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Eastside teams chase Central Catholic


by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Gresham guard Nico Estibar looks for an open teammate during an early-season win over Aloha. The Gophers have seven nonleague wins already this season, surpassing their total of six for all of last season.

Central Catholic remains the team to beat in Mount Hood Conference boys basketball this season after racing to the league title last season with a 22-6 record, which saw the Rams play in the Rose Garden for the 6A state tournament.

The Rams are off to an 8-3 start this year with two of their losses coming against top-ranked Lake Oswego, while the other was a loss to West Linn in a rematch of last year’s state quarterfinals.

Following are previews of the five East County schools …


The Bruins were the only league team to hand Central Catholic a loss last season, winning 66-64 at mid-season, and Barlow appears to be the most likely contender for a similar upset this winter.

The Bruins are off to a 9-2 start with their only losses coming to Jefferson, the top-ranked team at 5A, and to Service High, a powerhouse out of Alaska. Out of its nine wins, eight have come by double-digit margins — the most impressive being a 55-40 win over No. 8 Sunset.

Leading the way in the backcourt are Kody Kennedy and Duncan Otis, while Jake Ellis is a threat around the 3-point arc, as well.

“Offensively, we shoot the ball well from the perimeter,” Barlow coach Tom Johnson said. “We’re not overly physical, but this is a senior-dominated team and they feel like it is their time.”

Center Cody Powers is the team’s main option under the basket and a force on the boards.

“He gives us an inside presence, and he’s really worked to become a better passer,” Johnson said.

For recaps of the other East County schools pick up our Tuesday, Jan. 8, print edition.