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Posted On: 03/6/18 5:54 PM
The 5A state tournament gets off to a start on Wednesday in the hallowed confines of Gill Coliseum on the campus of Oregon State. We take a look at the opening match ups and some of the players who could play a key role in their teams success this week. Season records for each team are listed as well as records against teams that are in the final 8.
#8 Churchill (19-7; 1-6) vs #1 Silverton (23-1; 4-0)
The Lancers who have been a regular at the 5A state tournament, without ever hoisting the blue trophy, advanced to Gill with a big win over a junior laden Bend team. Churchill is lead by a pair of new faces in sophomore guard Silas Bennion and junior forward Jonathon Nchekwuke, a transfer from 2A Oakridge. Silverton, the champion of the Mid Willamette League feature the talented trio of senior wing Cade Roth, the league POY, junior forward Levi Nielsen, and sophomore guard David Gonzales. The Foxes are lead by 1st year head coach Jaime Mccarty who is back on the sidelines after a 10 year break following a successful run at 4A Stayton.
Prep Hoops Prediction: Both teams are athletic and well coached. Churchill played in the best league in the state and is used to playing high level teams on a regular basis. Silverton may have a slight edge in terms of skill level and depth and in the end, we think that will be enough for the Silver Foxes to pull away late for the victory.
#5 Springfield (19-6; 3-4) vs #4 Wilsonville (19-6; 1-0)
Springfield which survived the gauntlet known as the Midwestern League with a second place finish, arrive in Corvallis behind the play of rapidly improving junior post Zach Brown. The 6’6 Brown has shown an offensive game to go along with his rebounding and shot blocking prowess. Wilsonville, the defending state champions, relies on the steady play of junior Jack Roche, the coaches’ son and the play of a host of solid contributors including senior guard Caleb Larsen & sophomore forward Dakota Reber.
Prep Hoops Prediction: No one does a better job of preparing their team than Wilsonville’s Chris Roche. Give him teams a few days to get ready & the Wildcats are very good at taking away teams’ best options. The Wildcats aren’t nearly as battle tested as Springfield but our guess is that they find a way to win a game that goes down to the wire.
#6 Mountain View (19-5; 0-1) vs #3 Thurston (19-6; 5-3)
Mt. View comes over the mountain with limited experience playing teams still alive in the tournament and matches up with Thurston, who earned the 3rd seed despite a third play finish in their league. The Cougars are lead by 6’7 senior post Matt Van Tassel who has committed to play at NAIA power OIT. The team from Bend also feature an emerging star in 6’2 junior guard Chase McClain who also garnered all league honors. The Colts from Springfield feature the talented junior duo of 6’6 post Mason Miller and electric 6’2 guard Isiah Lange.
Prep Hoops Prediction: Mt. View comes in to the tournament, having rolled through the Intermountain Conference, while Thurston battle through some up & down play to finish 3rd in the loaded Midwestern League. The big guy match up between Van Tassel and Miller should be key to the outcome, but assuming they balance each other out, we look for the athleticism of Lange to be enough for the Colts to advance to the semifinals.
#7 South Albany (20-5; 0-4) vs #2 Crater (24-1; 6-1)
The Rebels return to the state tournament for the second consecutive year behind the play of senior wing Jake Costello and senior point guard Jaden Guilford. The pair have lead South Albany to the most successful two year run in school history. However, they have struggled against state tournament caliber competition, getting soundly defeated twice by Silverton and falling to Crater 77-58 in a preseason contest. The Comets from southern Oregon enter the tourney on a roll, having emerged as the champion of the toughest league in 5A. Crater features a potent offense, including 6’5 senior forward Kiefer Edwards, Oregon’s unofficial leader in dunks this season, 6’2 senior wing Mason Vranes, 5’11 sophomore point Jayden Vranes, and 6’8 frosh post Nate Bittle. All four players earned all league recognition of some type.
Prep Hoops Prediction: Look for Crater to shake off some first game jitters, get their bearings offensively and roll to a convincing victory.
The Best Of:
Best Player Cade Roth Springfield
Best Shooter Mason Vranes Crater
Best Defender Zach Brown Springfield
Best Glue Guy Levi Nielsen Silverton
Best Underclassmen Nate Biffle Crater
Best League Midwestern League (4 teams in the final 8)
Best Hair Isiah Lange