Oregon City wins Interstate Shootout opener in a rout over Jefferson
Oregon City's Katie Kathan was all by herself as she ran to spot behind the 3-point line on the left wing and directly in front of the Jefferson bench.
"Who's here!? Who's HERE!?" Jefferson coach Andre Lawrence hollered, wondering which of the Democrats was supposed to be guarding Kathan.
Before any of the Jefferson players could respond, the ball made its way to Kathan, who buried the wide-open trey and then heard a whistle.
Lawrence hoped to staunch the bleeding less than two minutes into Wednesday's opening game of the 2018 Nike Interstate Shootout girls' basketball tournament at Lake Oswego High School, but it was already too late.
This one was a mismatch from start to finish as the Pioneers did almost anything they wanted to do, even after all the starters took a seat on the bench midway through the third quarter.
Final score: Oregon City 88, Jefferson 28.
Oregon City's Brooke Bullock scored 17 of her game-high 19 points in the first half and four other players finished in double figures for the Pioneers (4-3), who won for the third time in the last four games.
"A game like that is good for us no matter what the score is," said Kathan, the junior shooting guard who finished with 16 points. "I mean, scoring is good and winning is good, but we just focused on working hard every possession, even if it didn't end with a bucket."
Oregon City raced out to leads of 34-8 at the end of the first quarter, 51-15 at halftime, and 75-19 at the end of the third quarter.
"We needed one where we just came out hard from the beginning and we were able to finish all the way through," Pioneers coach Tiffani Traver said. "Not that Jefferson isn't a tough team, but we've had a really tough schedule to open the season and it was good for us to get back to working some kinks out."
The Pioneers weren't exactly sure what to expect against the Democrats (3-3). They'd watched some video of recent Jefferson games, but most it showed teams playing a half-court game that relied on some type of zone defense, so there was no telling how the Democrats would react to Oregon City's full-court press and man-to-man defense.
"We just came ready to play," Traver said.
The Pioneers rocked Jefferson at both ends of the court to start the game, knocking down 11 of their first 12 shots from the field with three 3-pointers to take a 25-2 lead in the first four minutes.
At the other end, the Democrats scored on only one of their first 11 possessions, going 1 for 4 from the field with seven turnovers.
Oregon City piled on after that, easing into a second-round match-up Thursday against Westview, a 62-37 winner over Lincoln.
"We shot great this game, which hopefully we can continue to do throughout the tournament," Traver said. "We've been a little up and down, and part of that is just because we're young.
"A lot of these players are not used to playing a ton of minutes and playing at the varsity level. That's new to a lot of them, so that leads to some inconsistent shooting, but hopefully, this will help us there."
Sounds good, but what do coaches talk about at halftime when they're leading 55-15?
"It's hard sometimes, but in games like this, we don't want to forget the little things," Traver said. "So we talked about boxing out and we talked about our guards crashing every single time offensively because those things are sometimes easy to forget.
"We need to practice it and get in the habit of doing the right thing every time."
Oregon City also has seen growth in the leadership department. Junior point guard Tyra Bradford and Bullock, the senior combo guard, have always played with a take-charge attitude, but now the Pioneers' other three starters -- Emily Fortin, Emma Welch, and Kathan -- are playing with more confidence now than they showed when the season started a month ago.
The Pioneers' second unit is stepping up, too. Against Jefferson, sophomore guard Mia Martineau scored 12 points off the bench, and senior post Grace Pedersen added 10 points.
"We're playing alright," Kathan said. "We've had some rough match-ups against some tough teams, but we're just learning from them and getting better.
"We're still young, but everyone is getting better and it's really cool to see."
The Pioneers enjoyed giving the bench players significant playing time while resting the starters in the second half against Jefferson, knowing that Wednesday was the first of four games in four days.
"I think this game was great for everyone because it got everyone loose," Traver said. "I mean, playing the day after Christmas isn't easy, especially an 11 a.m. start when we're used to practicing at 3 p.m. and playing at 6 p.m. or 7 p.m.
"So, to be up early after a holiday, we needed one like that where we could just kind of get our legs back under us and get in the flow again."