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Youthful Pioneers go inside

OC hoopsters hold their own with the West Coast's top club teams

OREGON CITY - Oregon City High School's top girls basketball team has been having a pretty good summer.

The team went 6-0 and won first place in a June 10-12 tournament at Prairie High School. On June 17-19, the Pioneers' top team, Oregon City Black, placed third in the Class of the Field High School Tournament, losing only to Central Valley of Spokane.

More recently, they placed third in competition with club teams, going 5-1 in the Red Bracket of the Open Division of the End of the Oregon Trail Shootout. Their only loss in that tournament was by a four-point margin, 70-66, to Oregon Elite Navy, which included players from the I-5 corridor, from Salem to Portland.

And July 6-9, Oregon City's top high school team placed fourth, going 3-2 against all-star club teams in the 32-team National Division Silver Bracket of the End Of The Oregon Trail All-Star Tournament. The Pioneers were the only high school team entered in the National Division, which included no fewer than 128 teams.

In all-star tournament games, Oregon City defeated the California Vikings of the Bay area 79-46, Modesto Magic 55-43 and Cal Ballaz of Southern California 81-72, before dropping games to the Northwest Blazers of Northern Idaho and Northeast Washington 73-61, and to Mission Rec Blue from the Bay area 58-52.

'Our younger players are figuring out how to be successful at the highest level,' said Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf. 'The Northwest Blazers team we lost to had four or five Division I players and they finished second in the entire tournament, but we gave them a game.'

Sisters Johanna (6-0 post) and Jenae Paine (5-9 wing) were both named to the End Of The Oregon Trail All-Star Tournament all-tournament team.

'Johanna has consistently proven herself the best player in the gym,' said Guelsdorf. 'Jenae has been tough to defend. She can shoot the ball.'

Montana Walters (5-5 point guard) and Jade Lowery (5-6 wing) made the all-star team for the Class of the Field Tournament.

Pioneers Catelyn Preston (5-11 post) and Marcie Lugar (5-8 wing) were named all-tournament for the EOT Shootout.

'Catelyn Preston's improved greatly from being a role player last year, to becoming a player that's tough to stop,' Guelsdorf said. 'Jade Lowery's made tremendous strides in understanding our system, and playing as fast as we play.'

Guelsdorf says that Johanna Paine (14 points per game), Preston (11 ppg) and Lowery (10 ppg) have been his top point getters this summer.

Johanna is also averaging eight rebounds. Walters has sparked the offense, averaging seven points and seven assists.

'Montana Walters has become an outstanding point guard,' said Guelsdorf. 'She's taken her game to another level.'

Guelsdorf says that Lowery has been the team defensive leader.

'Compared with this time last year, post-wise, I think we're way ahead of where we were,' said Guelsdorf. 'Our posts have been pretty dominant.

'This team has been focused on getting the ball inside. We are very aggressive to the basket, and we put a lot of pressure on that way.'

The Pioneers sport a youthful lineup. Johanna and Jenae Paine will be juniors this fall, along with Walters and Preston. Lowery and Lugar are among only five seniors-to-be on Oregon City Black's 14-player summer roster.

Others vying for Oregon City Black this summer have included: seniors-to-be Rachel Roberts (5-6 point guard), Paige Lloyd (5-8 wing) and Melissa Taylor (5-10 post); juniors-to-be Tiani Bradford (5-8 wing), Chelsi Brewer (5-8 wing) and Jaime Goff (6-1 post); sophomore-to-be Jessica Gertz (5-9 wing/point guard); and freshman-to-be Jerusha Paine (6-1 post).

The Pioneers are in Tennessee this week, competing in Nashville's Music City Madness Tournament, where they are the only non-club high school team in the 128-team National Division.

On the way back from Nashville, the Pioneers will make a stop in California for San Diego's Mid Summer Night's Madness tournament.