Posted On: 03/3/18 3:11 PM

Today is the busiest and most exciting day for prep basketball fans in our great state.  4A-6A boys’ teams are competing for a spot in their respective state tournaments, while class 1A-3A are down to their final day where teams battle it out for trophy placement and all tournament recognition.  We take a look at the title game match ups for the smaller classifications.

1A Match Up

The small school state title game takes place in Baker City, where #1 ranked Pacific takes on #7 ranked Prairie City.  The Pirates have looked impressive in their quest for the first state title in school history, while the Panthers pulled the upset of the tourney, 68-53 over two time defending champ Sherman County, as the strive for the first title in 25 years.  Pacific has been lead by the inside duo of 6’8 post John Keeler and 6’4 forward Jack Lehnerr.  Keeler has averaged 17.5 points & 11.5 rebounds so far while shooting 60% from the field.  Lehnerr has kicked in 13 points and 10 boards a game.  Prairie City has been lead by the hot shooting of 5’8 point guard Dorann Wilson, who has put up back to back 30+ point games (31 & 33) while shooting 53% from the field and an amazing 59% from deep.

Prep Hoops Prediction:  Pacific has been the class of 1A basketball all season, including playing up (& well) against playoff caliber teams from bigger classes.  Prairie City was a bit of an unknown coming in to the tournament, but has caught fire behind the play of the electric Wilson.  While Wilson will be a match up issue for Pacific, we are confident that head coach Ben Stallard will come up with a game plan to keep him in check.  On the other end of the floor, we don’t see the Panthers having answer for Keeler and anticipate Pacific pulling away late and claiming the first blue trophy in school history.

2A Match Up

The OSAA ranking system was validated in the 2A division as #1 ranked Western Mennonite and #2 ranked Columbia Christian both travel around four hours east to Pendleton to battle for the state title.  Both teams have had two relatively easy victories to get here and should be rested up and ready to put their best foot forward tonight.  Each team is lead by a standout underclassman that have dominated thus far.  For Western, sophomore wing Payton Richardson has averaged a double double of 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds so far.  Teammates Keaton Hull and Johnny Williams have both chipped in double figure scoring nights.  For the Knights, 6’7 freshman forward Ben Gregg has lived up to his future D1 reputation, averaging 22 points and 16 rebounds in two CC wins.  Guard Isiah Mariscal has also chipped in two quality scoring games for the young group from southeast Portland, who is only 4 years removed from winning a 1A state title.

Prep Hoops Prediction:  We except these two teams to put on a show for folks in attendance.  Both of these teams are coached by highly successful, well respected veteran officials, who have each won a state title previously.  In the end, we like the depth of Western Mennonite and their ability to get the game to the pace that they prefer to prevail over Columbia in a hard fought close to the end type of game.

3A Match Up

All season long, Dayton and Delasalle have stood above the rest as the teams that would likely meet in the state title game.  A Christmas time match up that saw Delasalle come out with a 72-63 victory did little to dampen those expectations.  The top ranked Knights ran the table (16-0) in a very deep Lewis & Clark league and have defeated Irrigon and Blanchet Catholic to get to this point.  They are lead by league MVP Emannuel Reilly, a 6’4 forward who is an athletic match up problem for most teams at this level.  Reilly has averaged 15.5 points and 8.5 rebounds per game in Coos Bay.  Another key contributor is 6’3  junior wing Kadeem Nelson, a dangerous outside shooter who has kicked in 10.5 a game.  Those numbers aren’t overwhelming, but when you consider the fact that Delasalle regularly plays 10 guys, the per minute averages are on par with the best players in the state.  #2 ranked Dayton meanwhile has defeated Oregon Episcopal and league rival Santiam Christian to reach the title game.  The Pirates are the top seed from the loaded West Valley League and have been lead in the tournament by 6’3 senior wing Tanner Lewis.  Lewis has lead Dayton with 20 points a game in their two victories and has gotten significant help from 5’7 junior point guard Braden Nowlin who has kicked in 13 a game.

Prep Hoops Prediction: Delasalle features a relentless style that is designed to wear down opponents over the course of 32 minutes.  Both of their final 8 match ups have turned it over 24 times, a high number for this time of year and caliber of teams.  Dayton relies less on athleticism and more on a group of highly skilled players that have a fairly collective high basketball IQ.  These two teams are very familiar with each other, having played in last year’s state title game as well as the December game this season.  Delasalle coach James Broadous has lead his team to three runner up finished in the last five seasons and we believe that this is the year that they break through and hoist the blue trophy.  Reilly gives them the elite rim defender and rebounder that they have lacked in past state tournaments and we believe they have enough to get past Dayton in a great game.