Lady Demos hope to survive bumpy road as playoffs loom
Jefferson's girls aren't headed to the OSAA Class 4A state basketball playoffs 100 percent playoff-ready, but they're close. At least that's what senior Brittney Davis thinks. And coach Milt Adams agrees.
Jefferson started the season with hopes of contending for the state title and looked like it in mid-January with a win over Jesuit. The Democrats were cruising through the Portland Interscholastic League schedule with an unbeaten record when they lost to Grant and Benson during the final week of January.
'It's been kind of a bumpy year,' says Davis, who will play next season at the University of Minnesota. 'We were focused coming out of nonleague play, but we kind of lost our focus in league. We're getting that back.'
'We have a ways to go,' says Adams, who is pondering retirement. 'We can use the time (until Wednesday's second-round playoff game) to get ready.'
The state playoffs begin Monday with the first of three rounds that lead to the eight-team state tournament, March 4-6, at the Chiles Center.
The No. 4 teams from the PIL, the Three Rivers League and the Pacific-9 Conference will play host to first-round playoff games Monday.
Tuesday's triple-overtime thriller against Barlow might have been a first for longtime Central Catholic coach Steve Halligan.
'I can remember some double-overtime games, but no triple overtime ones,' Halligan says of Barlow's 85-83 win. 'If you didn't have anything invested in either team, it would have been a pretty good game to watch.'
Halligan says boys coaches are figuring out what girls coaches already know Ñ prepping for the state playoffs is not easy.
'When you don't know if you're going to finish second, third or fourth in your district, it's difficult to scout teams because you don't know who you might play,' he says. 'The big change this year is you have to scout league leaders, too.'
The state playoffs are being altered this season so that every team has to win at least two games to qualify for the eight-team tournament at McArthur Court in Eugene, March 11-13. Previously, district champions automatically advanced to a 16-team tournament.
Halligan says the change in playoff format is unpopular with coaches.
'I haven't talked to one coach who likes it,' he says. 'It's really going to cut down on underdogs advancing.'
Last year, Hillsboro, the fourth-place finisher from the Metro League, advanced to the state final.
Samantha Lang's bid to be added to the Class 4A tournament went as far as the Oregon School Activities Association, but the initial ruling by the Pacific-9 Conference stood, meaning her goal of being the first girl to win a state medal will be unfulfilled.
Her club coach, Bobo Umemoto, was unhappy with coaches in the conference, who apparently voted 5-0 early Saturday to disqualify Lang from the Pacific-9 district meet because she was jogging during the weigh-in. In 14 years of coaching, Umemoto says he's never heard of a wrestler, boy or girl, being disqualified for jogging during the weigh-in.
Lang, he says, thought there was a separate weigh-in for girls after the weigh-in for boys. She had been told that was the case the first day of the meet.
'The worst thing is that every coach I talk to says he voted for Sammy,' Umemoto says. 'But the OSAA told me the vote was 5-0 against her.
'I told her to go win the Olympic gold medal and show them that.'
Lang is a top contender to represent the United States in the Athens Olympic Games in August.
The David Douglas girls head into today's Class 4A state meet on the Oregon State campus with an outside shot at winning its first state championship in 19 years, but it will need help from McMinnville.
David Douglas senior Jenni Stratton is the favorite in the 200 and 500 freestyle races, and freshman Anna Humphrey is within the top six qualifying times in the 100 freestyle. The Scots also qualified all three relay teams for the meet, which is important because points scored for relay events are double that for individual events.
The Scots will know if they have a chance at the title based on their first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Their qualifying time at the Mount Hood Conference district meet put them 11th in the seeding for state. If they finish 11th, they would score four points. Sixth place is worth 18 points.
McMinnville is the defending champion and features senior Casey Bradshaw, a contender in the 100 and 200 freestyle races.
Summit, of Bend, is an overwhelming favorite to win the boys title. The Storm have all three relays in the top six seeds and have at least one contender in seven of the eight individual events.
The OSAA suspended officials from the Portland Wrestling Officials Association from working in the state wrestling tournament, held at Memorial Coliseum.
The PWOA was expecting to have seven officials at the tourney. It will have none, because its 55 members have so far refused to join the Oregon Athletic Officials Association. Rex Stratton, PWOA commissioner, says his group fears the OAOA will work to raise fees that officials charge to schools and that would lead to schools cutting athletics. 'We're not officials for the money,' Stratton says. Wrestling officials are paid $40 per dual meet, he says. Brad Garrett, an assistant executive director with the OSAA, says the OSAA wants the officials to join the OAOA because it's much easier to deal with one organization.