for all levels with a 52-42 win over Lake Oswego in the Class 6A boys basketball final at the Rose Garden Saturday.

Last year, the Crusaders became the first school to win three-straight titles at the large-school classification, and matched three-peats by several other schools at lower classifications, including Jefferson's run at Class 5A (2008-10).

No school in Oregon had ever won four straight titles until Saturday.

With speedy guards Khyan Rayner and Xavier Coleman combining for 30 points, and suffocating defense holding LO's star junior Calvin Hermanson to a respectable 20 points, the Crusaders capped off another memorable season and won the school's sixth title since 1999 - all of them under coach Gene Potter.


CLASS 5A - Corvallis repeats

A night after title rematch in the semifinals, Corvallis defended its 2011 title with a 63-51 win over stubborn Milwaukie at Matthew Knight Arena.

Henry Parker and Jake Ehlers both scored 19 points to lead the Spartans, who finished at 24-4.

Milwaukie trailed just 34-32 midway through the third quarter, but couldn't sustain the momentum that had carried it through upsets the previous two days.


CLASS 4A - Central earns another title

Tanner Omlid scored on a lay-up with five seconds left to propel Central to a 49-47 win over defending champion Phoenix at Gill Coliseum.

Omlid, who led all scorers with 17 points, took a pass from Brendan Cutsforth on the way to the basket as the Panthers won for the second time in three years.



Jesuit returns to state final to face Lakers

Crusaders' defense sparks 47-31 win, Lake Oswego beats rival West Linn
March 9, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

Top-ranked Jesuit played its way into the Class 6A boys basketball state final for the fourth straight year with a 47-31 win over North Medford Friday at the Rose Garden.

There, they'll face Lake Oswego, which will play in the final for the first time since the Kevin Love era ended in 2007.

Lake Oswego, which won the state football title in fall, beat Three Rivers League rival West Linn in its semifinal.

Saturday's final is a rematch of the 2005 final that featured Love as a sophomore. Jesuit won.

In its semifinal, Jesuit The Crusaders forced 22 turnovers and held the Black Tornado to just 11 points in the first half on the way to the win.

Khyan Rayner scored 22 points for Jesuit, which has won the title the past three seasons.

North Medford will play for third place Saturday for the second straight year in a rematch of a quarterfinal game from last season, when it beat the Lions.

Lake Oswego scored the first seven points of its game and led much of the game by double digits behind a stellar performance from junior forward Calvin Hermanson, who scored 32 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field. He made all four of this three-point attempts.


CLASS 5A - Corvallis, Milwaukie return

Corvallis broke free of a tight game in the fourth quarter, outscoring Benson 32-18 for a 59-45 win in a finals rematch from last season.

The Spartans, who beat Benson in double overtime last year, made 32 of 42 free-throw attempts in the game, including all eight from forward Nolan Hansen.

Corvallis will play Milwaukie, which played into its first final in nearly 60 years with a 59-41 upset of Wilsonville, in the final at Matthew Knight Arena.

The Mustangs, who won the state title in 1954, got 23 points and nine rebounds from forward Keynan Middleton and made an incredible 60 percent of its shots - 24 of 39 - from the field. The hot shooting overcame a 17-3 edge in offensive rebounds for Wilsonville, which managed to shoot only 30 percent - 17 of 56 - from the floor.


CLASS 4A - Phoenix, Central meet again

Defending champion Phoenix and Central, which won the title two years ago, will face off in the championship game Saturday at Gill Coliseum.

Phoenix beat Sisters 74-55, while Central beat Seaside 40-26.





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