Sports year's memorable moments
Like most years, 2017 was a mixed bag for local sports and sports teams.
The year had its highest of the highs and near misses, its share of impressive performances, and some curious detours and surprising developments.
A look back:
AT THE TOP
Under coach Mark Parsons, the Thorns captured the National Women's Soccer League championship. Portland was second in the regular-season standings with a 14-5-5 record. The Thorns defeated the top-seeded North Carolina Courage 1-0 on Oct. 14 at Orlando, Florida, for the title. Midfielder Lindsey Horan, who scored in the second half, was named the game's MVP. Adrianna Franch was voted NWSL goalkeeper of the year.
HIGH SCHOOL HIGHLIGHT
Jefferson boys basketball
The Democrats beat Clackamas 70-67 in the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A championship game on March 11 at Chiles Center. The Demos capped a 27-1 season in which their only loss came to Gonzaga College of Washington, D.C. Senior Geno West, junior Kamaka Hepa and sophomore Marcus Tsohonis of Jeff made the all-tournament team for coach Pat Strickland.
A TRIPLE CROWN
Oregon women's track and field/cross country
The University of Oregon women became the first program to claim the NCAA Division-I Triple Crown — winning national titles in cross country as well as indoor and outdoor track and field during the 2016-17 school year. The UO men and women swept the Pac-12 outdoor track meet for the ninth year in a row.
Oregon State baseball
The Beavers dominated the Pac-12 (27-3, six games ahead of runner-up Stanford) and went 56-6 overall — the best record in program history. The Beavs had the highest winning percentage (.903) of any team since Texas in 1982. Their 1.93 ERA was an OSU all-time best. They won twice at the College World Series before being ousted with back-to-back losses to LSU.
Sophomore second baseman Nick Madrigal was voted Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year by the conference coaches. Junior left-hander Luke Heimlich was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. Pat Casey was honored as coach of the year.
Oregon men's basketball
The Ducks repeated as Pac-12 champions and made it to the NCAA Final Four for the first time since they won the inaugural tourney in 1939. Oregon won a program-record 33 games, including 16 in a row. Forward Dillon Brooks was the Pac-12 men's basketball Player of the Year and earned All-American status. Jordan Bell was the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.
The Ducks didn't win the Pac-12 for the first time in five years, but they opened the season with 35 straight wins and got further than ever in the Women's College World Series, reacing the semifinals before falling to the eventual winner, Oklahoma.
Portland's Shalane Flanagan became the first women's winner of the New York City Marathon since 1977. Portland native Galen Rupp won the Chicago Marathon. And former UO distance ace Jordan Hasay took third in the Boston Marathon with the fastest debut time ever by a U.S. woman.
TREADING A NEW PATH
The University of Portland men's cross country team placed second at the NCAA Division I national championships, the best podium finish ever for coach Rob Conner's program.
ALMOST AN ENCORE
Oregon men's golf
After winning the 2016 NCAA championship, the Ducks had to rebuild, reload or both. They did so in surprising fashion, roaring to a match-play finals return with upsets of Vanderbilt and Oklahoma State before finishing second to No. 2-seeded Oklahoma.
Senior Wyndham Clark was the Pac-12 champion and Player of the Year. He also was picked as the D-I Player of the Year by Golfweek. Norman Xiong was voted Pac-12 Freshman of the Year and to the all-conference team. Casey Martin was named coach of the year in the conference for the second time and the nation's top coach by Golfweek.
BACK TO THE FUTURE
The return of Mike Johnston before the 2016-17 Western Hockey League season produced a better-than-expected season for the Portland Winterhawks — and a first-round playoff upset of Prince George. After leading the team with 94 points in the regular season, Cody Glass was drafted No. 6 overall — becoming the first draft pick in Vegas Golden Knights history. Defenseman Henri Jokiharju also was a first-round pick, by the Blackhawks who hosted the draft in Chicago.
