Another week of 6A Portland high school basketball is in the books. Here are five observations I had from last week’s action.
Boys: Three Rivers League and Mt. Hood Conference are deep.
Twelve of the OSAA’s top 23 ranked teams reside in the Three Rivers League and Mt. Hood Conference. Each league has six quality teams that could make a run come playoff time. The Three Rivers League has No. 1 West Linn, Lake Oswego (8-5), Tigard (9-4), Lakeridge (8-5), Tualatin (9-3) and Newberg (10-3). The Mt. Hood Conference has No. 2 Central Catholic, No. 3 David Douglas, Clackamas (11-3), Oregon City (8-6), Reynolds (8-6), and Barlow (11-3). With such parity, teams in each league are bound to beat up on each other this season. We’ve seen it already.
Its been a roller coaster so far in the Three Rivers League. The biggest surprise might be Lake Oswego’s 3-0 start, which includes a 52-51 win over Tualatin. The Timberwolves have been up and down through the first two weeks of league play. They lost to rival Tigard but beat Lakeridge. The Pacers knocked off Tigard on Friday night. I expect the unpredictable outcomes will continue all season.
What might be most impressive is No. 1 West Linn’s domination. The Lions seem unfazed by the talented teams they’re going up against. Their closest victory was a 15-point win over Canby.
It looked like No. 2 Central Catholic would take control of the Mt. Hood Conference after their 72-55 win over No. 3 David Douglas. The Rams, without point guard Deante Strickland, lost their first league game Friday night to Clackamas. Oregon City beat Clackamas earlier this season but lost their first league game to Centennial, who wasn’t even mentioned as one of the aforementioned top teams. The league is up for grabs and teams can’t afford to have a letdown on any night.
The loss of Strickland, who is one of the best point guards in Oregon, could be a game-changer for the league and state. It’s unknown how long the senior guard will be out. Head Coach Dan Munson said that his suspension is indefinite and non-basketball related.
Boys: No. 4 Jesuit improving.
There is something to be said for utilizing fundamentals and playing smart. The Crusaders consistently excel in both facets and are now on a five-game winning streak after starting the season 4-4.
It couldn’t have been more apparent than in their 54-43 win over No. 5 Southridge on Friday night. The Skyhawks had three starters that were 6-foot-5 or taller. Jesuit’s tallest starter was 6-foot-4. Instead of trying to do the spectacular against the Southridge big men, the Crusaders played smart, fundamental defense. Jesuit forced Southridge out of deep post positioning and had back-side help defense.
The Crusaders have talent, but this certainly isn’t their most talented team in recent memory. They play smart, fundamental basketball though which allows them to close out games. Six of Jesuit’s nine wins have come by six points or less. The Crusaders are 3-0 in the Metro League and shouldn’t be counted out as a legitimate state title contender, despite being young and undersized.
Girls: Metro League shakeup.
The Metro League entered the week with three teams ranked in the media poll’s state top ten: No. 4 Beaverton, No. 6 Jesuit and No. 8 Glencoe. The most anticipated game entering last week was Jesuit hosting Glencoe. The game lived up to its billing as the Crusaders pulled out a 38-37 win on Tuesday night. Both teams were set to play teams without winning records on Friday. The expectation was they would both get wins and the Metro League would continue to be a three horse race.
Sunset and Southridge had other plans in mind. Glencoe lost a 44-42 nail-biter to the Apollos, who were 0-2 in league play and 5-7 overall. The Crimson Tide started the week ranked in the state’s top ten and finished the week with a below .500 record in league play.
Southridge, who was 6-6 entering Friday night’s game against Jesuit, beat the Crusaders 52-46 to move to 3-0 in league play. The Skyhawks are tied for first place with Beaverton, who maintained stability in the conference with wins over Sunset and Century.
What was expected to be a battle of top ten teams between Beaverton and Glencoe will likely not be hyped as such next week. Given the way the Metro League has played out so far, it wouldn’t be a shock to see Glencoe come out on top.
Boys: Newberg exposed?
Newberg was one of the surprises in non-league play when they ripped off ten straight wins under new coach Mark Brown. However, the Tigers only beat one 6A team during that run with a winning record. They won their league opener against Sherwood, but the Bowmen are only 5-8 this season.
Newberg had a great opportunity last week to show they are for real with matchups against Tigard (9-4) and No. 1 West Linn. The Tigers hung tough with a quality Tigard team, but saw their winning streak come to an end in a 48-45 defeat. Newberg followed that up with a shellacking to the hands of West Linn, 89-55. I’m not going to overreact to the West Linn loss because the Lions are the two-time defending state champs for a reason. But, it’s safe to say Newberg has come back down to Earth a little bit.
Girls: Central Catholic and Canby rolling.
Central Catholic had its biggest win of the season over No. 7 Clackamas, 50-43, on Friday night. The Rams are now 4-0 in the Mt. Hood Conference and have won six of their last seven games. They have an impressive 59-44 win over Centennial, who lost to No. 2 Oregon City by just one point on Friday night. Central Catholic’s overall record is 8-6, but three of their losses were against teams from out of state. The other three were against No. 1 South Salem, Oregon City and No. 6 Jesuit. The Rams have a favorable schedule next week against Barlow and Gresham to get to 6-0 in league play before a possible league showdown against Oregon City.
Canby has rode a three-game winning streak to second place in the Three Rivers League. The Cougars are 8-6 overall and 5-2 in league play. They picked up a solid 43-30 win over Tigard (8-6) on Tuesday night and blew out Lakeridge 81-38 on Friday night. Canby also has quality league wins against Sherwood and Newberg. The Cougars will be tested next week when they face Three Rivers League leader and fifth-ranked St. Mary’s.