Posted On: 02/26/18 3:06 AM
The 6A playoffs are just two days away and 32 teams still have a chance to advance to the Chiles Center. By this weekend, we’ll know who those eight teams will be. Here are my picks to reach the state tournament:
(Pictured: Garfield (WA) tips off against Jefferson in January.)
No. 1 Jefferson
The Democrats are not quite unbeatable, but they’re not going to fall to Liberty or Beaverton or Grants Pass. They should waltz past the first two rounds.
No. 8 Jesuit
The Crusaders may face two of the top players in the state on their way to the Chiles Center. First, they’ll host South Eugene and senior Jay Elmore, who averages 22 points. The Axe, who are also led by senior Will Graves (11 points, 4 assists) could prove to be a tricky first round game. Jesuit is then likely to host No. 9 North Medford and Kaison Faust, who averages 23 points and 8 rebounds per game. Faust is one of the best wings in the state, but Jesuit may have the recipe to defend him in 6-foot-6 athletic post Sam Handley. Expect Jesuit, led by the sharpshooting of Matt Lang, to reach the tournament.
No. 5 McNary
The Celtics will need to get by a potential upset in a first round game against No. 28 Sherwood. The Bowmen have a poor record, but have played plenty of tough games. Still, McNary should advance. They could then play another TRL team in Tualatin (alternatively, they could play Sheldon). The Timberwolves have a terrific scorer in Alexis Angeles, but McNary has the ability to defend him with 6-foot-4 Chandler Cavall. One of the most balanced teams in the state, McNary should keep their terrific season continuing past this weekend.
No. 4 Sprague
The Olympians should handle No. 29 Willamette and will then square off against the winner of Barlow and South Salem. Barlow might be under-seeded at No. 20 and South Salem (No. 13) has played Sprague tough a couple times this season. The Olympians had a surprising three-game losing streak recently, but should move past either team to advance to the Chiles Center. Both of their second round opponents have talented guards (Barlow sophomore Jesse White and South Salem junior Jaden Nielsen-Skinner), but neither team has a player who can stop Sprague’s Teagan Quitoriano.
No. 3 Southridge
Southridge is unlikely to have trouble advancing past No. 30 West Albany, but will then face a strong Roosevelt team or a talented Central Catholic team. Both are formidable opponents but the Skyhawks, a balanced team led by Filip Fullerton, should advance to the state tourney. They haven’t lost since January 5.
No. 6 Lake Oswego
The Lakers must first stop Westview, led by 6-foot-10 post Jack Poling (perhaps 6-foot-7 junior Fred Harding will play increased minutes for defensive purposes), but will then face Oregon City or Lincoln. The Pioneers, one of four teams with a share of the Mt. Hood Conference, would have a hard time with Lake Oswego. Lincoln has a better shot and that would be a compelling matchup: both the Cardinals and Lakers rely on several players. But Lake Oswego, the TRL’s champs, are playing great basketball. Expect them to reach the Chiles Center.
No. 10 West Salem
The Titans must first get past a sneaky No. 23 seed in Clackamas, which possesses two 6-foot-6 towers that West Salem will have trouble matching up with (Cole Turner, Dane Agost). But, they should still outscore the Cavaliers and are likely to face West Linn in a Battle of the Wests. The Lions are among the most talented teams in the state, but haven’t lived up to their potential this year. The key to stopping West Salem is slowing down Kyle Greeley, the leading scorer in 6A at 27 points per game. West Linn has Jalen Thompson, a terrific perimeter defender, but Greeley is stronger than Thompson. The West Salem star still likely get enough looks inside and hit enough mid-range jumpers to carry the Titans to the Chiles Center for the second straight season.
No. 2 Grant
Grant won’t face much of a challenge against No. 31 Sunset and will then face No. 18 Tigard or No. 15 McMinnville. Tigard might have a better chance against Grant than McMinnville, but neither of them likely has enough talent to knock off the Generals.