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Winterhawks likely to face No. 1 challenge; Lincoln athlete recognized; Chara does not disappoint; Ducks could go back to the top

If the Portland Winterhawks finish eighth in the Western Hockey League Western Conference — which seems likely — they will be the second of two wild-card playoff entries and face the team with the most points in the conference. 

As of now that would be the Everett Silvertips — though Prince George and Seattle also are possibilities entering the final week of the regular season.

Portland is 4-5 against Everett with one regular-season game remaining between them.

Portland was 1-2 against Prince George entering the final regular-season meeting against the Cougars on Wednesday.

The Hawks have split 10 games with Seattle so far. But the Thunderbirds, who visit Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, have won three in a row against Portland. Seattle is healthy and hot and pushing Everett for the U.S. Division title.

The playoffs begin March 24. This will be the first WHL postseason for nine Hawks rookies, and the first in a prominent role for several others. And Portland will need to win at least one game on the road in each round if it is to advance.

One reason for hope: The Winterhawks have scored the third-most goals in the West. If their offense — and fourth-best WHL power play — clicks during the playoffs, who knows what might happen?LEITGEB

Football winner

Brandon Leitgeb of Lincoln High was one of 16 prep players honored by and receiving scholarships from the National Football Foundation Oregon chapter at the 56th annual banquet, held Feb. 26 at the Jantzen Beach Red Lion.

Hard to believe?

In a shock to absolutely no one, Portland Timbers midfielder Diego Chara committed the first foul of the MLS season last Friday.

It took only 46 seconds for the feisty league leader in fouls the past two seasons (86 last year) to draw his first whistle in a 5-1 victory over expansion Minnesota United.

Notable, though, is that Chara had only one more foul and did not commit one after he picked up the first yellow card of the season in the 24th minute.

Ducks No. 1?

Even if its men's basketball team doesn't go all the way in the NCAA Tournament, the University of Oregon soon could have at least one national champion.

The U of O acrobatics and tumbling team recently pulled off a significant upset and may have served notice when the No. 2-ranked (out of 17 schools) Ducks recently beat their nemesis, No. 1 Baylor, 285.025-277.90 at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon and Baylor have been going at for it years, especially since Felecia Mulkey — who coached the Ducks to four national titles in five years — left in June 2014 for Waco, Texas, and to lead the rival Bears.

Baylor has since had Oregon's number — until two weeks ago, when the Ducks put it all together. Mulkey's Baylor teams are now 22-1.

Oregon coach Chelsea Shaw competed for Mulkey on two of the Ducks' national title squads.

UO's Krista Phillips, a 5-6 senior base from Murrieta, Calif., scored a perfect 10.00 in the open pass tumbling heat against Baylor and was named the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association player of the week.

The national championship meet is April 27-29 at Azusa, Calif.

Something to see

It's not till Aug. 31-Sept. 3, but we can hardly wait for the LPGA Cambia Portland Classic at Columbia Edgewater Country Club. We just hope the tournament gets a good turnout of pros who will be coming directly from the Canadian Pacific Women's Open in Ottawa (and, for some, the Solheim Cup Aug. 18-20 in Iowa) — because the LPGA has it going. Last week's event in Singapore featured a star-studded leaderboard, with Inbee Park prevailing on the final day over 54-hole leader Michelle Wie, two-time defending Portland champ Brooke Henderson and others.