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PIL will have a big distraction off the court this season

Winning a PIL basketball title is going to be especially difficult this winter, and not just because of the competition on the court.

The competition for focus off the court is going to be a factor, too, for a league that needs to raise about $300,000 to save its spring sports program.

Focus might have played a part in the Lincoln boys' narrow victory over visiting Cleveland on Thursday. The Cardinals, ranked No. 3 in the first state poll, trailed 48-45 with less than three minutes remaining in their PIL opener. Lincoln finished with a 15-5 run to win 62-53.

Earlier in the day, Lincoln coach Troy Berry was on television, talking about Damon Stoudamire's $250,000 donation to the Portland Interscholastic League and its teachers. Berry is a friend of Stoudamire.

Lincoln's coaches and players sequestered themselves in their locker room for more than 20 minutes after the Cleveland game. The Cardinals (3-0) now are in Hawaii for a weeklong tournament.

Jefferson junior Brittney Davis says her teammates are focused on their drive to reach the girls' state tournament ('the ship,' in high school-ese), but in both practice and school it is easy for their thoughts to wander.

'We're very focused on the season É but we talk about (cutting spring sports),' Davis said after the Demos ran past Benson 82-68 on Friday. 'We talked about that in classes all week. It's there.'

Jefferson has just three seniors and is averaging 69 points per game, so coach Milt Adams can look forward to next season, too.

Trouble is, there's plenty of concern that the 2003-04 PIL athletic budget might be in jeopardy, too.

'Who can look forward to next year when there might not be a next year?' Adams says. 'I think it takes a toll on the kids. All kids have a need for security. They need to know that the things they count on are going to be there next year.'

MORE HOOPS: The Cleveland boys looked promising in their loss at Lincoln, getting 16 points from Isaiah Washington.

'We think we have a shot at the playoffs,' Washington says. 'It's a tough league, but we're an improving team, and we have a lot of heart.'

Cleveland had a 25-7 advantage in free-throw attempts through three quarters, then didn't have a single free-throw attempt in the fourth quarter. The Warriors fell to 1-4 with a loss at Reynolds on Friday night.

Benson improved to 3-0 and won the four-team David Douglas tourney, beating the host Scots and McMinnville. The Techmen averaged 75 points per game.

Jefferson's boys begin play in the 16-team Les Schwab Invitational on Wednesday. The Demos will face Churchill at noon.

FOOTBALL: The NFL is taking nominations for next summer's Youth Football Summit, to be held in conjunction with the 2003 Hall of Fame weekend in Canton, Ohio. To nominate a coach, visit www.nfl.com. Wilson coach Steve Pyne attended last summer's summit.

Contact Cliff Pfenning at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .