Pioneers make it nine in row
Oregon City knocks off one of the top teams in the country in the quarterfinals of the Les Schwab Invitationa
HILLSBORO - The second-ranked Oregon City Pioneers continued as one of the hottest high school boys basketball teams in the state in Dec. 26 and Dec. 27 games at the Les Schwab Invitational, as they stretched their season record to 9-0 with wins over Jefferson of Portland and Helen Cox of Harvey, Louisiana.
The 56-53 win over Helen Cox in Thursday's Les Schwab Tournament quarterfinals was considered a major upset, because the Louisiana team was riding a 15-game win string and was ranked among the top 25 teams in the country.
But Helen Cox, which features 6-10 senior Greg Monroe, who is ranked the top high school senior in the United States, had an excuse. They were without Monroe and three of his teammates, who were back in Louisiana attending the funeral of a junior varsity player who had died in an accidental shooting.
Still, it was a huge win for the Pioneers, who rallied around sharp outside shooting to battle back from an early 12-point deficit.
The Pioneers led by as many as eight points early in the fourth quarter, but the visiting Cougars refused to quit.
Helen Cox guard Tony Locure banked in a 3-pointer with 1.8 ticks left on the clock. But Oregon City senior point guard Brad Tinsley answered with a pair of free throws, and the victory was secure.
The Pioneers got out-rebounded 41-24, but they won the game with sharp shooting from behind the 3-point line. Tinsley, Kamal Smith and Alex Seigal were a combined 7-of-14 on 3-pointers.
Tinsley tallied a game-high 25 points, connecting with 4-fo-10 success on 3-pointers. The Pioneers senior leader also had a team-high seven rebounds and four assists.
Oregon City 6-9 post Sammy Schafer held his own with Helen Cox 6-10 big man Trevon Flores, scoring 12 points, rejecting four shots, collecting six rebounds, and stealing the ball three times.
Smith (10 points) joined Tinsley and Schafer in double figures in scoring.
Flores paced the Cougars with 14 points and 10 rebounds.
Schafer, Smith and Tinsley played pivotal roles, as the Pioneers dispatched with Jefferson, the No. 2-ranked team in Oregon Class 5A basketball, 71-61 in their Dec. 26 Les Schwab Invitational opener.
It was the first loss of the 2007-08 season for Jefferson.
Schafer, Smith and Tinsley all hit the backboards hard, as the Pioneers out-rebounded the athletic Democrats 42-31. Schafer hauled down 13 rebounds, while Tinsley and Smith had 9 apiece.
'Rebounding was a big factor,' said Tinsley. 'When you're playing against a talented, athletic team like Jefferson, you've got to rebound….'
Schafer hit rebound baskets at the end of the first and second quarters that allowed the Pioneers to forge a 34-27 lead by halftime.
Oregon City hit a shooting slump in the third period. And when Jefferson guard Henry Williams scored on the fast break a minute into the fourth quarter, the Demos moved on top 49-48.
Tinsley then cashed in on a pair of free throws and added a 3-pointer. Smith hit a pair of charity tosses, scored a fast-break bucket off a pass from Tinsley, and drove to the basket for two more. And the Pioneers were back in the driver's seat, leading 59-51 with just under four minutes to play.
Tinsley added a rebound basket and went 8-for-8 from the charity stripe down the stretch, to secure the win.
Tinsley finished with a game-high 29 points, scoring 15 points in the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line.
Schafer scored 18 points and Smith chipped in with 13.
'I thought we played very well, especially against an athletic team like they are,' said Tinsley. 'I thought we handled their [full-court defensive] pressure really well.'
'They were a tough, physical team, with some great outside shooters,' said Schafer. 'But we blocked out and controlled the boards, and we defended well.'
The Democrats finished up with a cool .349 shooting percentage, and they found the mark on only 12-of-38 attempts from 3-point range.
Schafer had the hot hand for Oregon City, dropping in 8-of-10 shots from the floor. Tinsley was 8-of-16 from the field and 12-of-15 from the line.
The Pioneers used a balanced attack to sink the sharp-shooting Newberg Tigers 77-63 in a preseason game played here Dec. 21.
Kamal Smith scored a season-high 24 points to lead four Oregon City players who reached double figures in scoring.
Sammy Schafer scored 19, Brad Tinsley tallied 16 points and Bryce Kinney added 12.
The Pioneers were in charge all the way, despite Newberg's 16-of-40 shooting from 3-point land. Oregon City was up 23-17 at the end of the first period and 40-29 at the intermission.
The Pioneers begin league play on Tuesday, Jan. 8, when they entertain Clackamas.