#1 De La Salle v #16 Yamhill-Carlton
‘The new vs the old’
The De La Salle Knights. 2 time defending state champions, 4 straight championship game appearances, returning state player of the year George Sadi and coach of the year James Broadus II. An 18-6 regular season record, but only two losses to 3A opponents (SC and PAA).
How could YC possibly keep up? The Roberts trio, being battle hardened from the PacWest, and good ol’ fashioned momentum.
Mornoi Roberts was first team all league as a freshman. The guy can flat out ball, and he’s 14. Malakai isn’t far behind, getting 2nd team all league in his own right. Heather Roberts is a front runner for coach of the year, and Yamhill-Carlton as a school and community(s) are on the rise in general.
The difference in this one will be DLS’s experience. Ultimately George Sadi and company should be able to close out the Tigers late and continue their title defense, but don’t count the Tigers out completely.
Prediction: DLS 68 YC 56
#2 Dayton v #15 Warrenton
To play basketball in Dayton, with seldom an exception, you have to play defense. You have to play with energy, be in the right position, and communicate. If you don’t do those things, you don’t play. It’s a state of being for Dayton’s basketball program that has pretty much persisted since Ron Hopp got the head coaching position in 2002. Warrenton this season has adopted a similar philosophy, mirroring Philomath at the 4A ranks in a commitment to defensive intensity, playing a low possession game, allowing players to go 75% on offense for extended periods of time to conserve energy. It’s a strategy that has helped a less talented Warrior squad to go .500, and nearly win their league title.
The difference in this game is Dayton’s offensive output. Warrenton might keep this close for a while, or play even with Dayton points wise for a quarter, but in the end they’re at a drastic disadvantage in pure basketball talent. Dayton should be able to blow this one open in the 3rd quarter, and move on to Coos bay.
Prediction: Dayton 53 Warrenton 35
#3 Salem Academy v #14 Pleasant Hill
‘Definition of consistency v the antithesis of consistency’
SA is one of the bigger ‘surprises’ this year. Were they expected to be a top 10 team? Sure, but a team that features 10 upperclassmen and a returning league co coach of the year should pretty much always be in the pre season top 10 considering how rare those two factors are to be in unison. But then you throw Ben Brown, SA’s long time girls coach, into the fray, and SA shouldn’t be a surprise in any sense of the word. Who at the small school levels (4A-1A) can boast a coaching staff as experienced and accomplished as SA? This team is deep, is well coached, and is as consistent as any team in the state. Pleasant Hill is led by Max Smith and as of late Omani Perkins has scored 20+ in a few games to end the season but this team is really hit or miss. If they are shooting well this could be a close one at halftime, but in all likelihood his will be a long game for Pleasant Hill.
Prediction: Salem Academy 60 P-Hill 43
#4 Amity v #13 Nyssa
Amity and Nyssa are no strangers to each other despite the distance between them. Twice in the last three years have these two schools met each other in the playoffs (@Nyssa in girls basketball in 2017-2018, @Amity in football 2018). The boys basketball programs have already met each other this season at the SA tournament, a game Amity closely won 56-51.
We see this game going mostly as the first one did. Fast, up and down the floor, lots and lots of shot attempts. The difference, just like last time, will depend on who plays better defense. Amity squeaked out a win predominantly because of their ability to force Nyssa into shots on the third and fourth pass, which Nyssa couldn’t convert at as high a rate as the fast break buckets they got in the first half.
A repeat of this, Amity wins. Nyssa is able to stay patient and knock the Warriors off their rhythm, who knows. Nyssa is a top 8 team in the state that got knocked down to the 13 seed because of one loss to Riverside at the most inopportune time. This should be a good one. Amity is a home court atmosphere Nyssa will not be used to though, which is something to watch.
Prediction: Amity 67 Nyssa 61
#5 Creswell v #12 Sutherlin
‘Coos Bay Round 0’
There’s a thing in college football called ‘week 0’. This is technically the week before the season opens up, but teams still schedule games during this time period for TV time, recruiting leverage, or just good old fashioned impatience. There’s also games in the NFL and NBA at the end of the regular season that hold just as much weight as a playoff game, possibly because for one team to get in the playoffs at all they have to win that specific game.
Sutherlin @ Creswell is a Coos Bay game, just…not. Creswell and Sutherlin have both been in the top 10 pretty much all season, and at one point were both in the top 5. Problem is that St. Mary’s went on a tear and knocked Sutherlin and Cascade Christian out of home games. So instead of being the first round of Coos when these two teams meet, it’s the round of 16. In essence this is Coos Bay round 0.
