But the Pioneers may have their hands full in attempting to go undefeated in arguably the toughest Class 6A league in the state
Celebrating their growth after playing six of the nations top teams in holiday tournaments, the Oregon City Pioneers were at the top of their game last week, as they made quick-work of girls basketball teams from Lincoln and West Salem in postseason mismatches.
The Pioneers upended Lincoln, which is now coached by former West Linn coach Glen Lee, winning 77-35 in a Jan. 10 game at Lincoln; and they humbled West Salem, winning 79-27 in a Jan. 6 game at West Salem.
The Pioneer led Lincoln 41-23 at halftime; and they surged to a 23-4 first-quarter advantage at West Salem.
I think were a solid group now, said Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf. We played six teams that were awfully good during the break. That tough schedule is paying off for us now....
Taylor Shaw is shooting the ball real well in the paint; Jessica Gertz and Cierra Walker are providing the outside scoring punch, and also getting to the basket; Toria Bradford is doing a good solid job delivering the ball. Shes averaging eight assists....
Gertz and Walker scored 20 and 18 points respectively in the Lincoln game, scoring all their points in the first half. Bradford sparked the offense with nine assists. Twelve Oregon City girls played and 10 scored.
Shaw scored a team-high 17 points at West Salem, going a perfect 8-for-8 from the field.
Walker played a strong game all-around, with 13 points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals.
Gertz (16 points) and Bradford (11 points, 5 assists) joined Shaw and Walker in double digits in scoring.
Although the states Class 6A coaches last week ranked Oregon City the second-best high school girls basketball team in the state, the Pioneers will have to work to go undefeated in league.
All of the leagues teams except Lakeridge (4-8) have winning records against nonleague opponents in preseason. Four of the leagues teams Oregon City (8-4), Clackamas (10-3), West Linn (10-2) and Canby (10-3) are ranked in the top 12 in the state, and those four teams have a combined winning percentage of 76 percent.
I think the Three Rivers League is tough from top to bottom, said Guelsdorf. But its no different from any other year. Girls basketball is a priority in the league. Weve got great coaches, great players and a great tradition. Its a shame that the Oregon School Activities Association doesnt see it that way and they are putting an end to that tradition....
The Pioneers begin their final season in the TRL this Friday at 6 p.m. at Lakeridge; they entertain 12th-ranked Canby at 6 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 24, in their first home game since Dec. 10.
A tough week
Last week was not a great week for Clackamas fourth-ranked girls basketball team.
The Cavaliers dropped a 51-47 barnburner to eighth-ranked Westview on Friday, after struggling to find the basket earlier in the week in a 47-31 win at Forest Grove.
The Wildcats went ahead for good late in the third quarter, hitting shots from the outside, while the Cavaliers concentrated on defending Jaime Nared, a 6-2 senior wing who has signed with Tennessee.
Still, the Cavaliers stayed close and made a game of it. It was still a two-point game, at 49-47, inside the final minute of play, when a Cavalier turnover allowed the Wildcats to salt the game away with free throws.
Despite Clackamas defense on her, Nared was huge for Westview, scoring 22 points and corralling a dozen rebounds. Shes been averaging 29 points and 15 rebounds on the 2013-14 season.
Led by 5-6 sophomore guard Ashley Scoggin (13 points and three 3-pointers), Westview went 7-for-14 from 3-point land.
Clackamas was led by Kaitlyn Reiner (11 points), Erin McDonald (11 points), Erica Pagano (10 points) and Peyton Carroll (8 points).
A bit sluggish after the holiday break, the Cavaliers rallied around Pagano to dispatch with Forest Grove 47-31 in the Jan. 6 game at Forest Grove.
Pagano was on fire, hitting 8-of-14 shots from the floor, including four 3-pointers. The 6-0 senior finished with a season- and game-high 20 points and a team-high seven rebounds.
They left her open at the top of the key and she knocked them down, said Lane. She had a great shooting night from the start. She hit three 3s in the first half.
Except for Pagano, the Cavaliers struggled to get their shots to drop. The other players on the team were a combined 10-of-34 (29 percent) from the field.
Azorr and Reiner had strong passing games, recording six and four assists respectively.
The Cavaliers forced 27 turnovers, but they also had 21 turnovers.
Azorr and Reiner headed up the defense, each with five steals. Like the Cavaliers, the Vikings struggled to find the basket, making only 10-of-40 (25 percent) shots from the floor.
It was only the third loss in 10 games for Forest Grove and it was the lowest scoring game of the season for the Vikings, who entered the contest averaging 57 points an outing.