Banks vs. La Grande:
This could get ugly. The Braves come into this one undefeated and, by virtue of COVID, still technically defending state champions. La Grande, as much as they have outperformed their contemporaries in the east, may be way too outmatched. It wouldn’t be surprising to see this one end up with a final margin in the high teens or low twenties.
Junction City vs. Woodburn:
With Jeovanni Marroquin, this could be the best matchup of the quarterfinals, but it’s much less star-studded without him. When the Bulldogs are on, they can compete with just about anybody and have a championship-level ceiling. They can put on a show from the perimeter only rivaled by only Marshfield at the 4A level. With that said, however, Junction City has been one of the more consistent teams in the state at any level, and with a particularly impactful home court advantage, they are more of a safe bet. Woodburn can win this game, but they will have to play their best game of the season so far to do so. We will take Riley Sangermano and company to hold the fort and move on to Coos Bay by a margin of about ten points.
Winner: Junction City
Gladstone vs. Marshfield:
One question needs to be answered: will Mason Ainsworth go off? Gladstone is more than capable on the defensive end, and are one of the more physical teams in small-school basketball. If the Gladiators can body Ainsworth and play something similar to football on the basketball court, they can win this, no doubt. Conversely, if the Pirates are able to get on the break, turn this into a perimeter game, and put Mason Ainsworth’s talent on full display, Marshfield might be able to win this fairly comfortably. Since the game is being played at Harrisburg as a neutral site, neither the Pirate Palace nor the usually electric Gladstone gym will come into effect. We will bet on Marshfield to win the game somewhere in the single digits, but we would not be surprised one bit if Gladstone pulls this out. They are a real basketball team.
Cascade vs. Klamath Union:
This is the kind of heavyweight matchup we are used to seeing day one in Forest Grove. Cascade and Klamath Union are two of the longest, most talented, and hottest Teams in the State at any level. Either team winning this match up by more than ten points would be an utter shock to us, and frankly, the victor would probably walk into Coos Bay as the favorite regardless of their seeding. Unlike most modern high school basketball games, this one probably will be decided in the paint, as Dom Ball battles against the plethora of lengthy forwards the Pelicans can put on the floor. This matchup last year yielded one of the best first round games in the state and went down to a Klamath Union victory at the wire. Second verse, similar to the first. We’ll bet on a slim Cougar win.
Cascade Christian vs. Vale:
Short and simple: Vale can make this muddy, but it’s Cascade Christian’s game to lose. There are matchup problems all over the place for the Vikings, and to keep this close, the pace might have to be taken down to a near crawl. The Challengers are the #1 seed for a reason and should walk into Coos Bay coming off a comfortable win against the east’s best. CC in a blowout.
Winner: Cascade Christian
Yamhill-Carlton vs. Willamina:
Moroni Seely-Roberts is the player of the year in 3A basketball, and it’s not an argument. As a sophomore he’s outperformed, outplayed, and outshined much of the current power structure of Oregon high school basketball as a whole. Pick a random Tiger game, and he is more likely to go for 35 points than 20 and for 15 rebounds than 5. At the beginning of the season, we were a little blind to just how legit a player he was, but you’d have to be living under a rock at this point to not know who he is: a future D1 player. Willamina is a good team, and the Bulldogs can certainly make this one muddy, but the Tigers should win this is a rout, and Yamhill should be in a city-wide block party shortly after. We’ll take the Tigers by 20+.
Dayton vs. De La Salle:
This is a rematch of the 2017 and 2018 state title games and, from the Dayton perspective, what probably should have been the 2019 State title game. These two teams have more history than can be delved into in a simple preview article, so we will stick to the here and now. As we’ve said before, this is probably the least talented Pirate squad in years (not a knock on the current roster, but a testament to just how loaded Dayton was for the better part of a decade), but they are overperforming to such a large degree that they find themselves not only in the elite-8, but hosting their quarterfinal matchup. Initially, the Pirates weren’t supposed to host the Knights but instead the Eagles of Santiam Christian. To avoid an inter-Lewis and Clark League matchup between Western Christian and De La Salle in the quarterfinals, teams were moved around (as happens in a normal year towards the lower end of the bracket). This game comes down to which team can shoot the ball more efficiently and play their pace. Both teams will play with energy; that’s a given. The pivot point in this matchup, what will send either team to Coos Bay (or send them home), will be which team can be more efficient on the offensive end. Dayton is coming off a performance against Amity where they did not hit a three-pointer until the middle of the fourth quarter. Safe to say, an offensive output like that again may sink their ship. When in doubt, bet on the home team, so that’s the route we will take. Pirates by low single-digits.
