The depth in PIL girls basketball could help more teams reach the state tournament this year.
Grant, Jefferson and Lincoln entered Thursday's games tied for the Portland Interscholastic League lead with 11-2 league records, with Franklin (9-4), Benson (8-5) and Wilson (6-7) battling for the fourth and final state playoff spot.
'The league seems to be deeper this year, and that's great to see,' says Grant coach Margaret Calvert, whose team beat Franklin for the second time this season on Tuesday, 55-45. 'I think that's going to help us later.'
Grant's first win over Franklin came in overtime.
The Generals have been dealing with emotional issues off the court this season. Two players have had deaths in their families; one was senior LaToya Hill, who missed two games.
'We've had some tough things to deal with this season,' Calvert says. 'But we seem to be handling that all right on the court.'
Hill, a likely first-team all-leaguer, scored 15 points in Tuesday's win over Franklin.
Getting blown out in most games is wearing on the Marshall Minutemen, who remained winless in league games after losing at Roosevelt 80-62 on Wednesday. But it's not enough to make them slow down on the court.
Many of Marshall's opponents hit 100 points, for a simple reason.
'We run a lot,' says senior forward Chris Borquez. 'It's embarrassing that we lose so many games by so many points, but we're playing as a team. Guys score more that way.'
The Minutemen see some help coming in the future with sophomore Aaron Hollingsworth, who is already 6-foot-9.
Wilson is hoping to bring a state title to the PIL for the first time Saturday when teams from across the state converge on Memorial Coliseum for the OSAA championships.
The Trojans have an excellent opportunity, too.
Wilson finished third in 2002 and second last year in the Class 4A Large Group division. And the 17-member squad finished first or second in all of its weekly competitions in December and January.
'We moved up from third to second last year,' says co-coach Chris Fazzolari, who is in her third year with the team. 'This year we're hoping for a title. The girls have been working extremely hard to achieve that.'
Wilson's cheerleaders rent space at a local gym for practices and train seven days a week, including an hour of tumbling training on Sundays.
Judges score teams' three-minute routines on stunting, tumbling, choreography, jumps, dance, voice, spacing/formations, showmanship and perfection of routine. A perfect score is 100. Wilson's top score this year is 85, which is 10 points higher than it scored at the state final last year.
Fazzolari, who coaches the Trojans with Gabe Testa, expects the top competition to come from Tualatin, which won the state title last year; Westview, which finished second two years ago; and Springfield, which finished second in the Small Group final last year.
Of the Portland metro area's 47 Class 4A schools, 26 will have teams at Saturday's event, although St. Mary's, Portland's all-girls school, won't be one of them. Cleveland, Grant and Marshall are other PIL schools entered.
Wilson's girls will continue their season in preparation for the USA Cheerleading championships, March 1 at Disneyland.
While Portland schools have not traditionally fared well in cheerleading, they have done well in the dance and drill state championship. Lincoln is a two-time defending state champion, and Cleveland has won four titles.