As the Oregon 5A state tournament kicks off Tuesday at historic Gill Coliseum on the campus of Oregon State, we take a look at 5 Stories, 5 Stars, and 5 Sleepers to be aware of.
Every good state tournament is full of intriguing stories, highlights, & areas of interest and this year is no different. Here are 5 stories to keep an eye out for as the week unfolds.
- South Albany will make the 15 minute drive to Gill to play in the quarterfinals for the first time in school history. Standing in their way is Wilsonville the defending champs, led by future Beaver Zach Reichle. Can the 2018 guard tandem of Jake Costello and Jaden Guilford ride what’s sure to be an energized home crowd to one of the biggest upsets in state tournament history?
- Summit, the #4 seed has won a slew of state titles in recent years, including track, football, baseball, and more. To this point, they haven’t broken through in basketball, with just a handful of state tournament appearances to their name. With a likely move to 6A starting in the fall of 2018, the Storm’s chances to add the blue trophy for basketball are likely running out.
- Crescent Valley has won 17 games during their snow shortened schedule. The next fewest victory total in the final 8? It’s the 12-12 Parkrose Broncos, who had to win two road playoff games just to reach .500. However, with talented 2017 point guard and Montana State commit Isaac Bonton and recently healthy senior forward Will Likayi, the Broncos have as much talent as anyone still playing.
- Churchill head coach Kelly Bokn is attempting to join Wilsonville coach Chris Roche as coaches who have state titles at different levels in Oregon basketball. Roche won a then class 3A state title (would be 4A in today’s set up) in 2005 and added a class 5A crown last season. Bokn won the big school title while coaching at Redmond in 2003. With the dynamic senior duo of wing Lucas Wilson and 6’10 big man Spencer Hoffman, many coaches around the state like Churchill’s chances.
- So who wins this thing? Our money is on a Friday night title game match up between #1 Wilsonville and #2 Churchill. Our money is on Churchill to finally break through and bury some of their state tournament demons of recent years. Lucas Wilson gets just enough help from his teammates to lead his Lancers to a narrow state title game victory.
The best teams in the state usually have the best players and this year’s tournament is no different. In fact 3 of the top 5 players in our 2017 rankings are in the tournament. Here is a look at 5 stars playing in Corvallis this week and how they impact the game.
- Any list of the best players in the 5A tournament better start with 6’5 wing Zack Reichle of Wilsonville. The only in state player committed to a Power 5 conference school, the sweet shooting lefty can score in a variety of ways. He’s been here before as part of Wilsonville’s runner up 2015 team and 2016 state title team. That experience of being in the big moment, helps make the Wildcats a strong favorite.
- The #3 rated player in our 2017 rankings is also has a state title ring in his dresser, that being Parkrose point guard Isaac Bonton. Bonton was a starter on a very talented Columbia Christian team that won the 2014 1A state title, who transferred to Parkrose the following year and the rest is history. His ability to score in bunches and also set up his teammates make his Bronco squad a scary team despite their .500 record.
- Few would argue that our #5 ranked player Lucas Wilson of Churchill is the most athletic player in the state. The powerful 6’5 wing is an explosive threat who has slowly improved his shooting and mid range game. Great athletes have the ability to take over for short periods of time and if Wilson can get into the groove, the Lancers will be hard to beat. Wilson who holds multiple D1 football offers is still unsure of what sport he will play or what college he will attend in the fall.
- It’s hard to go unnoticed when your 6’10 and over 200 pounds and that’s the plight for Churchill senior post Spencer Hoffman. The Marist transfer has put together a tremendous senior campaign for the Lancers, securing D2 offers in the process and heavy prep school interest. No one in the final 8 has a post player close to his size, so if Churchill can effectively get him the ball close to the basket in position to score, opponents will have to quickly adjust their defensive game plans.
- Say the name Caden Smith to basketball fans in the western part of the state and you will likely get blank stares. Quietly though the 2017 guard from Pendleton has developed into one of the top players in his class. So much so that D2 St. Martins signed him prior to his senior season and consider themselves lucky to have locked him up so early. Smith does a little bit of everything for the Bucks and has the all around game that makes Pendleton a dangerous match up.
Who doesn’t love a good underdog story? The great state tournaments always have them! With that in mind, we’ve compiled a list of 5 sleepers, players that are a little bit off the radar of fans but could prove crucial to their teams’ success this week.
- 6’8 senior forward Will Likayi was a huge part of Parkrose’s run to the 2016 state tournament. His absence due to injury has been a huge reason why they struggled record wise and in conference play. No question that their playoff run the last week can be directly connected to Likayi’s return to the lineup. His size, athleticism, and skill level are a combo that few players in Oregon possess. If he plays well, expect the Broncos to make some noise.
- 6’2 wing Jonah Pemberton has provided whatever the Lasalle Falcons have needed all year. With scoring nights of over 40 points as well as playing lock down perimeter defense, Pemberton has emerged as one of the best players in 5A after spending his first three seasons at Lincoln. Lasalle will go as far as Pemberton can carry them and based on his 2016-17 season, that could be all the way to cutting down the nets on Friday night.
- 6’4 2018 wing Tariq Harris was a virtual unknown to Oregon basketball fans, coaches, and players at this time last season. Since moving from Florida last summer, he has quickly made his presence felt, leading Crescent Valley to a league title and being named player of the year in the process. The long and athletic Harris makes plays at both ends of the court for the Raiders. With Harris and a home crowd advantage, they become a dangerous team.
- Rarely is an athletic 6’4 wing who has committed to NAIA powerhouse OIT considered a sleeper. However with teammate Zach Reichle garnering a ton of the media attention, senior Harrison Steiger has sort of waited in the back ground. The standout football player provides lock down defense with the ability to guard multiple positions as well as being a versatile scorer capable of picking up the slack should Reichle have an off night.
- When his team needed him most, Summit forward Andy Jones came up big scoring 10 points in overtime of their late season win over arch rival Bend High, which also clinched the first league title in school history. Efforts like this earned the senior a spot on the all league first team and makes his deep Summit team an unknown and scary opponent.