The Pioneers expect to hold their own in the Three Rivers League
If preseason is any indication, then the Oregon City Pioneers will hold their own in Three Rivers League boys basketball in 2013.
Through play last Friday, the Pioneers sported an 8-2 record in preseason play.
They out-scored their first 10 opponents by an average tally of 56-43. Their only losses were in barnburners with Beaverton (56-49) and with David Douglas (55-52). The eighth-ranked Beavers sported a 10-1 record through play last weekend.
The Pioneers were impressive during a recent holiday tournament at Reynolds, dispatching with Glencoe 86-44 and Parkrose 57-43.
The Glencoe game was the highest scoring game of the season for the Pioneers and it was the most points the Glencoe Tide had allowed an opponent this winter.
It was our best shooting night, and we had 18 steals, Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk said of the Glencoe game. We have a good shooting game. We just hadnt shot the ball very well [before the rout of Glencoe].
Against the Tide, the Pioneers made 33-of-54 shots from the floor (61 percent), and 10 of their baskets were 3-pointers. Valentino Polk scored a career-high 28 points to lead 10 Oregon City players who put points on the scoreboard. Polk hit four 3-pointers, and he had eight steals.
He scored a lot on the fast-break, Newkirk said of Polk.
Polk (16 points) and sophomore Hunter Knighton (15 points) led a balanced offensive attack in the Parkrose game. Freshman Trevon Bradford, in his first varsity start, sparked the Pioneer offense with eight assists.
He was filling in for Cody Hole, who was on vacation, Newkirk observed.
Heading into play this week, Polk was the Pioneers leading scorer, averaging 12.2 points on 49-for-95 shooting (.515) with thirteen 3-pointers.
Polk was also averaging a team-leading 3.4 steals, and 2.5 assists.
Nolan Muckenthaler was averaging a team-leading 6.7 rebounds.
Tinos doing an outstanding job, Newkirk said. Hes athletic and he plays super hard. His teammates respect him and hes been a great team leader.
The Pioneers have had a balanced offense, with Polk, Muckenthaler, Hole, Knighton, Bradford, Brad Martin and Austin DeWitz all averaging 5 points or more a game.
The Pioneers have averaged .449 shooting as a team.
Defense has been pivotal in the Pioneer success story. Oregon City has forced an average of 20 turnovers a game, while holding opponents to .404 shooting.
Thats a tribute to the kids buying into our system, Newkirk said. Theyre playing extremely hard on the defensive end. Thats been our strength....
Weve got to continue to improve at the offensive end, but were getting there....
It wont be anything close to a cakewalk for the Pioneers in the TRL. Lake Oswego (13-0) is undefeated and the Lakers are ranked No. 1 in the state in the OSAA power rankings.
West Linn (8-4) is ranked sixth in the state; Lakeridge sports an 8-4 record in preseason and the Pacers are averaging 73 points an outing, to their opponents 61 points.
Through play last week, TRL teams had 48 wins and only 23 losses. The Pioneers begin Three Rivers League competition this Friday, when they entertain Lakeridge.