Oregon City senior guard Dalton Welch knew this day was coming — the final home game of his high school basketball career.
Welch and Oregon City's other five seniors — Andre Best, Carmon Brown, Jake Gettel, Lucas Hanson, and T.J. Warren — made it a Senior Night to remember, scoring a combined 52 points to lead the Pioneers to a 72-36 Three Rivers League blowout win Wednesday over the Lakeridge Pacers.
Welch finished with a game-high 16 points, Warren scored 15, Gettel and Hanson added seven each, Best had four, and Brown chipped in three to help send the Pioneers (13-10, 4-7 Three Rivers) to their straight win.
The Pioneers paid tribute to their seniors during pregame ceremonies and then went out and dominated the Pacers (5-17, 0-11) in the next-to-last of the regular season.
"It's pretty crazy to think about," Welch said. "All the time we put into that gym, and all the practices and hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, and now to think that was the last game that I might ever play on that court is mind-blowing, honestly.
"It was a fun game. I felt we played well as a team. Everyone was looking to make the extra pass and we played really well."
Oregon City jumped out to a 12-4 lead in the first quarter and then Alex Newkirk knocked down a pair of 3-pointers and Welch added another to help extend the lead to 30-16 at halftime.
The Pioneers then opened the second half on a 12-2 run that ended with Welch again connecting from long range to make it 42-18 with 4:18 remaining in the third quarter.
Oregon City's lead was 57-26 with 5:39 to play in the fourth quarter when Pioneers coach Aaron Newkirk pulled his five senior starters — Best, Gettel, Hanson, Warren, and Welch — and had them watch the rest of the game from the bench.
"I think we did exactly what we planned to do," Warren said. "Every time you come into a game, you've got to think, 'Just battle.' We came out, it's our Senior Night, we wanted to go have some fun, we played hard, and the scoreboard reflected that."
Lakeridge's Carson Mike finished with a team-high eight points, and Aaron Buck, Nick Holum, and Eric Struik added six each for the Pacers, who appear destined to go winless in league play for the second season in a row.
Holum, one of six seniors on the Lakeridge roster, gave the Pacers a "C" grade for Wednesday's performance.
"Not typical," Holum said. "We played pretty decently the whole game and then in the fourth quarter, the score kind of slipped away from us."
Lakeridge plays its final game Friday at Tualatin, while Oregon City travels to Tigard.
"I think we could definitley push the ceiling a little bit more, but I feel where we're at right now is good," Welch said. "We have a little bit of momentum going into Tigard, which will be another toiugh one, and then straight into the playoffs after that.
The Pioneers dropped one spot to No. 21 in the OSAA power rankings following Wednesday's win, but they could bump up depending on what happens Friday's against the No. 10 Tigers.
Oregon City will almost certainly open the playoffs on the road, and the only hope the Pioneers have for another home game would hinge on at least two first-round upsets on their side of the 32-team bracket.
Another home game appears highly unlikely, but stranger things have happened in the postseason.
"It's weird to think like that's the last time playing on this court, possibly.," Warren said. "We have a chance for another home game still, but that was a good way to go out. If that was the last one, it was a fun one."
LAKERIDGE 4 12 10 10 — 36
OREGON CITY 12 18 21 21 — 72
Lakeridge (36) — Carson Mike 8, Buck 6, Holum 6, Struik 6, Nelson 5, Wise 3, Sheehan 2, Kruse, Lafaye.
Oregon City (72) — Dalton Welch 16, Warren 15, Newkirk 11, Gettel 7, Hanson 7, Loeb 6, Best 4, Brown 3, Payne 2, Winkel 1, Ascencio.
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