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Rams hung tough in 6A tourney

Prep Tourneys • Balanced Central Catholic lost by six and then by three
by: MILES VANCE, Cole Whitehurst and Central Catholic finished 20-8 this season, with an opening round 46-43 loss to South Medford and 66-60 consolation defeat against Sunset.

Central Catholic showed it belonged in the Class 6A tournament last week. The Rams came up just short in both their games, losing by three and six points in battles that went down to the final minute.

In both a 46-43 opening-round loss to Sunset and a 66-60 consolation defeat to South Medford, the Rams had late 3-point attempts to tie.

Central Catholic finished 20-8.

'We played two very good teams and our kids competed their hearts out,' Central coach Mike Petrino says.

The Rams had balanced scoring, with five players totaling 15 to 23 points. Derek Bowen, a 6-2 junior guard, and Nate Carr, a 6-4 junior guard, led the way with 23 and 22 total points, respectively. Bowen went 9 of 13 from the field in the tournament, and Carr added a team-high 15 total rebounds.

The Rams committed 17 turnovers (with eight assists) and shot just 37.5 percent from the field in the Sunset state quarterfinal.

• Don't look for the 6A and 5A boys tournaments to be in Portland anytime soon.

The Oregon School Activities Association is negotiating a five-year contract that would keep the two tourneys at the University of Oregon.

'We have an unwritten understanding that we will continue to use U of O facilities for track and field and basketball,' OSAA Executive Director Tom Welter says.

UO enticed the OSAA to Eugene with cheap rent ($10,000) for football, basketball and track. 'We spent that much last week at the Chiles Center (for the 6A and 5A girls basketball tournaments),' Welter says.

The 6A, 5A and 4A football finals have moved to Oregon State, but Oregon's interest in playing host to basketball and track remains strong, Welter says.

'We bring exposure to the university. It's a chance for the players and their families and friends to see the school and the campus,' he adds.

The OSAA likes the focus that the Eugene area puts on the tourneys, too.

'The week we're here, we're the biggest happening in the Eugene-Springfield area,' Welter says. 'In Portland, sometimes we're not sure if anybody even notices we're there.'

Welter acknowledges, though, that it might make some sense to play the 6A boys and girls tourneys in Portland, because 6A is made up largely of teams from the metro area.

'If we went to a format that had the 6A boys and girls in one tournament and the 5A boys and girls in another, then it would be obvious that the 6A has to be in Portland,' he says, 'and the 5A might be held in Eugene.'

• Minus the 2007 marquee power of Kevin Love and Kyle Singler, attendance dropped from 40,575 for last year's 6A-5A tourneys to 32,453. The finals (Jefferson-Corvallis and Grant-Oregon City) drew 4,498. Last year, the closing session (Roosevelt-North Eugene and Lake Oswego-South Medford) had 9,087 fans.

• Grant freshman Krystal Forthan, the PIL 6A girls basketball player of the year, says she is torn between returning to Grant or transferring to Jefferson, the 5A state champion. Forthan lives a few blocks from Jeff, but her family encouraged her to go to Grant and would like her to return there in September.

'I don't know yet what I'm doing next year,' the 6-4 wing says.

Forthan says she won't play for Grant's summer team, however. She says she'll travel nationally as a member of Baden Elite, a Seattle-based Amateur Athletic Union squad, along with guard Ra'zja Goodman, who played for Cleveland as a freshman this season.

Jefferson coach Michael Bontemps says he'll be back next season, with seven returning players. Jeff's summer team could play close to 40 games in June and July, he says. 'I think it's important to keep the kids together in the summer,' he says. 'You can become battle-tested.'