Oregon's High School Sports Source
- Written by DRH
- Published on January 25, 2009
- Hits: 569
The nice thing about playing everybody in the MWL three times is that the seasons are nicely broken down into thirds. We are now exactly 1/3 of the way through the league season.
“Separation Week” in the MWL proved to be just that, taking a four-way tie atop the league at the beginning of the week and trimming it to just two teams tied for first by Friday evening.
#6 Thurston (11-3) rode its defense for a 48-25 win over Marshfield (7-6) in a first place showdown on Tuesday, and again on Friday with a 44-31 win at Willamette (8-7). Thurston led by one against Marshfield at halftime, and were tied with Willamette, but held the Pirates to five points after the break, and Willamette to a one-point third quarter to seal both wins. Nobody is making halftime adjustments like Thurston these days.
#7 Churchill (10-4) beat North Eugene (5-9) 54-44 at NE in a battle of first place teams Tuesday, then dismantled Springfield (7-6) 65-51 at the Lancer Dome. Nice rebound after their loss in Coos Bay. With Thurston playing red hot since their last meeting, Churchill couldn’t afford another loss, and they passed both tests with flying colors.
In case you were wondering:
North Eugene 3-2
North Eugene survived the trip to Coos Bay with a 51-45 win, which gives them a leg-up in the battle with Marshfield for the #3 playoff seed through the first go-round of MWL play.
The big game next week comes early, when Churchill travels to Thurston in what will be the second installment of what will no doubt be a season-long battle for the MWL crown. Churchill got out of the gates hot and ended up as 51-39 winners in the first meeting at Churchill. After giving up 51 to Churchill, the Colts only gave up 30.25 ppg to the rest of the league. We’ll see if the Colts have figured out a way to stop the Lancers.
Thurston’s week doesn’t end there, though – they travel to North Eugene on Friday. North is only 1-3 at home this season, but it won’t be an easy task. North will be looking to make a statement.
Marshfield hosts Willamette and Springfield this week. They have to win both. They beat Will-Hi by a bucket in Coos Bay in the last meeting, but lost by 20 in an uncompetitive effort at Springfield. If they want to stick around in the playoff race, they’ll need to win their home games against the bottom of the league.
It was a heck of a week for the 6A Eugene schools.
#9 Sheldon (13-2) made it through the first round of SWC play unscathed after beating #3 South Medford (10-5) 61-55 on the road, a huge win for the Irish. South’s EJ Singler went off to the tune of 19 points, but the Irish held strong and fended off the Panthers in the fourth quarter. They took to the road again on Friday and easily took care of business against Grants Pass (6-8), 51-33.
South Eugene (8-7) found a little bit of the consistency I talked about last week, and took advantage of a huge opportunity – hosting the two Medford schools. The Axemen opened the week with a 68-59 win over #8 North Medford (11-3), then beat South Medford for the second time this season, 57-55. The latter is significant because SE now holds any potential tiebreaker with South Medford due to clinching the season series. SE was able to limit the Panthers not named EJ Singler (he dropped 26), but the 1-2 Axemen punch of Spencer Coleman (19 ppg this week) and Hayden Rooke-Ley (18 ppg) proved to be unstoppable.
Good showing by the Eugene schools.
South Eugene 4-2
North Medford 3-3
South Medford 3-3
Grants Pass 1-5
Marist (7-7) lost their only game this week, 52-51 on the road to #10 Elmira. A quick Sky-Em update:
Cottage Grove 5-0
Pleasant Hill 2-3
Junction City 1-5
La Pine 0-5
Three teams from the Sky-Em qualify for the 4A playoffs, and Marist finds themselves two games out of third place fairly early in the league schedule. Not what the defending 4A champs wanted to see.
Marist takes to the court twice this week, hosting Pleasant Hill and #4 Sisters. No time like present to work yourself back into the mix, right? A sweep could conceivably put Marist into a tie with Sisters for third place: Marist would move to 4-3, and Sisters has a road game at undefeated #5 Cottage Grove as well, so it’s not at all improbable that Sisters would drop to 4-3 as well.
What Did We Learn?
Through the first go-round of MWL play, we learned that I was pretty accurate in calling for Churchill, Thurston, and North Eugene to finish 1-2-3 in the league. A huge Churchill/Thurston showdown on Tuesday will have Churchill thinking championship: holding the tiebreaker with Thurston would be a huge momentum builder going into the heart of the league season. Marshfield needs to keep winning to stay in it, and North has a chance to really ruin Thurston’s week with another big showdown on Friday.
The two 6A Eugene schools look like the class of the SWC. Sheldon’s still cruising along undefeated, and South Eugene beat South Medford – the preseason favorite – for the second time already. The two Medford schools aren’t going anywhere, but Sheldon and SE are helping themselves early, and you have to like that. It’s no secret that those four schools will take the four SWC playoff bids, it’s now just a matter of how they seed themselves.
Marist could have really used that win over Elmira, but they can get right back in the postseason mix by holding serve at home this week.