The Cardinals led 34-32 with 5:05 to play when Bryce Sloan hit a 3-pointer to spark a 13-2 run that put Wednesday's game away

REVIEW/NEWS PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Lincoln's Daniel Kovalev looks to pass the ball under pressure from Oregon City's Teron Bradford during the second half of Wednesday's OSAA 6A boys' basketball playoff game.One of Oregon City's better defensive efforts of the season wasn't enough for the Pioneers to pull off the upset against No. 11 Lincoln on Wednesday night.

Lincoln's Bryce Sloan scored 10 of his team-high 14 points in the fourth quarter and keyed a pivotal 13-2 run in the final six minutes that carried the Cardinals to a 51-45 home win over the Pioneers in the opening round of the OSAA Class 6A boys' basketball playoffs.

Daniel Kovalev and Addison Phillips added 12 points each to help send the Cardinals (16-9) into Saturday's second round against No. 6 Lake Oswego (20-5).

Oregon City's Teron Bradford led all scorers with 28 points, but the Pioneers (17-8) struggled to find other ways to score and saw their season end in the opening round for the second year in a row.

"We knew coming into it that Lincoln was a good team and had a lot of returning players who had been in this position before," Bradford said. "I knew it was going to be a tough one, especially on the road, but I thought our guys fought to the very end.

"You couldn't ask for anything more. We were doing everything we could."

Oregon City trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, but twice cut the lead to two points in the second half -- the second time when Bradford hit two free throws to cut Lincoln's lead to 34-32 with 5:35 to play.

Just when it looked as if the Mt. Hood Conference co-champions might break Lincoln's spirit, Sloan, the Cardinals' 6-4 senior forward, came out of a timeout and drilled a 3-pointer from the left wing that made it 37-32 with 5:05 remaining.

Oregon City turned around and lost the ball under pressure near midcourt, and then the Cardinals worked more than a minute off the clock before Sloan hit a pull-up jumper from the right of the lane that pushed the lead to 39-32 with 3:37 left.

The Pioneers came up empty on five of their next possessions and Lincoln added to its lead with a Kovalev free throw, an Aidan Anastas lay-in, a Kovalev transition basket, and an Anastas free throw that made it 45-34 with 1:25 to play.

All that was left after that was for the Cardinals to make some free throws and for the Pioneers to knock down three late treys.

"It was really tough," said Oregon City post Tyler Quinsey, one of the Pioneers' five seniors. "We just couldn't get the ball to go in the basket. It just happens sometimes. It's part of basketball.

"It was good, solid match-up. I think that game could have gone either way. I think we definitely could have won that game."

Lincoln had a significant height advantage with a starting lineup that went 6-6, 6-5, 6-4, 6-3 and 6-0, but Oregon City had faced similar match-up issues throughout the season, so it wasn't as if the Pioneers weren't up for the challenge.

Oregon City held its own in the rebound department early on, and the Pioneers kept the Cardinals off balance with a number of different defensive looks, starting the game in a man-to-man and then switching to a zone before going back to man-to-man.

"That's a really good Oregon City team that's well-coached defensively," Lincoln coach Pat Adelman said. "We knew going into it that it was going to be a grind, and it turned into that, possession by possession. They were physical and they didn't quit.

"We got up 10 and Oregon City kept coming. But you've got to give our guys some credit. They busted their tails, and then when Oregon City got the lead down to two, our guys stayed together and stayed focused. I'm glad that game's over."

Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk said his team did almost everything it wanted to do defensively.

"We wanted to keep the score under 52 -- we put that number on the board in the locker room before the game -- and Lincoln scored 51, so defensively our kids played their guts out," Newkirk said. "We struggled in the first half with turning the ball over.

"There was a lot of possession where we did not get a shot. That was the reason we didn't score more points, and we haven't had that problem this year as much as we did in that first half."

One particularly poor stretch was in the first three minutes of the second quarter when the Pioneers had four consecutive possession that ended with turnovers -- one on an offensive foul, one on an errant pass, and two when they mishandled the ball.

At the same time, they stayed in the game.

"Our goal was to come here and give ourselves a chance to win," Newkirk said. "It was a two-point game with six minutes left, so what can you say? Our kids are league champions and I'm really proud of them for that. They exceeded expectations.

"Our seniors were tremendous and they're the nicest group of kids and the most enjoyable group of kids I've ever coached. It was an amazing run. That's why it's hard for it to be over because these guys have such great relationships."

Bradford, the senior guard, scored 15 of his 28 points in the first half and finished the game going 9 for 17 from the field, including 2 for 6 from 3-point range. He also went 8 for 8 at the free-throw line

Jake Gettel finished with five points and Corban Remsburg had four for the Pioneers, who as a team shot 39 percent (16 for 41) from the field and 31.3 percent (5 for 16) from beyond the arc.

"I think we had a great, amazing year," Quinsey said. "We did a lot of things nobody would have expected us to do. We tied for a league championship and we haven't done that in years. So, we're really happy with what we accomplished this season."

OREGON CITY 10 10 10 15 -- 45

LINCOLN 15 10 9 17 -- 51

Oregon City (45) -- Teron Bradford 28, Gettel 5, Remsburg 4, Talley 3, Pittam 3, Sheldon 2, Quinsey, Curtiss, Thomspon.

Lincoln (51) -- Bryce Sloan 14, Phillips 12, Kovalev 12, Butler 5, Anastas 5, Weissflog 3, Abbruzzese, Barker, Galash, Phillipi.

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