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Pioneers put on a clinic for the Skyhawks

Oregon City leads from wire-to-wire in a 77-59 trouncing of Southridge

OREGON CITY - The top-ranked Oregon City Pioneers showed up with their game faces on and led from wire-to-wire, as they dispatched with the Southridge Skyhawks of the Metro League 77-59 in a March 5 first-round game of the Class 6A boys basketball playoffs.

It was an history-making night for the Pioneers, who improved their season record to 25-1, giving them the most wins of an Oregon City boys basketball team in nearly seven decades.

An Oregon City boys basketball team went 25-9 in 1939, when there was no limit to the number of games a team could play. No other team, except this year's Pioneer squad, has had a 25-win season in school history.

'We've got a great group of guys and a great coach to hopefully lead us all the way to the state championship,' said Oregon City senior Bryce Kinney.

The Pioneers played like state champions in last week's game with Southridge.

They hit the backboards hard and set a rapid-fire pace of play from the outset. And they shot the lights out in the first and third periods. They were 9-of-12 from the field in the first period and 9-of-13 from the field in the third stanza.

Pioneer playmaker Brad Tinsley led the charge in the first period, when his 11 points helped stake the Pioneers to a 21-12 advantage.

Oregon City 6-9 post Sammy Schafer and Tinsley led the charge in the third period, scoring nine and seven points respectively, as the Pioneers stretched their lead to 37-21.

The Pioneers scored on their first five possessions of the fourth period, stretching their advantage to 68-47, and putting the game on ice.

Led by Schafer (12 rebounds) and 6-4 senior Kamal Smith (9 rebounds), the Pioneers owned the glass, building a 33-17 advantage on the backboards.

'[Southridge] only got four offensive rebounds,' Oregon City coach Mike Doherty observed.

'We did a great job rebounding,' said Kinney. 'We had size on them and we took advantage. Sammy and Kamal owned the glass.'

Tinsley (28 points) and Schafer (19 points) paced the Pioneers in scoring. Tinsley was 11-of-18 from the field, with three 3-pointers; Schafer was 8-of-12 from the field, with three putbacks.

Tinsley also sparked the offense with seven assists.

The game would have been a lot more lopsided, had it not been for the aggressive play of Southridge all-league post Kevin Sullivan. The 6-4 junior tallied 28 points to tie Tinsley for game-high honors.

'[Sullivan] made a lot of shots that were tough shots,' said Doherty. 'He's pretty impressive in that regard….

'But Brad had a pretty good night as well. Twenty-eight points, seven assists, and he played some really good defense as well. I'm glad he was on our side.'

Southridge senior co-captain Juan Zuniga was impressed by the Pioneers, but he wasn't yet ready to concede that they are the top team in the state.

'They're a great team,' he said. 'They are very talented. No doubt about it. But the Metro League is a tough league. And if they played in the Metro League I think they'd have a pretty even match-up every night.'

The Skyhawks, the No. 4 team from the Metro League, finished the year with an overall record of 17-8, with five of their eight losses coming in league play.

'We knew coming in that they were very, very dangerous,' said Doherty. 'The Metro League champion was Sunset and they split with Sunset, beating them by three points and losing to them by three points. There wasn't that much difference in that league between No. 1 and No. 4. They were easily the toughest No. 4 seed in the playoffs.'

For the Pioneers, the victory was their 24th straight against teams from Oregon. The win advanced the Pioneers to Saturday's second-round playoff game with Canby, the No. 3 team from the Pacific Conference.