No. 12 PILOT ROCK at No. 5 PORTLAND CHRISTIAN
Friday, 7 p.m. at Multnomah University in Portland
Each of these two teams won their district tournaments, but did so through very different means. Portland Christian, the top seed in the Northwest League, knocked off conference rival Riverdale in the championship match by double figures. Pilot Rock, on the other hand, had to edge past the top two teams in the Blue Mountain Conference on back-to-back days to win its title.
Coach Butch Wilson is hoping the Rockets have left their regular season-ending funk behind them with the district tournament triumph. Pilot Rock lost three of four games to end the season.
The Royals, a No. 3 seed in the state playoffs, won 23 games this season with a scary balance of scoring and defense. Portland Christian puts up a square 50 points per game while squashing opponents’ scoring down to just 31 points per game — the second-best point differential in Class 2A girls basketball this year.
Pilot Rock gives up a whole 10-spot more per game and could struggle to keep up with the Royals’ fast-moving offense.
The usual height advantage for the Rockets with 6-footer Jordan Jeppe in the middle will also likely disappear when Portland Christian’s Esther Stanisel steps on the floor. Stanisel also stands 6 feet tall, and is the most athletic of the team’s three players listed 5-foot-11 or taller.
The skinny — Portland Christian definitely has the upper hand in this one, especially on defense where it won two games this season while holding the opponent to single-digit scoring. Pilot Rock will need to keep it close early to wear down the Royals, who haven’t played in a close win since December, to have a shot at advancing.
No. 11 WESTON-McEWEN at No. 7 OAKLAND
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Oakland Oakers play a slowed down style of basketball that hinges on disciplined ball control and keeping the other team from getting comfortable. The Oakers allowed the fewest points per game of any Class 2A team this season at just 28.8 points. By design, Oakland doesn’t need to score much to win and averages fewer than 40 points per contest.
That style will clash with that of Weston-McEwen, the third-place team out of the Blue Mountain Conference. The TigerScots led the BMC in scoring this season and showed their explosiveness in the district tournament with a 20-plus point fourth quarter, marked by a full-court pass and layup at the buzzer to avoid elimination.
Still, in the battle of high-energy offenses and stubborn defenses, the D’ often gets the nod.
“Every possession is going to count a lot and we’ve got to find the seam in that zone,” Weston-McEwen coach Amber Doremus said. “We might have to learn to be patient a little more.”
Oakland, which finished second in the Mountain View Conference after a loss in the district championship game, has only lost to one team in its last 13 games. All three shortcomings came to MVC champs Riddle.
The skinny — This one could come down to the boards. If the Weston-McEwen rebounding corps allows too many second-chance possessions for Oakland, the Oakes could simply run the game down without allowing the TigerScots enough possessions. Weston-McEwen will need to take efficient shots when it gets the chance. There may not be as many as they’re used to seeing.
No. 10 PINE EAGLE at No. 6 IONE
Friday, 7 p.m.
The Ione Cardinals have the rare opportunity to start Pine Eagle’s season with a loss and also end it that way when these teams meet in the second round of the Class 1A state tournament this week. The Cardinals thumped the Spartans 51-35 at home in the Ione Basketball Bonanza on Dec. 2, but how much can a game played 12 weeks ago really explain about this matchup?
“Not too much, actually,” Ione coach Mike Garrett said. “We have just a little bit of understanding in that we have played them before.”
Both teams have undoubtedly changed since that game, and for Ione, it’s for the better. The Cardinals are flying high off an upset of previously undefeated Condon/Wheeler in the Big Sky Conference district tournament that earned the Cards a bye in the state playoffs. Garrett said his players have been reminding each other all week not to linger on the triumph over the Knights, drawing on a similar situation from last season for inspiration. The Cardinals lost to Nixyaawii in the district tournament finals and had a hard time moving past it, struggling in the state tournament then.
Ione brings an eight-game winning streak into the game with Pine Eagle, a hot team in its own right. The Spartans have won 10 of 12, with two close losses to Old Oregon League champs Powder Valley the only thing breaking up the success. They took second in their district tournament.
The two squads match up decently well on both offense and defense, with similar point production and prevention numbers.
The skinny — Ione looks like a team on a mission that gained a dangerous asset by beating Condon/Wheeler 51-49 last week: confidence. The Cardinals have the skills and drive to make a tournament run — as long as their heads don’t get in their own way first.
No. 4 CONDON/WHEELER at No. 7 COLUMBIA CHRISTIAN
Friday, 6 p.m.
The Condon/Wheeler Knights lost their top ranking in the state along with their first game to Ione last week, giving their path to the state tournament final site a few more bumps. Despite being the No. 4 team in Class A girls’ basketball and carrying a record with just one loss on it, the Knights must hit the road in the second round of the playoffs to face a district champion in Columbia Christian.
Columbia Christian — the other Knights in this equation — played the role of upsetter in the Valley 10 League, stealing a victory from top seed Damascus Christian in the district title game and guaranteeing a home game.
After losing to Ione Saturday, Condon/Wheeler came back out on Tuesday and wrecked Wallowa at home 64-35 in the first round. It was the most lopsided game of any of the eight first-rounders.
“As disappointed as we were (by the Ione loss), I think it’s just about the best thing that can happen that we turned around and played right away,” Condon/Wheeler coach Teresa Humphrey said.
Only three Class 1A schools did a better job at preventing points this season than Condon/Wheeler (31.9 ppg) and none of those teams were as prolific at getting the ball in the basket. At 58.3 points per game, the Knights were the second-highest scoring girls team.
The skinny — Don’t be fooled by Condon/Wheeler’s No. 2 seed in the playoff proceedings and thier role as the road team here. The Knights are still very much the favorite in this meeting and may be even more dangerous in the tournament now with something to prove.