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Pioneers make a statement at West Linn

OregonCity clinches second in league with a decisive win over the Lions

WEST LINN - The fifth-ranked Oregon City Pioneers made a statement here Feb. 13, as they locked up second place in Three Rivers League boys basketball through a 93-69 trouncing of ninth-ranked West Linn.

Heading into the game, there were more than a handful of people who believed the Pioneers might throw the game because a loss might give Oregon City an easier seed in the upcoming state playoffs.

But throwing the game was far from the Pioneers' minds, as they completely dominated the Lions.

'Our kids are always going to play to win,' said Oregon City coach Mike Doherty. 'I don't know how they could play any other way than to win. It's just not in us to lose for better seeding. It's not in our nature. It's not what Pioneer basketball is about. As Pioneers, we play hard and we play to win.'

Sharp shooting and defense were the keys for the Pioneers on Feb. 13, as they burned the nets from downtown to build an early lead, and never looked back.

Led by point guard Brad Tinsley, the Pioneers were 14-of-29 from 3-point land.

Tinsley was 10-of-16 from the field, with six 3-pointers. The junior playmaker also came through with eight assists.

Reserve wing Kamal Smith came off the bench to score 11 points, nab seven rebounds and block two shots. The 6-4 junior was a perfect 3-of-3 on 3-pointers.

But the Pioneers were tough close to the basket as well. Junior post Sammy Schafer had a stellar game, scoring a career-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, hauling down 14 rebounds and blocking five shots.

'Coach Doherty and my teammates have been telling me I need to be more aggressive,' said Schafer. 'I've been working on trying to do that.

'My teammates deserve a lot of credit. They were looking for me and getting me the ball.

'But I give most of the credit to God, and I thank him for blessing me with the abilities that I have.'

'Sammy's starting to play with a little more energy,' said Doherty. 'You get that, combined with 6-9 height, and you've got a pretty good thing.'

Doherty noted that four of Schafer's baskets came on offensive put-backs.

Colton Sundquist sparked the Pioneer offense with seven assists.

'It was a pretty good game for us,' said Doherty. 'We had 28 assists on 36 makes. That's what we like, a high assist to field goal ratio.'

Doherty pointed to defense on West Linn's 3-point shooters as another key.

'We gave them a little more underneath, but we did a better job with our perimeter coverage,' said Doherty. 'They hurt us with the 3-pointer last time.'

The Lions were 5-of-21 from beyond the arc in last week's contest.

Oregon City built a 25-16 first-quarter advantage, rallying around Jared Cunningham (8 points) and sharp outside shooting by Tinsley and Smith.

The Pioneers widened the gap to 48-32 by halftime, and it was all over but the shouting.

Matt Hollands (10 points) joined Tinsley, Schafer and Smith in double figures in scoring.

Brenton Spickerman (16 points) and Bryce Baker (10 points) were the only Lions to reach double figures.

With the win, the Pioneers (17-5, 8-2) locked up second place in the Three Rivers League - behind second-ranked Lake Oswego (21-1, 10-0).

As the TRL's No. 2 seed in the state playoffs, the Pioneers will host Tualatin, the No. 4 team from the Pacific Conference, in their Feb. 28 playoff opener. Should they win that contest they'll likely meet top-ranked South Medford in a March 3 loser-out game for a berth in the eight-team Class 6A State Tournament.

With last week's loss to Oregon City and a win over Milwaukie, West Linn slipped to 7-3 in league (16-6 overall).

Oregon City was to conclude the regular season this week, meeting second-ranked Lake Oswego on the road on Tuesday, and hosting Putnam on Thursday.

In a non-league game last Friday, the Pioneers buried West Salem 71-31.

Cunningham headed the effort, scoring 19 points on 8-for-9 shooting, with 12 rebounds.

Tinsley had 14 points and 4 assists; Schafer had 11 rebounds and 9 points.

Seven different Oregon City players hit 3-pointers, as the Pioneers opened up an early lead and never looked back.