Oregon's High School Sports Source
- Written by DRH
- Published on March 2, 2009
- Hits: 723
The regular season is over, capped off by Churchill’s first MWL title since the 2001 Lancers ran undefeated through the league and won the 4A state title. The MWL’s three playoff berths are set, and they are as follows:
#11 Sherwood @ North Eugene -- Wednesday, March 4, 7 pm
North Eugene (11-13, 9-6) saw their 31 game MWL win streak snapped by Thurston in the second week of league play, then found themselves in an unfamiliar place in the MWL – fighting for a playoff berth. After two straight undefeated seasons in league, the Highlanders captured the #3 seed by holding off Marshfield and Willamette down the stretch. After a difficult regular season (in comparison to the previous three), the Highlanders still find themselves in the postseason. Many teams would love to be in their shoes.
North Eugene enters the playoffs having won four of six, both losses coming to the MWL #1 and #2 seeds. C Joe Kammerer, 6-9 and a University of Idaho signee, is an athletic big man capable of changing games just by stepping foot on the floor. PG Malaki Maaiki is a steady hand at point who hit a game-winning jumper against Springfield two weeks ago, and F Tyler Vanderhoff is an athletic wing adept at getting to the rim. Perhaps North’s biggest surprise has been F Adam Knight, who’s three-point shooting has come up huge this year.
NE’s opponent in the first round is Sherwood (15-7), who sits just outside the latest 5A Coaches Poll after securing the NWOC #3 seed. The Bowmen are lead by senior Colin Wester, who is averaging over 20 PPG, and athletic sophomore Brock Lutes.
#2 Roosevelt @ #3 Churchill -- Saturday, March 7, 5 pm
Churchill (19-5, 13-2) finally found the consistency that plagued them in the pre-league portion of the schedule, and have run off 9 straight wins since a 51-32 loss at Thurston at the end of January. The only game they didn’t win by double digits during the win streak was a 6 point win over Thurston at the Lancer Dome.
Churchill enters the postseason with a deep, established rotation that consistently goes nine to ten players. PG Jordan Myers, my preseason pick for MWL MVP, and F LeRon Bennett, both seniors, lead the charge but a talented frontcourt and an athletic bench allows the Lancers to throw wave after wave of defenders at you.
Churchill’s reward for a MWL championship and the league’s #1 seed is a home date with the Roosevelt Rough Riders, the PIL #2 seed and the #2 team in the latest 5A Coaches poll.
Yep, #2 vs. #3 in the second round of the playoffs, before either team gets the chance to tip-off at Mac Court for the quarterfinals. This should be a doozy.
Roosevelt is 16-6, with three losses to 6A schools and 3 losses to 5A #1 Jefferson. Roosevelt likes to run, run, run, and they, too, are a deep team that uses the entire length of the floor to their advantage. Roosevelt lost 38-28 to North Eugene in the 2006-07 5A Championship Game, and lost at Century in a second round match-up last year. This Rough Rider senior class has plenty of playoff experience.
Remember, too, that last year’s MWL/PIL match-up in the playoffs – MWL #2 seed Thurston hosting PIL #2 seed Madison – was one of the most thrilling games of the season, a furious 15 point Colt rally in the final 3 and a half minutes to beat the Senators and earn an invitation to Mac Court. I’d expect a similar showing this time around with Roosevelt/Churchill.
#8 Thurston @ #6 Hillsboro -- Saturday, March 7, 7 pm
Thurston (18-6, 11-4) claims the MWL #2 seed for the second consecutive year, this time doing so after replacing four senior starters, three of which went on to play either college basketball or football. This was a superb rebuilding job by coach Doug Piquette, and another strong senior class has the Colts in the second round for the third straight season.
Thurston enters the postseason having won two in a row, after hitting a rough patch where they lost two of three, and their win in that time span coming at home in overtime. They blew out Marshfield at home last Tuesday, then watched a 22 point second half lead at Willamette turn into a 2-point nail biter with less than three minutes to play in the regular season finale. Luckily for the Colts, they’re a good free throw shooting team.
Thurston’s date for the right to play for a return trip to Mac Court are the Hillsboro Spartans (19-6), the NWOC #2 seed. Three of the Spartans losses are to 6A schools, two came from NWOC champion Wilsonville, and the other at Corvallis. Hillsboro is a long, athletic team with plenty of shooters. They’re also 10-2 at home – a place Thurston wishes they were playing, after going undefeated at Colt Coliseum this season.
Thurston’s saving grace is that they’re always in every game they play – save for a blowout road loss to 6A Sheldon, which they played before Christmas without possible MWL MVP Maddie Boehm. Thurston’s tough defense and knack for timely shots gives them a chance to win any game they tip-off, but if Hillsboro is hitting their threes, this could be very difficult for Piquette’s boys.
Elsewhere in the area…
Clackamas (9-9) @ Sheldon (18-6)
The Irish let a late multi-game SWC lead dwindle, and South Medford caught them to secure the #1 seed, but they still finished the season as SWC co-champions.
Their reward is a first round home match-up with Clackamas, the #4 seed out of the Three Rivers League. Win and they advance to play an extremely winnable game against either Barlow or Newberg for the right to play at Mac Court for the quarterfinals.
South Eugene (14-10) @ Canby (11-13)
SE secured the SWC #3 seed over North Medford, and travel to Canby to meet the Cougars. Canby struggled for much of the year, but hit their stride down the stretch, winning their final four games to qualify for the postseason.
The winner here gets the winner of Gresham/Jesuit in the second round.
Philomath (12-11) @ Marist (14-9)
They did it! The Spartans locked down a return trip to the 4A playoffs, a year after winning it all, beating Sisters in a Sky-Em League playoff game.
Marist beat Philomath 62-54 on December 12th as part of the Marist Valley River Inn Spartan Classic. Another win over the Warriors will give Marist a road match against Cascade, the Capitol #1.
What Did We Learn?
The MWL has some brutal draws this year – simply brutal. The top seeds play two of the top six teams in the state, and if North Eugene gets past a scrappy Sherwood team, they’ll trip to the Southern Sky #1 in the second round. After two consecutive years of two MWL teams winning trophies at Mac Court (top six get trophies), it’s not inconceivable that the MWL sends none to Eugene.
Sheldon’s got a pretty clear path to Mac Court, but South Eugene has a brutal second round match-up with Jesuit should they beat Canby.