Posted On: 03/2/18 4:32 PM
The 5A playoffs kick off tomorrow with first round games. Sixteen teams remain and eight of them will punch tickets to the state tournament in Corvallis. Here’s what to expect from each game:
No. 16 Sandy (11-14) at No. 1 Silverton (22-1)
The playoffs seemed unlikely for the Pioneers last month. They started the season 3-10 and 0-3 in league play. But they finished the season on a five game winning streak and, perhaps as impressively, nearly completed a comeback against No. 4 Wilsonville in early February, eventually falling 53-48. In that game, sophomore Colby Carson had a game-high 17 points. Sandy snuck into the playoffs by beating Hood River Valley in the play-in game and they’ll be rewarded by playing against the juggernaut Foxes. Led by Mid-Willamette player of the year Cade Roth, point guard David Gonzales and post Levi Nielsen, Silverton should run away with this one.
No. 9 Bend (17-7) at No. 8 Churchill (18-7)
Churchill, last year’s 5A runner-up, has reached the title game three times in the last five years. They’re not quite as good this season, but it’s tough to count them out, even at home. In their play-in win against Corvallis, they were led by sophomore Silas Bennion‘s 22 points. 6-foot-7 junior Jonathan Nchekwube had two dunks in the game. The Lava Bears are junior-dominated. Like, super junior-dominated. Their lone senior comes off the bench and the have nine juniors on the roster, including Brian Warinner, who averages 16 points, 10 rebounds, 4 assists, and center Bryan Brown.
No. 12 La Salle Prep (14-10) at No. 5 Springfield (18-6)
Both teams finished second in their respective leagues, but the Millers should have no trouble dispatching the Falcons. The Midwestern League is simply much tougher competition. Springfield, led by 6-foot-6 junior post Zach Brown, are the only team to beat No. 2 Crater this season and project to make the state tournament. La Salle Prep has a 6-foot-9 post in senior Tabor Bosco and a sharpshooter in junior Jace Norton, but they are unlikely to pull off the upset.
No. 13 Central (16-9) at No. 4 Wilsonville (18-6)
The NWOC’s best will host Central, the Mid-Willamette’s fourth place team. Wilsonville is a well-oiled machine led by junior point guard Jack Roche, the son of coach Chris Roche, and quick senior Caleb Larsen. The Wildcats haven’t lost since New Years Day and ran through the NWOC, winning every game by at least 8 points.
No. 14 Pendleton at No. 3 Thurston
The Buckaroos are led by 6-foot-4 junior Tyler Newsome, but they’ll have a tough task at Thurston. Led by athletic guard Isaac Lange, the Colts are one of the most talented teams in 5A. Although they lost five games in the challenging Midwestern League, Thurston is still a legitimate state title contender. With Lange and 6-foot-7 junior post Mason Miller, the Colts will be too much for Pendleton.
No. 11 Crescent Valley (15-10) at No. 6 Mountain View (18-5)
This is a star-studded rematch, as Mountain View topped Crescent Valley 64-45 in December, although that was a long time ago. CV will be led by first team all-Mid-Willamette honoree and last year’s conference player of the year Tariq Harris, while Mountain View sports 6-foot-7 Matt Van Tassell. The key for CV will be stopping him. With point guard Chase McClain, Mountain View will be too tough to stop.
Pick: Mountain View
No. 10 Summit (13-7) at No. 7 South Albany (19-5)
Four of South Alabny’s five losses have come to the top three 5A seeds: Silverton, Crater and Thurston. They’ve handled their other game and should be favored to beat Summit. The Mid-Willamette League runner-ups are led by Jake Costello, who does it all, and guard Jaden Guilford.
Pick: South Albany
No. 15 Hermiston (12-11) at No. 2 Crater (23-1)
Crater is having a historically good season and they’re likely to punch a ticket to the state tournament with a win over Hermiston. The Comets are led by Kiefer Edwards, probably the best dunker in 5A, the Vranes brothers (Mason and Jayden) and talented, long freshman Nathan Bittle.
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