Top teams see a chance against Pioneers
Forget about just handing the state title in girls basketball to Oregon City this season.
The Pioneers may be starting the season as the No. 3-ranked team in the nation, according to USA Today, but they've got a giant bull's-eye on their uniforms as far as the rest of the state's top teams are concerned.
Oregon City has won nine of the last 12 state titles, including the last three, but this year's team begins the season generating less fear among the metro area schools that are supposed to shake in their high-tops.
'They don't seem to be as deep as they were last year,' says Jesuit coach Kathy Adelman-Naro, whose team lost to the Pioneers 77-49 in the state final last year. 'They were 10 or 11 players deep last year, and that's just about impossible to compete with. But they only seem to be about five players deep this year, which at least gives you a chance.
'Of course, I haven't seen them play, so who knows what they'll really be like? At least we're going into the season with the idea that we can beat them at some point, and that's a big difference.'
Oregon City, which starts the season ranked No. 1 in the state, returns seniors Kristen Forristall, a 6-2 center, and Jackie Hollands, a 5-9 guard, from its championship roster. Both players have signed with Pacific-10 Conference schools.
The Pioneers will get plenty of playoff preparation in the Three Rivers League, which also features top-10 teams in Lake Oswego and Lakeridge.
Lake Oswego has 5-9 senior Kelsey Lavender returning, along with classmate Jessica Lee, both of whom were key starters on the squad that reached the state quarterfinals last season.
Lakeridge returns Class 4A player of the year Jillian Harmon, a 6-1 junior.
Jesuit, which opens its season at Lake Oswego today, returns 6-foot center Bronwyn Evans, who is headed for Loyola-Marymount, and point guard Jessie Knox, who is bound for Harvard. Both started in the state final last season.
Southridge, which lost 63-32 to Oregon City in the state semifinals last year, returns key starters Ashley Charters and Stacey Nicholls. The Skyhawks were deemed the No. 2 team in Oregon by the nine coaches who vote in the statewide poll.
One thing that Southridge, Jesuit and their neighboring schools have going for them is the Metro League schedule, which should prepare them for a tough playoff run.
'There's probably six teams that can reach the playoffs in our league, so it's going to be very competitive every night,' Adelman-Naro says. 'That's something that will get us ready for the playoffs.'
Along with Southridge and Jesuit, Beaverton, Westview, Sunset, Glencoe and even Aloha look promising as playoff teams.
In the Mount Hood Conference, teams will be chasing defending champion Central Catholic, which returns point guard Annie McIntyre; Sandy; and St. Mary's, which has a 6-2 sophomore center in Nya Mason.
In the Pac-9 conference, defending champion Tigard and Tualatin figure to be the teams to beat.
The state tournament has been reduced to eight teams this season from 16. That means every team that qualifies will have to win at least two games to reach the double-elimination tournament.