The Pioneers prove themselves still among the state's elite
PORTLAND - Sporting one of the youngest lineups in the state, the Oregon City Pioneers did themselves proud at the Class 6A State High School Girls Basketball Tournament, placing third in the field.
It was the Pioneers' 24th consecutive trophy at the state's big-school state championship tournament.
'We were the only team in the [OSAA's] top 30 with no returning starters,' said Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf. 'I think our kids did an amazing job this season.'
'A lot of people didn't think we could make it this far,' said Oregon City senior co-captain Aly Holterhoff. 'But we believed, we worked hard, and we proved them wrong.'
'Obviously we wanted a championship and we didn't get that, said Pioneer sophomore captain Johanna Paine. 'But we got a lot further than anybody thought we would. So I was really proud of our team….
'If we hadn't lost [to Jesuit in the semifinal], we probably would have won state.'
Starting three sophomores, the Pioneers (24-5) recorded impressive wins in two of their three state-tournament games, upending sixth-ranked Tigard 66-36 in the quarterfinals and fourth-ranked South Eugene 72-55 in Saturday's third-place final at the Rose Garden.
And had it not been for a slow start and a technical foul to their top big girl, 6-0 sophomore post Johanna Paine, the Pioneers might have been able to challenge eventual state champion Jesuit.
They lost to Jesuit 72-61, after falling behind by 13 points in the first half, when the Crusaders caught fire from downtown, hitting six 6-pointers.
The Pioneers appeared to be making a run at the Crusaders in the second half. Paine's two free throws with 3:18 remaining in the third stanza trimmed Jesuit's lead to 45-33.
But a short time later, Paine was benched for the afternoon when an official at first dinged her with a charging foul, and then followed it up with a technical foul. The technical was Paine's fifth foul.
'I already had three fouls [when the official made the charging call],' said Paine. 'I threw my hands up and said, 'Oh no.' The next thing I know, the official was turning around and calling a technical….
'When I went out, we didn't have the inside presence we needed, and the whole team kind of let down.'
Paine had 12 points and 5 rebounds when she left the game.
Holterhoff (17 points) and Jordy Klebaum (11 points) also scored in double figures in the loss.
Jesuit 6-1 post Elizabeth Brenner tallied a game-high 23 points and hauled down 10 rebounds to lead the Crusaders.
Oregon City used unconscious shooting from downtown to made quick-work of Tigard. The Pioneers hit an all-time, all-classification state-tournament record 13-of-25 3-pointers in the rout.
Jenae Paine, Klebaum and Montana Walters hit four 3-pointers apiece.
They drained seven 3-pointers in the third period, when they out-scored the Tigers 25-0 and put the game on ice.
Jenae Paine (16 points), Klebaum (12 points), Walters (12 points, 4 assists) and Holterhoff (8 points, 10 assists) headed Oregon City's offense.
The Pioneers had assists on 21 of their 24 baskets, as they converted at a .533 clip from the field for the game.
'That's the reason why we've been so successful this year,' said Holterhoff. 'We're very unselfish. We pass the ball a lot and try to get people open looks.'
The Pioneers were also tough on the backboards, hauling down missed shots at both ends of the floor. Holterhoff (11 rebounds) and Johanna Paine (8 rebounds) led their squad to a 30-14 advantage on the backboards.
Oregon City's victory over Tigard snapped a 19-game Tiger win string.
Jenae Paine keyed the Pioneers' win over South Eugene. Oregon City was nursing only a two-point lead early in the third quarter, when Paine hit three consecutive 3-pointers and a lay-up to open the gap to 11 points, at 43-32.
The Pioneers were 10-of-18 from beyond the arc for the game. Jenae Paine tallied 17 points, hitting 5-of-8 3-pointers. Jade Lowery scored 15 points, connecting on 3-of-5 shots from downtown.
Johanna Paine kept the Axemen defense honest, scoring a team-high 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting. Holterhoff tallied 11 points, hitting 5-of-7 shots from the floor.
Walters sparked the Pioneer offense with nine assists.
The Pioneers were a hot-handed 26-of-47 (.553) from the field as a team.
Johanna Paine was named to the tournament's first team of all-stars, while Holterhoff made the second team. Paine was the only sophomore named to either all-star unit.
Johanna Paine, Jenae Paine and Holterhoff, averaged 13.0, 12.7 and 12.0 points respectively to lead the Pioneers in scoring for the state tournament. Holterhoff averaged 8.0 rebounds, third highest for the tournament.
Walters and Holterhoff were the state tournament's assist leaders, averaging 5.7 and 5.3 respectively.
Oregon City's team set an all-time, all-classification record for most points scored in three tournament games, at 199 (66.3 average).
The team also set 6A tournament records for field goal percentage (73-of-144, .507), 3-point percentage (25-of-56, .500), assists (57 for 3 games), and single game assists (22).
Holterhoff's 10 assists in the Tigard game tied a tournament single-game assists record set by Oregon City graduate Paige Halberg in 2007; Walters' 17 assists for the tournament set a 6A tournament record.
'The assist record is special, because that's the statistic that reflects team play,' said Guelsdorf. 'This team certainly maximized their potential.'
'Next year we're probably going to win state,' said Johanna Paine. 'We'll work hard in summer ball and that should help us a lot.'