OSAA tourney pits perennial foes
The Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A basketball tournaments are Wednesday through Saturday at the Chiles Center, and the fun starts with a scintillating quarterfinal round of boys games on Wednesday.
One of them is a rematch between Portland Interscholastic League rivals Jefferson and Grant at 6:30 p.m.
The other quarterfinals have top seed Lake Oswego against Oregon City, Central Catholic versus Jesuit, and Tigard vs. South Salem.
Jefferson is the No. 3 seed and Grant the No. 6 seed. The PIL co-champions will be meeting for the third time this season. The Generals (21-6) won 83-82 on Jan. 5, and the Democrats (22-5) won 73-66 on Jan. 31.
Jefferson and Grant have won the last two state titles. This will be the third year in a row that they have met in the tournament. Last season, Grant won a championship thriller in overtime.
The 6A girls quarterfinals are Thursday. Third-seeded Benson (23-4), the PIL champion, faces sixth-seeded Jesuit (21-5) in the 6:30 p.m. game.
The Techsters roll into the tournament winners of 18 in a row following a five-point loss to top seed and defending champion Southridge on Dec. 29. Benson returns the nucleus of the team that lost to Southridge in last season's state final, most of them seniors hoping to cap successful high school careers with the ultimate prize.
If they get past the Crusaders, the Techsters' semifinal foe will be second-seeded Tigard or seventh-seeded Sheldon.
• De La Salle North Catholic rolled to its second consecutive 3A boys basketball state championship last week, capping the season with a 58-45 win over Amity It was the fourth consecutive championship game for the Knights, who lost twice before winning it all in 2018.
De La Salle drew on that experience — and on a challenging early-season schedule — when the title was on the line against an Amity team that played above its No. 10 seeding.
De La Salle had a one-point lead early in the fourth quarter when senior Anthony Mosley scored twice to spark a key 8-0 run for the Knights, the top seed.
Having three starters from last year's champs and a seasoned senior class helped the Knights handle any crunch-time nerves.
"We've been a strong second-half team and a strong finishing team. In those moments, you just remind the kids that this is what we've prepared for," said De La Salle coach James Broadous III. "All those drills, all those things that we've done all year long, were preparing us for this moment. The kids were able to draw from that."
Senior Kadeem Nelson and junior George Sadi were unanimous all-tournament first-team selections at the Coos Bay tournament. Nelson, a 6-3 senior wing, led the tourney by averaging 19.3 points per game. Sadi, a 5-10 guard, was third at 16.3.
The Knights played a challenging nonleague slate that included four games against larger schools from Washington and wins over Westview and Sandy, teams that made the final 16 of the Oregon 6A playoffs.
De La Salle finished 25-4 and rolled to the Lewis & Clark League title. The Knights' only loss to an Oregon opponent was by five points to Western Christian of Salem, which on Saturday won the 2A title.
With seven seniors, De La Salle will lose significant experience and some size. But Broadous said the program can maintain its momentum. It helps that Sadi, a strong, versatile player who plays bigger than his height, will be back.
Sadi was the Lewis & Clark League player of the year and averaged 20.6 points for the season. He twice scored more than 40 points and two other times scored more than 30.
"He can score many different ways, and he's a tough defender as well," Broadous says. "He's a special player."
• A tremendous season closed with a disappointing final chapter for the Columbia Christian Knights as Western Christian turned the tables on the Portland school in the 2A championship game at Pendleton.
The Pioneers (29-1) held the Knights (28-3) to two points in the fourth quarter to pull away for the 61-48 win.
"Disappointing to not play even close to our best in the final game. But that's the way it goes sometimes," Columbia Christian coach Bart Valentine said.
Valentine credited Western Christian's full-court pressure for rattling his team and causing an uncharacteristic reaction from the Knights.
"They put a lot of pressure on you. They kind of took us out of our rhythm," Valentine said.
For Western Christian, the win avenged Columbia Christian's 65-61 victory in the 2018 state championship game. Valentine noted that the Pioneers' seniors were motivated to finish on top and played like it.
Columbia Christian had won its three state playoff games by 57, 30 and 40 points to reach the finals and had not often played from behind this season.
The Knights' only points of the fourth quarter came in the final minute, with Western up by 14.
Columbia Christian sophomores Ben Gregg and Elijah Munyan each were unanimous choices for the all-tournament first team. The 6-8 Gregg led the tournament in scoring (22.3 average) and rebounding (11.7).
"We'll be back," Valentine said.