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Mustang guys expect to contend for a state title


The Milwaukie Mustangs advance to their third straight state tournament through an 83-58 rout of Marist

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Milwaukie senior Richard Ramsey caps off Milwaukies 83-58 playoff rout of Marist with a crowd-pleasing dunk. The 83 points was the most points any opponent had scored against the 12th-ranked Spartans this season.The Milwaukie Mustangs did themselves proud in last Friday’s Class 5A boys basketball playoff game with Midwest Conference runner-up Marist, handling the visiting Spartans 83-58 and advancing to the Class 5A State Tournament for the third consecutive season.

“[This win is] everything,” said Milwaukie senior Henry Morris. “It’s such an honor to play well and have our team play so well. I hope we can do well in the tournament.”

“This is my first time going to Eugene,” said Milwaukie senior Kendrick Bourne. “For me, it’s exciting! This game shows our chemistry is getting better, and I think we can go far [in the state tournament]. That’s what I believe.”

“This means a lot,” said Milwaukie senior Richard Ramsey. “It’s my first year ever going to Eugene. My senior year, doing something I’ve never done before in my life.”

“This is my second time [going to Eugene],” said Milwaukie sophomore Jazz Johnson. “I made it last year as a freshman at Benson.”

Informed that the sixth-ranked Mustangs are likely to face third-ranked Silverton, second-ranked Jefferson and top-ranked Churchill if they are going to compete for the state championship, Johnson said:

“The way we’ve been playing, I think we could beat all three of those teams. It doesn’t matter their rankings.”

“This means everything, to the team, to our city and out school, it’s huge for us!” said Milwaukie senior C.J. Hubbard. “But we’re not satisfied just getting down there. We’re going to go for the state championship. We want to bring back some hardware.”

“Any time you [make the state tournament] there three years in a row, you’re doing something right,” said Milwaukie coach Kyle Bracy. “I’ve got to give a lot of credit to the players. They’ve put in a lot of work. I know they’re not satisfied with just making it to Knight [Arena]. They want to do something when they get there....

“I do think we’re playing well. But when you get to the final eight, everyone’s good. We’re going to have to play our best basketball to bring home a trophy.”

The Mustangs have had plenty of success in the last two state tournaments. They beat Crescent Valley 58-47 for fourth place at state two years ago, and finished second last year, losing to Corvallis 63-51 in the Class 5A championship game.

The Northwest Oregon Conference champion Mustangs (18-6, 13-1) face third-ranked Silverton (21-4, 14-0) in the University of Oregon’s Knight Arena tonight at 6:30 in the quarterfinals. With a win, they’d likely meet second-ranked Jefferson (21-4, 12-0) Friday at 8:15 p.m. in the semifinals. And if they win that game, they’d likely meet top-ranked Churchill (21-4, 10-0) Saturday at 8:30 p.m. in the championship final.

The Mustangs have two losses in their last 17 games, to Wilsonville 57-46 in a home game with the Wildcats on Jan. 29, and to Silverton 67-56 in a Dec. 27 game at Silverton.

“We have a lot more experience playing together than we did when we played [Silverton] at the beginning of the year,” Johnson said. “We’ve played the whole season together, and now we know each other’s tendencies.”

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Milwaukie senior wing C.J. Hubbard (5) leaps high to block a shot by Marist senior guard Ben Fusek in Fridays state playoff game with the Spartans.“If we come together as a team and play as a team, I think we can [win a state championship],” Hubbard said. “When we play as a team, we can beat anybody.”

“It’s going to take our best game of the season [to beat Silverton],” Bracy said. “They’re a really good team and they have the best 5A player in the state in [6-2 point guard] Zach Gengler. He’s going to Portland State and he’s a legitimate Division I player.”

It took the Mustangs a quarter to get their game up to speed in last Friday’s 83-58 shellacking of Marist.

Marist first-team all-league wing Josh Harper, a 6-4 senior, attacked the basket with a vengeance in the first quarter, scoring nine of his team-high 21 points and keeping his team within two points, at 18-16, heading into the second quarter.

But rallying around the defensive play of Milwaukie 6-9 post Henry Morris and the aggressive offensive play of Tre’Shann Stone and Jazz Johnson, the Mustangs took charge in the second quarter.

Milwaukie went on a 15-0 run to start the second quarter, and when Stone scored a fast-break bucket with 3:15 left in the period, Milwaukie’s lead was 33-16 and the Mustangs had the game in the bag. Marist never got closer than 12 points the rest of the way.

Led by Stone (8 points) and Johnson (7 points), the Mustangs connected with 11-for-17 accuracy (.647)) from the field in the second quarter, while the Spartans went 2-for-14 (.143), tossing up bricks from long range.

Johnson made three fast-break outside shots — including a 3-pointer — to help ignite the second-quarter run.

“Henry did a great job [defending] Harper and making him shoot over a taller guy,” said Bracy. “And we did a good job defending their shooters and making their other guys do the shooting.”

Not one reserve scored a point for Marist, while the Mustangs had nine players contribute to their winning tally.

Stone paced the Mustangs in scoring, tallying 27 points on 12-for-21 shooting.

Johnson (15 points, 5 assists) and Hubbard (10 points) also scored in double figures. Hubbard was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field, with two 3-point baskets.

Morris (9 points) was an intimidating presence inside, rejecting four shots.

Tyler Spencer hauled down a team-high seven rebounds; Ramsey had three assists and five rebounds; Bourne (6 points) was 3-for-4 from the field; Aubrey Daschel-Lloyd sparked the offense with four assists.