The shorthanded Oregon City Pioneers continue impressive

Three Rivers League boys basketball teams fared well in the Class 6A high school boys basketball state playoff play-in round on Saturday.

The Oregon City Pioneers rallied around their up-tempo game and sharp free throw shooting to dispatch with Centennial (60-54), while Lakeridge topped Newberg 66-62 in overtime, and Canby took care of business with Sprague (55-43).

All six TRL teams are in tonight’s first round of the state playoffs.

Three Rivers League champion and top-ranked West Linn (20-4, 10-0) hosts 37th-ranked Century (8-17); second-ranked Clackamas (20-4, 8-2), which finished second to West Linn in the TRL, hosts 34th-ranked Aloha (13-12).

Twenty-second-ranked Oregon City (13-11, 3-7) plays at 11th-ranked McMinnville (18-5); 19th-ranked Lake Oswego (12-11, 4-6) plays at 15th-ranked Lincoln (14-11); 18th-ranked Lakeridge (17-8, 4-6) plays at No. 16 Grant; and 26th-ranked Canby (9-14, 1-9) plays at seventh-ranked Sheldon (18-6).

“We’ve got a good draw,” said Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk. “We’re real proud of the kids for what they’ve accomplished so far [considering the loss of two key players to injury] and we still think that we can make that state tournament....

“We’ve had three common opponents with McMinnville and had similar results.... If we beat McMinnville we’ll probably face Sunset. We met them in mid-December and lost by four, and that was without Tre [injured player Trevon Bradford]....”

It wasn’t until the third quarter that the Pioneers took control of Saturday’s game with Centennial. The score was tied at 25-all at halftime.

“They start four guards and [in the third quarter] we did a better job of keeping their guards in front of us,” said Newkirk. “Plus we forced the tempo, played more aggressively on offense, and got to the free throw line.”

Austin DeWitz played a pivotal role in breaking the game open, scoring 15 of his team-high 20 points in the second half, as the Pioneers built a 42-33 third-quarter advantage, and then made their free throws down the stretch.

DeWitz was on fire, hitting 6-of-9 shots from the floor, including three 3-pointers.

Brad Martin (13 points) was 8-of-8 from the charity stripe and Briggs Young (13 points, 4 assists) made 6-of-6 free throws.

Martin ruled near the basket, hauling down 10 rebounds.

Dezmond Stoudamire carried most of the load for the Eagles, scoring baskets inside and out, for a game-high 28 points.

Newkirk said of tonight’s match-up with the McMinnville Grizzlies: “It’s a very winnable game. The toughest challenge won’t be defense. We play good defense. But without [injured players] Hunter Knighton and Trevon [Bradford] we’ve been inconsistent on offense. We’ve got to stretch out their defense and find ways to score....

“We’ve got to push the pace and make their big kid [6-7 post Vince Boumann] run. And we have to make [6-3 wing Gage] Gubrud work for every shot.”

Pioneers get up

for their rivals

The upstart Oregon City Pioneers gave their home fans an indication of good things to come in last week’s Three Rivers League final with West Linn.

The Pioneers lost the game to the top-ranked Lions 68-48, but they had the Lions on the ropes for a half.

The Pioneers forged an early lead and it wasn’t until the second half that the Lions turned hot from the field and rallied in front for the win.

Brad Martin’s layup off a crisp pass from Austin DeWitz put the Pioneers up 17-12 at the end of the first period; and Chris Mengis’ layup off a pass from DeWitz made it 25-17 late in the second period. Oregon City led 25-19 at the half.

West Linn hit 11 straight shots from the floor and 5-of-7 free throws during a 7-1/2 minute stretch that began three minutes into the third quarter to take control.

Still, the Pioneers battled, and it wasn’t until Elijah Grant scored a layup with 1:35 remaining in the third quarter that the Lions went up for good, at 37-35.

West Linn led 39-36 heading into the final period and the Pioneers were their own worst innings in the fourth stanza, when they made only 5-of-17 shots from the floor. West Linn hit five 3-pointers in the final period to make the game appear a lot more lopsided than it was.

“Oregon City played really well and we came out flat,” said West Linn senior leader Ryan Shearmire. “People think there’s a big difference between the top teams in our league and the bottom teams in our league, but there isn’t. Oregon City’s a good team and they played well.”

Shearmire explained the difference in his squad’s inspired play in the second half: “We talked at halftime about playing at our tempo and we came out with more intensity [in the second half].”

While the Lions found the mark on only 7-of-24 shots from the floor in the first half, they were 14-of-24 from the field in the second half, with six 3-pointers, scored by five different players.

Shearmire (17 points) and Payton Pritchard (17 points) paced the Lions in scoring.

Martin (16 points, three 3-pointers) was the only player in double digit scoring for Oregon City.

It was the fifteenth straight win for the Lions (20-4, 10-0), who finished first in the Three Rivers League standings, two games up on Clackamas (20-4, 8-2).

Oregon City finished 3-7 in league with the loss.

Only one other Oregon team has been ahead of the Lions at halftime this season. The Lions trailed Jefferson 33-30 at halftime in their second game of the 2013-14 season, a 75-66 Lion loss. Since that game the Lions have gone undefeated in games with opponents from Oregon.


finish strong

Clackamas’ boys basketball team was in charge nearly all the way, as the Cavaliers closed out their Three Rivers League season with a 68-53 win at Canby on Feb. 25.

The Cavaliers led 29-21 at halftime and 56-34 heading into the final period.

Reggie Oliver scored 27 points to lead the Cougars, but it wasn’t enough to keep up with a balanced Cavalier attack, led by Markus Golder (19 points), Keaton Bankofier (19 points) and David Reese (12 points).

Clackamas (20-4, 8-2) finished the regular season second only to top-ranked and defending state champion West Linn (20-4, 10-0) in the TRL standings.

The Cavaliers enter the Class 6A state playoffs ranked second only to West Linn in the OSAA RPI rankings.

They lost twice to West Linn (63-43 and 81-61) in league play. Other than that, their only losses during the regular season were in a Dec. 20 nailbiter at Barlow (64-63) and on Dec. 27, in a 71-31 loss to nationally-ranked Whitney Young in the Les Schwab Invitational.

Clackamas hosts 34th-ranked Aloha (13-12) tonight. With a win, the Cavaliers would host 19th-ranked Lake Oswego (12-11) or 15th-ranked Lincoln (14-11) in a second-round state playoff game on Saturday, March 8, with the winner advancing to the state tournament.

The Cavaliers beat Lake Oswego in two close games during the league season, 55-54 and 43-42.

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