FUN WHILE IT LASTED
The Portland Timbers were No. 1 in the MLS Western Conference regular season but — riddled by injuries, including Diego Chara's broken foot and Sebastian Blanco spilling boiling water on his foot — couldn't get past the Houston Dynamo in the first round of the playoffs.
Then, in a surprise decision, Caleb Porter parted ways with the Portland Timbers after five seasons that included twice finishing atop the West and winning the 2015 MLS Cup. The Timbers hired Giovanni Savarese, who guided the New York Cosmos to three titles in five seasons in the North American Soccer League.
NO. 2 IN THE WORLD
The Wheels of Justice all-star team, representing the Rose City Rollers, couldn't quite pull off a third consecutive Women's Flat Track Derby Association championship, but they placed second to Victorian, a team from Melbourne, Australia, in the tournament at Philadelphia.
Oregon, Oregon State women's basketball
Both teams were highly ranked. Oregon made the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2004-05, then reached the Sweet Sixteen for the first time ever. Guard Sabrina Ionescu was Pac-12 and national Freshman of the Year and joined freshman Duck Ruthy Hebard on the all-conference team. Oregon finished 23-14 and was ranked 16th.
Oregon State, which swept the Civil War series, won the Pac-12 regular-season crown. The Beavers returned to the NCAA Tourney and reached the second round before finishing 31-5, with a No. 9 coaches' national ranking. Guard Sydney Wiese set the Pac-12 record for career 3-pointers and was the league's Scholar-Athlete of the year for women's basketball.
Concordia women's soccer
The Cavaliers, coached by Grant Landy, became the first CU team to win a Great Northwest Athletic Conference regular-season title at the NCAA Division II level. They made it to the second round of the national tournament and finished as the No. 19-ranked team, going 16-4-1 (11-0-1 GNAC).
Diego Valeri, Portland
The Argentine midfielder ran away with the MLS player-of-the-year voting, after producing 21 goals and 11 assists, with seven game-winning goals
TAKING A BOW
Oregon's Raevyn Rogers won The Bowerman Award, which goes to the most outstanding college women's track and field athlete. Rogers' junior season inlcuded NCAA titles in the indoor and outdoor 800 and the anchor leg in the outdoor 4x400 relay that lifted the Ducks to the team title.
PREP TEAM TITLES
OSAA Class 6A champions, 2016-17
Jefferson boys basketball
Jesuit boys cross country
Jesuit girls cross country
Jesuit boys swimming
Jesuit boys golf
Jesuit boys tennis
Jesuit boys track and field
Class 4A-3A-2A-1A champions, 2016-17
Oregon Episcopal School boys tennis
Oregon Episcopal School girls tennis
Now you see him, now you don't — Willie Taggart came to Oregon to coach football, then left Oregon for Florida State to coach football. The Ducks, caught off guard, replaced him with offensive line coach Mario Cristobal, but were in disarray at the Las Vegas Bowl, losing 38-28 to Boise State to finish 7-6.
The Trail Blazers wound up eighth in the NBA Western Conference in 2016-17, with a 41-41 record, then fell to Golden State 4-0 in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Oregon Ducks' baseball team, with NCAA postseason aspirations, as usual, slumped to a 30-25 finish and were 12-18 (eighth) in the Pac-12.
The Portland State Vikings followed up a 3-8 football season with an 0-11 one.
Oregon State, coming off a big Civil War victory, was aiming for a bowl game in 2017, but after a 1-5 start (having to rally to nip winless Portland State), coach Gary Andersen walked away from the team, and cornerbacks coach Cory Hall was named interim coach for the rest of the season. After finishing 1-11, with a 69-10 loss at Oregon, the Beavers hired one of their former quarterbacks, Jonathan Smith, as head coach.
KEPT UP THE GOOD WORK
The Portland Pickles' second season of summer baseball continued to draw well and provide entertainment to fans at Walker Stadium in Southeast Portland's Lents Park.