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
The Milwaukie Mustangs did themselves proud in last Fridays 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. Its 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, its exciting! This game shows our chemistry is getting better, and I think we can go far [in the state tournament]. Thats what I believe.
This means a lot, said Milwaukie senior Richard Ramsey. Its my first year ever going to Eugene. My senior year, doing something Ive 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 weve been playing, I think we could beat all three of those teams. It doesnt matter their rankings.
This means everything, to the team, to our city and out school, its huge for us! said Milwaukie senior C.J. Hubbard. But were not satisfied just getting down there. Were 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, youre doing something right, said Milwaukie coach Kyle Bracy. Ive got to give a lot of credit to the players. Theyve put in a lot of work. I know theyre not satisfied with just making it to Knight [Arena]. They want to do something when they get there....
I do think were playing well. But when you get to the final eight, everyones good. Were 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 Oregons Knight Arena tonight at 6:30 in the quarterfinals. With a win, theyd likely meet second-ranked Jefferson (21-4, 12-0) Friday at 8:15 p.m. in the semifinals. And if they win that game, theyd 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. Weve played the whole season together, and now we know each others tendencies.
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.
Its going to take our best game of the season [to beat Silverton], Bracy said. Theyre a really good team and they have the best 5A player in the state in [6-2 point guard] Zach Gengler. Hes going to Portland State and hes a legitimate Division I player.
It took the Mustangs a quarter to get their game up to speed in last Fridays 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 TreShann 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, Milwaukies 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.