Montana Walters garners tournament MVP honors
The Oregon City Pioneers demonstrated late last month that they are going to be a force to contend with in high school girls basketball next school year, as they won first place in the 64-team varsity division of the prestigious End Of The Oregon Trail River City Classic Basketball Tournament, held in Oregon City.
The Pioneers breezed through their bracket, winning five games by an average of 75-31, before defeating a veteran squad from Central Catholic 73-70 in the championship final.
"Central Catholic, us and South Medford will likely be the top three teams in the state [in Class 6A high school girls basketball next school year]," said Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf.
Central Catholic had four players who started for the Rams at the 2012 Class 6A State High School Tournament in its River City Classic lineup, including 6-4 post Kailee Johnson and 6-0 point guard Jordan Reynolds.
"They're both ranked in ISPN's top 60 in the nation for the Class of 2013," said Guelsdorf. "They're a two-man show. They're what makes Central Catholic good. Jordan Reynolds scored 27 points and Kailee Johnson scored 28 in their [River City Classic] game with us."
Guelsdorf added, "I've had people tell me [the final with Central Catholic] was the best high school game they've ever seen. It was a battle. A lot of back-and-forth...."
Guelsdorf said his Pioneers went up for good when Oregon City point guard Montana Walters hit a 3-pointer with around four minutes to play. A short time later, Johanna Paine scored on a driving layup. And a putback by Jaime Goff sealed the deal.
A Central Catholic 3-point basket at the final buzzer made it a 3-point game, but that was as close as the Rams could get down the stretch.
Paine (19 points) and Walters (18 points) headed up the Pioneers' scoring in the final with the Rams. Walters hit four 3-pointers and she had seven assists. Goff came off the bench to haul down 11 rebounds.
The tournament, which featured athletes who will return to play for their high schools in 2012-13, included many of the top high school teams from Oregon and Washington.
Four teams that placed in the top six at the 2012 Oregon Class 6A State Tournament took part, including No. 2 Westview, No. 5 Central Catholic, No. 6 St. Mary's and the Pioneers, who placed fourth. Class 5A finalists Springfield and Willamette also took part, along with Milwaukie, which was No. 6 in Class 5A.
Oregon City defeated 2012 Washington State Class 4A runner-up Central Valley of Spokane 59-47 in its bracket final, after advancing through wins over Wenatchee (87-24), Willamette (77-49), Union of Vancouver (69-37) and Inglemoor out of Kenmore, Wash. (81-48).
Willamette sported a lineup that included most of the athletes who played for the Wolverines in last season's Class 5A state final.
"Depth was the key [against Willamette]," said Guelsdorf. "We keep coming at you in waves."
Four players from Oregon City made the River City Classic All-Tournament Team - seniors-to-be Montana Walters (5-5 point guard), Jaime Goff (6-1 post), Chelsi Brewer (5-8 wing) and Johanna Paine (6-0 post). Walters was named MVP.
"As with any Oregon City team, it all starts with our point guard," said Guelsdorf. "Montana is very unselfish. She's a hard worker and she sets a great example for her teammates."
Guelsdorf said of Goff, "She's improved a lot over last year and she had a great tournament. She's matured with her body and she's put in a lot of time in the gym. She's one of our most dedicated kids, spending extra time in the gym in the off-season, and it's paying dividends."
Others vying for the Pioneers' top team at the River City Classic Tournament included: seniors Jenae Paine (5-9 wing), Amber Fifield (5-8 wing), Catelyn Preston (5-11 post) and Tiani Bradford (5-8 wing); and junior Jessica Gertz (5-9 wing).
"They all played and they all contributed," Guelsdorf said.
The Pioneers have excelled in a couple of other tournaments this summer. Guelsdorf said he split up prospective varsity players on two teams in summer tournaments at Prairie, Washington, and at George Fox College. The two Oregon City teams were co-champions at Prairie, and they placed second and fourth at George Fox, with one team losing to Central Catholic in double overtime in the championship final.
Oregon City had five teams entered in the River City Classic. Two Oregon City teams took part in Division 3, which included freshmen and small-school jayvee teams, and they placed second and third. Oregon City jayvees placed fifth in the 48-team Division 2 tournament, which featured jayvee teams and small-school varsity teams.
The End Of The Oregon Trail All-Star Tournament starts Friday (July 6) and runs through Monday. That tournament features top club all-star teams from around the U.S.
EOT All-Star Tournament American Division and National Division championship games are scheduled for 1 and 2:30 p.m. Monday.