Jefferson has been the little team that could for most of the girls basketball season, and the Democrats continue to believe they can beat just about anyone, even though their tallest player is just 5-foot-9.
The Democrats play host to a third-round game in the OSAA/U.S. Bank Class 4A state playoffs Saturday needing just the one win to reach the state tournament, which begins Tuesday at the Chiles Center.
Jefferson has been preparing this week, expecting to play Glencoe of the Metro League.
'We know they're taller than us,' says junior forward Joyce Nicholas, who is Jefferson's tallest player. 'Everyone is taller than us. After awhile, you just get used to it, and it's not a big deal anymore.'
Jefferson (15-5) won eight of its last nine games to finish second in the Portland Interscholastic League. To win in the playoffs, though, the Demos believe they're going to need to play above their regular-season level.
'We finished the season with Grant, Wilson and Benson, three of the top teams in our league, so that was good,' Jefferson coach Milt Adams says. 'But we're going to have to go to another level to beat a team like Glencoe.'
The key to the game should be turnovers and rebounding. Because Jefferson is smaller, it generally tries to beat opponents in the open court, generating a fast-paced game.
'We want to run and take them out of what they do,' sophomore guard Brittney Davis says. 'And we need to play as a team.'
Nicholas says she can tell whether her teammates are focused on teamwork before a game starts. Jefferson has shown, in several games against other PIL playoff teams, that it can look incapable of scoring, only to turn its game around and look dominating. Against Grant, the Demos trailed 22-4 after one quarter and rallied to win 55-53.
'You know if you have it when everyone gets together before the game, and that's important,' Nicholas says. 'But we can get it together as the game goes on. It's kind of fun that way; you never know what's going to happen.'
SEEDING: Wilson coach Rick Earl says that he expects the Trojan girls, who went unbeaten in league play, to be seeded between 12 and 15 from among the 16 teams that reach the state tournament.
If the seeding committee has any savvy, it might match up the Trojans with Central Catholic, which could be seeded second or third, in the first round. The announcement on seeding will take place Sunday afternoon.
WRESTLING: David Douglas senior Justin Snoderly earned a No. 2 seed at 215 pounds heading into the state tournament, which is ongoing through Saturday at Memorial Coliseum. Parkrose junior Travis Gardner is seeded fourth at the same weight.
BUILDING NEWS: Grant High was set to break ground on new dugouts for its baseball field Thursday, a project it raised money for in the fall. The public fund raising was for $8,000, but the actual project total is closer to $30,000, says Grant baseball coach Rob Kennewell. He expects the dugouts to be finished by spring break.
The plan to install lights at Cleveland, Marshall and Roosevelt is still on track, although the permit process is a hurdle that is still upcoming, PIL Athletic Director Greg Ross said Wednesday. The school district had planned on finding a contractor and starting the permit process by January, but it won't get to that stage until at least the end of March. The three separate projects should still be done by the start of football season.
And the school district has agreed to allow Lincoln to rename its football field in honor of an alumnus, on whose behalf a large donation is being made, so far anonymously. An official announcement is forthcoming.
BOWL TIME: The Les Schwab Bowl, which used to be the Oregon Bowl, announced its roster of players this week, and two of the three quarterbacks for the North are from the PIL.
Franklin's Legedu Naanee, headed for Boise State, and Mike Libby of Lincoln are on the North roster along with Glencoe's Zach Henningsen.
Other players include Ronald Richmond of Franklin, Jay Darden and James Hatch of Lincoln, Drew Dukeshire of Benson, Ishmael Littleton of Jefferson and Geoff Odin of Wilson.
Isaac Daniels of Reynolds, KJ Glennon of Central Catholic, Rob Criswell of Centennial and Justin Snoderly of David Douglas will represent the Mount Hood Conference. DJ Jackson and Kyle Faulk of Jesuit are among the Metro League representatives.
Tom Smythe of McNary is set to coach the South squad, while Lake Oswego coach Steve Coury will coach the North. The game is scheduled for June 22 at PGE Park.
CLUB NEWS: Chris Rodgers' future head coach, Lute Olson of Arizona, is scheduled to be the headline speaker June 6 at the first honors award dinner for the Inner City Players club basketball program. Jefferson coach Marshall Haskins also is slated to speak.
The dinner will honor the first 11 players of the ICP program, who include Rodgers, Chris Stephens of Madison, and Jefferson's Brandon and Curtis Lincoln.
The ICP program also runs the Great Northwest Summer League, and director Canaan Chatman says the league will move to Jefferson High this summer. In addition, the eight-team league will include three teams from local small colleges, including Concordia.
CLUB NEWS II: The top 18-and-under volleyball team from the Northwest Juniors, coached by Rod Jones, is essentially the hottest team in the West, having already won a major tournament. Central Catholic's Katie Greiner and Ali Salsgiver of Centennial play on the team, which has Sheena Surplus of Gresham and Jodi Bell of Barlow, the Class 4A players of the year for the past two years, as setters.