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Pioneers finish on top at Trail Tourney

Oregon City High School's top summer girls basketball team knocks off Class 4A state champion Southridge

OREGON CITY - The prestigious End of the Oregon Trail High School All-Star Girls Basketball Tournament, which concluded here July 9, was a huge confidence-booster for Oregon City High School's entry, Oregon City Black.

The Pioneers' top high school team defeated five all-star teams from new Mexico, Colorado, California and Texas to win their bracket, and they followed with a 66-61 victory over 2006 Oregon Class 4A high school champion Southridge in the American Division championship final.

The win was especially gratifying for Oregon City Black, because it avenged losses to Southridge in the final of the 2006 Class 4A state high school tournament, and in the bracket final of a summer tournament played just eight days earlier.

'It's summertime, so it doesn't mean a lot,' said Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf. 'But eight days ago we lost to Southridge. We were able to learn from that and make some adjustments.

'It was a big boost for the girls psychologically. Based on what's been going on this summer, there are four or five teams that could win state next year, and Southridge was probably the favorite.'

The American Division final with Southridge was tight all the way. But Oregon City's depth appeared to pay dividends, as the Pioneers came through with some key buckets and defensive stops down the stretch.

'Paige Halberg hit a couple of 3's, Kelly Marchant made a couple of fast-break buckets off of passes from Sarah Boyd, Lindsey Shearer hit a 15-foot jumper, and Boyd made four straight free throws [to ice the win],' said Guelsdorf.

Seniors-to-be Boyd (5-4 point guard), Marchant (5-9 wing), Halberg (5-9 wing), Shearer (5-9 wing) and Whitney Chase (5-11 post) started for the Pioneers. But Guelsdorf said that nine to 10 players from the 15-player roster saw a good deal of playing time throughout the tournament.

Boyd (15 points), Halberg (15 points) and Marchant (13 points) paced the Pioneers in scoring in the final.

Southridge 6-3 junior Michelle Jenkins tallied a game-high 27 points.

Marchant and Jenkins were named most valuable players of their respective brackets.

'We're not as big as Southridge, or as physical, but we're every bit as tough,' Guelsdorf said.

In other tournament games, the Pioneers earned victories over New Mexico Heat, Colorado Force, California's Pacific Pistols, the Texas Hooping Angels, and the Fort Worth Frogs.

The tournament featured 192 teams from throughout the country, sixty-four of which played with Oregon City in the American Division.

Others vying for Oregon City Black included: seniors-to-be Jessica Vorpahl (6-0 post), Becca Schuh (5-9 wing), Liz Ralston (5-9 post) and Boo Fox (5-5 wing/point guard); juniors-to-be Justine Belliveau (5-10 wing/post), Michelle Powell (5-10 post), Karlie Gach (5-8 wing/point guard), Jessica Anderson (5-8 wing) and Kenna Borgmeier (5-5 point guard); and freshman-to-be Brittany Knighton (5-11 wing/post).

'These are probably the players who will be vying for spots on next year's varsity, both because of talent and experience,' said Guelsdorf. 'But they could have some competition. We've got some talented younger players who could figure in the mix.'