Westside vs. Santiam Christian:
Every game has a pivot point, whether it be rebound differential, fast break points, or simply containing one player enough to make his teammates win the game on their own. This game will come down to, more or less, how Westside can contain Josh Baugher. If you’d asked us in preseason, Baugher would have been our pick for state player of the year, and up until about two weeks ago he still would have been our pick for best player at the 3A level. It’s not a knock on him but a testament to the season Moroni Seely-Roberts has had that this has changed; nonetheless, Baugher will be the best player in this game, and short of running into the Tigers in the state title game, that will be the case in any matchup the Eagles have left. If you’re Westside, it really is as simple as just containing Baugher and hoping the rest of the roster doesn’t go off on you. Westside has the talent to win this game outright even if Baugher isn’t negated, but if he catches fire, Santiam Christian could end up on the right side of an end-of-game free throw contest. We’ll take the Eagles… of Santiam Christian by an incredibly slim margin.
Winner: Santiam Christian
Jefferson vs. Waldport:
The Lions should run away with this one. Jefferson has had nothing short of a magical season, beating some of the best teams in 2A both at home and on the road, at times by blow out margins. With the absence of Toledo, the Lions have a real shot to win a state title in boys basketball for the first time in school history. If someone is to stop them, Waldport isn’t it. We’ll take the Lions in a rout.
Central Linn vs. Illinois Valley:
We could go either way with this one. The clash between the Cobras’ stifling defense and the Cougars’ explosive offense will be what decides this one. Illinois Valley can score on just about anybody with an offense fueled by their length and experience. If this game is being played at a faster than average pace, watch for the Cougars to pull away late. We will take Illinois Valley by a margin in the high single-digits to the low double-digits.
Winner: Illinois Valley
Knappa vs. Heppner:
This should be one of the better games this week 2A-4A. Both teams are well coached, experienced, and boast nearly perfect records. Like IV vs. Central Linn, this one will be decided when Heppner has possession of the ball. If Knappa can slow down the lengthy Mustangs, they can win this one for sure. But, as is a common theme in these defensive juggernaut vs. offensive juggernaut games, a hot start for Heppner could put the Loggers in an unrecoverable deficit. This will be fascinating to watch. We will take the ‘Stangs by a slim margin.
Regis vs. Salem Academy
With the absence of Toledo, the Crusaders take on the role of front runner. When you’re coached by someone who’s been in as many high pressure situations as Ben Brown and have a plethora of state-tournament experienced players like the Crusaders can boast, it’s pretty clear. Regis is a very, very good team and is also coached by a legend, but this is the Crusaders’ moment. Salem Academy by double digits.
Winner: Salem Academy
Columbia Christian vs. Santiam:
Rarely can you say someone is in a rust vs. rest scenario, but that’s where CC finds themselves. They haven’t played in a week, which could work for or against them. Shots might not fall early, but they’ll have more in the tank than Santiam more likely than not come crunch time. As impressed as we were with the Wolverines after their win over Kennedy, and as much as we want to pull for the town of Mill City in general, we have to take CC here. Knights by high single-digits.
Winner: Columbia Christian
Western Christian vs. Lakeview:
There is not a lot to break down here. Western Christian is hotter, has probably the best coach in small-school basketball on their bench, and has the advantage of having a state tournament-tested roster. Lakeview is a solid team, but they ended up with a bad draw in the first round here. Pioneers win by a margin in the teens.
Winner: Western Christian
Union vs. Portland Christian:
It’s good to see the Royals back in the thick of things, but this is Union’s game to lose. They are more battle tested, have the best player in the game, and as much as Eastern Oregon is technically a neutral site, it’s Union territory. This should be a rout, so give us the Bobcats by around 20.
Bandon vs. Oakland:
This one should be really, really fun. Like, uncharacteristically close for a sweet-16 game. Both teams are well coached, talented, are in the top-10 of our rankings, and are contenders of sorts. Given different matchups, both teams would be headed to the elite-8 and possibly further. We’ll take Bandon simply because of the home court advantage, but don’t be shocked if the Oakers come home from the coast draped in a tiger pelt.