Posted On: 11/28/18 12:00 PM

The 2018-19 season is upon us and it’s time to take a look at the top leagues in the state. Today we look at the ultra-competitive TRL, the Three Rivers League.

2017-18 Review

Lake Oswego was the class of the conference all season long, with West Linn a rock-solid second, and Tigard and Tualatin right after. While the regular season fell to form, the playoffs had a different story. Tigard went out in the round of 32 and both Lake Oswego and West Linn were upset in the Sweet Sixteen. Instead it was fourth place Tualatin that beat the odds and made it to the Chiles Center, winning one game and coming away with a sixth place trophy in what ended up the final hurrah for long time head coach Rick Osborn.

Changes for 2018-19

Sherwood and Newberg leave the TRL for the new Pacific Conference, while old rivalries are renewed as Oregon City returns from the Mt. Hood Conference.

State Tournament Threats

Lake Oswego – The Lakers only lost one game in league play last year and that very well could happen again for head coach Marshall Cho’s team in 2018-19 as returning to Lake Oswego is a solid blend of talent and experience. Senior sharpshooter Josh Angle will lead the way and over the summer he showed that he’s much more than just a standstill shooter. His backcourt mate, sophomore point guard Wayne McKinney, is as explosive as they come for the position and his game should elevate to even higher levels this year. If that weren’t enough, the frontcourt is experienced and tough with seniors in 6-foot-7 Fred Harding and 6-foot-5 Grant Fuson, along with utility hustle guy Brandon Roberts. TRL Defensive Player of the Year Sam Abere is also back and two JV promotees in junior Grant Brauner and sophomore Trace Salton will help give Cho incredible depth at practically every position. Add in the fact the Lakers felt jilted at missing out on the state tournament last year and that should be enough fuel to fire up Lake Oswego into making an appearance at Chiles Center in March.

West Linn – While on paper the Lions look young, the truth of the matter is head coach Tyler Toney’s team has a ton of experience as many of the players have been playing varsity since their freshman year. Micah Garrett, Bryson Crockett, and Damiko Tidmore are veteran varsity players and they continue to grow physically and skillwise with their games. Garrett currently ranks as the top player in the Class of 2020 in the state. Senior Drayton Caoile will once again man the point and West Albany transfer Oreon Courtney will prove to be invaluable as a utility guy. The Lions even have some size with 6-foot-7 athletic junior Joe Juhala and promising 6-foot-7 freshman Mason VanBeenen. West Linn will score plenty of points for sure but how far they go will ultimately rest on how they defend against the state’s elite teams.

Tigard – Head coach Shawn Alderman has a trademark physical defensive style for his teams, but this year’s Tigers have some scoring punch to them – namely senior Stevie Schlabach. The 6-foot-4 wing can score at all three levels and could very well challenge for the state scoring title. The Tigers aren’t just a one-man show though as there are a number of other athletic players who will also contribute in seniors Jazz Ross, Jake Bullard, and Diego Lopez, and younger players such as sophomore Drew Carter, the star QB on the football team.

Post-Season Programs

Tualatin – Tualatin faces a brand new era as the only coach they’ve ever known finally decided to move on. The cupboard is hardly bare for former top assistant Todd Jukkala though and it will be interesting to see what style he ultimately decides to employ. The Timberwolves will certainly miss star guard and First Team 6A All-State honoree Alexis Angeles but there are quite a few players back.  A nice group of seniors including Bridger Steppe, Jack Rose, and Caden Dickson will be ready to run on offense if that happens to be the approach, but at the same time will be experienced enough to play the trademark Timberwolf defense as well.

Oregon City – The Pioneers lose a lot of production with Mt Hood Conference Player of the Year Teron Bradford moving on to college at Southern Oregon as well as some other top seniors. But head coach Aaron Newkirk has a couple of quality players ready to step up in senior Corban Remsburg and Erich Nova and also adds one of the top transfers in the league in point guard Andre Best from West Linn.  Depending on who you ask the Pioneers were missed in the TRL so it’s good to see old rivalries renewed.

In Transition

Canby – The Cougars are young and inexperienced, which is a tough combination in a league as tough as the TRL. Senior Rizdin Miller will likely be the top perimeter shooter and scorer, senior Ronan Gay steps into the point guard spot, and Diego Arredondo is a promising sophomore but the rest of the squad for head coach Craig Evans will largely be gaining valuable experience for the years ahead.

Lakeridge – If only a number of players hadn’t moved away the last couple of years and head coach Fred Gold would be looking at a much different outlook this season. Carter Larrance is the main varsity player back and is one of the league’s tallest players at 6-foot-8, and Ryan White, Nima Valay, and Lawrence Chen are among the other seniors that will be called on to contribute.

League Predictions

1. Lake Oswego
2. West Linn
3. Tigard
4. Tualatin
5. Oregon City
6. Canby
7. Lakeridge

Player of the Year

Stevie Schlabach, Tigard. Schlabach should be the leading scorer in the league and comes into the season with a bit of a chip on his shoulder. There is no other top team who will rely on their star player as much as Tigard will with the senior who is aiming to not only win games but capture the attention of college programs. Schlabach will no doubt have a target on his back from opposing defenses, but as he did all off-season, the senior kept on finding ways of putting the biscuit in the basket.

All-League Predictions: Schlabach; Josh Angle, Lake Oswego; Wayne McKinney, Lake Oswego; Micah Garrett, West Linn; Andre Best, Oregon City

Top Sleeper/Newcomer

Oreon Courtney, West Linn. Courtney arrived at West Linn after spring break last season and he’s primed to make an immediate impact for the Lions. Coach Tyler Toney is expecting him to contribute on both ends of the floor, especially defensively as he has the versatility to guard multiple positions. Courtney’s athleticism and motor is unmatched in the league and he has the uniqueness of being able to contribute in a big way without having a single play run for him.

Outlook

It’s going to be an extremely competitive year in the TRL and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see the league standings change practically every single week as the teams will beat up on each other. Lake Oswego seems to have the most overall in terms of depth, talent, and coaching to come out on top at the end, but West Linn is a very close second with their overall talent and experience. Both squads are capable of earning a trophy at he Chiles Center. Tigard isn’t too far behind those two and they also possess the league’s top offensive player in Stevie Schlabach, and could very well challenge for a state tournament berth. Look for Tualatin and Oregon City to both also reach the post-season and potentially win a game when they are there.