Suzanne Doleac might be the only senior on the Central Catholic girls basketball team, but she definitely feels like her teammates share her ambition for the season.
The Rams (12-1 Mount Hood Conference, 17-3 overall) have eight juniors, so they could be excused if they looked at next season as their best chance at state.
Doleac says she's happy that's not the case, especially after the Rams beat Sandy 58-48 in a key Mount Hood game Tuesday night.
'I've never played on a better team,' says Doleac, a 6-foot center. 'Everyone is working together great, and we all want to win for each other. We only had one senior last year, too, so we have some experience with this.
'We knew this game was basically for the conference title, so we were ready.'
Sandy won the first meeting between the teams 48-47 a month ago. In the rematch, the teams dueled fiercely until just before halftime, when junior Annie McIntyre hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Rams a 27-25 lead. That basket started an 18-6 run that gave the Rams a 42-31 lead early in the fourth quarter.
McIntyre finished with a game-high 21 points, including four 3-pointers.
Winning the Mount Hood would put the Rams in a favorable state playoff bracket. The top team they might have to face in the first two rounds would be the No. 2 team from the Pacific 9 Conference.
Sandy (11-2, 18-3), which has a standout player in 6-foot center Sammy Smith, seems capable of reaching the state tourney, too, although as the No. 2 team from the Mount Hood its road would be significantly more difficult. Its first playoff game would be against the No. 3 team from the Three Rivers League, probably Lakeridge.
Lincoln recovered from its one-point loss to Cleveland on Monday with a 48-point win over Marshall on Tuesday. The Techmen play at Wilson tonight in a key game within the Portland Interscholastic League standings.
Lincoln and Wilson are fighting with Benson for a state playoff spot behind Jefferson and Grant, which have pulled away as the top two teams.
Junior Austin Hodges says Lincoln is doing fine despite the pressure of trying to repeat the outcome of last season, when the Cardinals won the PIL title for the first time in 39 years.
'We have a lot of pretty high expectations because of what happened last year,' Hodges says. 'We're taking one game at a time, trying not to let that bother us too much. We still think we can beat anyone in the state when we play well.'
Cleveland swim coach Linda Jeo Zerba disputes Tuesday's PrepWatch account of the PIL swim meet, in which a Wilson girls relay team was disqualified for a 'paperwork' error. Zerba says one Wilson swimmer did swim in five races by not competing in the same two relays in the finals on Saturday as she had in the preliminaries on Friday. The paperwork was beside the point, Zerba adds. 'Cleveland won because it had more heart and depth,' Zerba says. 'Not because Wilson cheated.'
Jefferson senior Tracy Harrell expects to attend Arizona Western Community College and hopes to transfer to Oregon after two seasons of football, but first he has a spring of track ahead. Harrell says the Demos, who won the boys 4x100-meter relay state title last year, could be more than just an event contender this season, if they can get motivated. 'One of our guys isn't too excited about the season, so we're stuck on that right now,' Harrell says. 'But we think we could be really good; we might have a shot at the team title.' Harrell plans to run the 100, 200 and the relays. T.R. Smith, a football recruit for Oregon, plans to run the 200 and the short relay. Last year, Sandy won the Class 4A team title with 59 points.