Oregon City once again is heavily favored in this week's state tournament

The Oregon City Pioneers are so good, Wilson center Jessie Shetters doesn't even want to watch them play.

Oregon City has won the last two state titles and eight of the last 11. It's been ranked No. 1 all season and hasn't lost to an Oregon school.

'I've seen some of their players play as individuals in summer games, but I haven't been that interested in watching them play as a team,' says Shetters, who will play for the University of Oregon next season. 'I don't want to watch them play because I might get jealous of how good they are.'

Anyone who follows girls basketball knows that Oregon City is the team to beat as the 2003 tourney unfolds today through Saturday at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.

Oregon City beat its two Three Rivers League rivals, No. 4 Lakeridge and No. 7 Lake Oswego, by an average of 23 points. The Pioneers have four McDonald's All-American nominees. Most schools are lucky to have one.

'No one's going to give up before the tournament starts, but if you want to pick a team to beat, it's Oregon City,' Central Catholic coach Sandy Dickerson says.

First-round games include Portland Interscholastic League champion Wilson (18-5) vs. Mount Hood Conference champion Central Catholic (20-4), ranked ninth, at 7 tonight. Oregon City (22-2) plays No. 5 Glencoe (20-5) at 8:45 tonight.

Metro League champ Jesuit (22-2), ranked third, meets Hermiston (19-6) at 8:45 p.m. Wednesday in a first-round game.

Jesuit lost to Oregon City 64-46 in the semifinals last season.

'It made me work harder in the offseason,' says Jesuit senior Courtney Fritz, who is headed for San Diego State. 'We needed to be more aggressive as a team.'

If Jesuit meets OC in this tourney, it won't be until Saturday because the teams are in different halves of the 16-team bracket. Jesuit coach Kathy Adelman-Naro says that's a big win for her team.

'I'm proud that we were able to win the Metro League, which is a pretty tough league,' she says. 'And the added bonus is, we got put in the other half of the tournament bracket, away from Oregon City.'

Central Catholic has been practicing against Oregon City all season Ñ at least that's how Dickerson primes her team to mentally prepare for the Pioneers.

'When you want to be Oregon's best team,' Central senior Kate Benz says, 'you play Oregon City.'

If the Rams beat Wilson in the first round, their next opponent is likely to be Oregon City on Thursday night.

Benz says she hasn't envisioned a victory over the Pioneers but knows that it would be memorable, even historical. 'That moment would last a long time,' she says. 'That would be something.'

'To beat them, you would have to really be on,' Dickerson says. 'And then catch them on a night when they aren't. That's always possible.'

Shetters says being unheralded Ñ the Trojans haven't been ranked even once in the state poll ÑÊcan be a positive.

'We're looking to have fun; we don't have any pressure on us like they do at Oregon City,' Shetters says. 'If we played Oregon City, we'd be looking to have fun. But I'd like to play them, just for the experience.'

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