League misses its shot at state
Four boys teams in PIL lose on their way to tournament
Can it be true Ñ a Class 4A boys basketball state tournament without inner city Portland represented?
It's going to happen this weekend in Eugene, because the four playoff teams from the Portland Interscholastic League all lost on the way to the eight-team tournament.
The biggest loss was at Jefferson, where the PIL champion Demos fell to Sunset 68-66 on Saturday. Senior swingman Sherrard Watson tossed in a 25-foot shot with five seconds left to put the Apollos into Thursday's quarterfinals against upstart Lake Oswego.
'I'm extremely happy for my team and our fans,' Watson says. 'We showed a lot of heart, that you have to play hard no matter what the score is, like we did today.'
Sunset rallied from a 49-38 deficit in the third quarter behind Watson, who scored a game-high 24 points, and junior Brian Peterson, who scored 18.
Senior guard Cedric Burton scored 19 points to lead Jefferson, which also got 18 points from junior forward Brian Morris.
Sunset and Jesuit, who tied for first place in the Metro League, and Lake Oswego and Oregon City will represent the Portland area at the state tourney. South Salem, South Eugene, South Medford and defending champion Redmond also qualified. Redmond beat Grant 58-48 Saturday.
Thursday's quarterfinal schedule: South Eugene vs. Oregon City, 1:30 p.m.; South Salem vs. Sunset, 3:15 p.m.; South Medford vs. Redmond, 6:30 p.m.; Lake Oswego vs. Jesuit, 8:15 p.m.
More boys hoops
Jefferson senior Anthony Atherton went from the Jefferson gym to the girls championship game Saturday night Ñ part of the healing process after the Demo boys' loss to Sunset.
'Sometimes, basketball isn't just a game,' Atherton says. 'It's like a way of life. I know that's how it is for me.
'So when we lose, it's like a death in the family.'
Atherton says the team's youth was a problem for him until he talked with Jefferson alum Michael Lee, who is now at Kansas.
'I talked to him before the Lincoln game (Feb. 25),' Atherton says. 'I told him I didn't think the other, younger guys wanted it Ñ wanted to win Ñ as badly as I did.
'He said you can't go into a game thinking you're not prepared. Instead, you have to be the guy that prepares them. I know that helped me. I talked with (Thomas Gardner, who is now at Missouri) and he helped me understand you can't get upset about little things like losing. There's a bigger thing at work.
'We lost, but that's just a bump in the road for this team. The guys from this year grew so much; they're definitely going to be back next season. Brian Morris, Markhuri Sanders-Frison, Lathen Wallace, all those guys made great strides as players and as teammates, and that's real growth.
'That's why it hurts so much that we lost.'
Atherton, a 6-3 guard, hopes to land at a Division I school as a scholarship player. He plans to study child psychology.
Oregon City wore warm-up shirts with 10-4 on the back, which might have been the team's league record at some point in the mid-1980s. It actually represented 10 state titles, four of which are consecutive.
The Pioneers accomplished those feats at the Chiles Center on Saturday, although not without some drama.
Lakeridge, with standout junior Jillian Harmon leading the way, led the Pios 37-32 in the third quarter before Oregon City scored 15 unanswered points and went on to win 59-46 before 2,481 fans.
'I feel great having been part of four in a row,' Oregon City senior Kristen Forristall says. 'And it feels better when (the championship game) is closer. That makes this game more special.'
Oregon City won last year's final 77-49 over Jesuit and won the previous two years by an average of 16.5 points.
Forristall was one of three Pioneers on the all-tournament first team, voted there along with senior teammates Jackie Hollands and Jessica Richter. Oregon City will graduate seven seniors from this team, but Forristall is hopeful the younger players will repeat again.
'They're a little young, but that will change in summer,' she says. 'I think they'll be able to win next year.'
Lakeridge, Sheldon and perhaps even Jefferson played like potential contenders next season. The Pacers will return Harmon, the likely player of the year for a second straight season, and Sheldon will feature athletic 6-1 Steena Chandler and 5-7 guard Keri Bellotti. Both teams graduate just one senior each. Jefferson graduates senior Brittney Davis to the University of Minnesota but returns all-PIL pick Simone Jordan and a promising group of forwards in 5-9 junior Malloree Roberts, who moved up from the junior varsity in midseason, and 5-11 sophomore Channell Miller.
'I want to get back here,' Jordan says of the tourney and the Chiles Center. 'I like the bigger court. You can do more on it.'
Lincoln coach Velaida Harris watched the final with brooding eyes, too. The Cardinals, who return junior forward Hannah Oken-Berg and sophomore guard Lauren Greif, were one win away from the tournament this year.
'We can get here and win,' Harris says. 'We see ourselves being a lot like Lakeridge.'