Creswell will push the pace, as they always do. Their speed and outside shooting should make things fluid on the offensive end, but Mason Gill and company should make defense really hard. Sometimes you can coast on one end of the floow to conserve energy, allowing you to go full boar on the other end. Problem in this game, for both teams, will be that the opponent is too well tuned and talented to take even 10 seconds off. This game should be one of the best, if not the best, first round game competition wise. Give us Creswell by 5 (playoff home atmospheres usually net 3-5 points in a pick em scenario), but Sutherlin could easily win this one.
Prediction: Creswell 58 Sutherlin 53
#6 St Mary’s v #11 Riverdale
‘Two different kind of newcomers’
St. Mary’s right now screams Amity from last year, or even St. Mary’s from 2016. They’re hot, have a player who nobody can seem to handle in Tre Foster, and are catching everybody by surprise. The crusaders went from 2-6 to league champs in just under two months, and are quietly becoming a dark horse pick to win it all.
Riverdale is an enigma, like most of the Lewis and Clark league. Were they ranked in the top 10 for most the season? Yes. Were they relatively unimpressive down the stretch? Also yes. Considering we know what to make of one team, but not the other, we will take the for sure.
This game will be decided when St. Mary’s has the ball. Can Riverdale play well enough on the defensive end to not only keep Tre Foster in check, but the various shooters that will be lining the perimeter also. For the sake of predicting, we’ll say no.
Prediction: St. Mary’s 74 Riverdale 63
#7 Umatilla v #10 Cascade Christian
‘The most unlikely first round game conceivable’
Just a week ago Cascade Christian was on the fast track to winning league, sealing up a home game against a team like SC, and on the fast track to Coos Bay. Umatilla was nearly out of the playoff picture, in competition with Riverside for the 2 spot out of the east, and just trying to survive. Now Umatilla gets to play host to CC Saturday. What a turn of events.
Umatilla has won 5 in a row, but not necessarily as ‘hot’ as St. Mary’s. A 1 point win over Riverside on February 14th saved their season, and two games later beat them again for the league title by 8. An average differential of 4.5 away from this potentially being Riverside hosting a playoff game instead of Umatilla. The Vikings have two gigantic, unmistakeable, undeniable advantages in this game: Travel and atmosphere. Cascade Christian fans will travel 6 ½ hours by car, the team bus will likely take 7 ½ to 8 hours to complete the drive. This, combined with entering one of the more hostile environments in the state, could make up for any talent differential by itself.
Cascade Christian, for almost all intents and purposes, is back. CC had to go through a rough patch, but coach Brian Morse has the Challengers back to where they have been most of the 21’st century, at the forefront of the state championship discussion. This team can compete with the heavy weights. They beat Dayton, OES, Sutherlin, SA, STM, and 1A #2 Triad. A week ago, CC would’ve been a trendy pick to make the semis.
This game will be determined by two things: how much energy does CC have, and how much energy does the Umatilla crowd bring. It’s the intangible things that will determine this one.
Prediction: Cascade Christian 60 Umatilla 55
#8 Rainier v #9 OES
‘The most slept on team v the most unknown team’
It’s been a while since Rainier got to host a playoff game in boys basketball, 2012 to be specific. It’s been that long also since the Columbans got to walk the boardwalk in Coos Bay as tournament participants. Unlike Umatilla, Rainier has been likely to have a home game for multiple months, despite a low ranking.
The Coastal Range league is not particularly strong this year, which is directly tied to Rainiers ranking of #16. But don’t be mislead, this team is better than they’re ranked. Kenney Tripp, Connor Rea, and Easton Crape are just as good of a trio as you’ll find at most public schools. Rainier is not to be underestimated, especially on their home court in a playoff environment.
OES got the shortest end of STM and Umatilla’s sudden rise to relevance. OES, despite being ranked 5th, got pinched out of a home game entirely, and has to go to Rainier in round 1. OES can play with the big boys, nearly knocking off Amity early in the season and beating Riverdale twice, but nobody outside the Lewis and Clark league has seen them since January 4th, meaning they’re a relative unknown.
This one will come down to Rainier’s defense on Charles Willmot. OES plays through him like Dayton used to run through Zach Bernards, but without Jalen Flowers or Oscar Rosas to play second and third fiddle. If the Columbians can force the ball out of Willmot’s hands, they have a good chance to be in this late.
Considering the momentum behind Rainier, and the historical circumstances Saturday will be the climax of, we will take the Columbians in a close one.
Prediction: Rainier 62 OES 59