CLASS 4A BOYS BASKETBALL: Benson, last year's state runner-up, visits Willamette, and Sheldon hosts McMinnville as the Class 4A boys basketball sub-tournament begins tonight. Both games begin at 7.
Willamette faces a Portland Interscholastic League team for the second straight season in the playoffs. Lincoln defeated the Wolverines 34-32 last year.
"It is a learning process in the playoffs for the coaches and the players, and I know I have learned from last year," Willamette coach Jeff Bair said. "Last year I was pretty tight and intense, and maybe the kids fed off that a bit because we played tense in the second half. We will approach it differently this year, and we want to bring our tempo to the PIL team, and we base that on solid defense and executing well on offense."
Willamette finished third in the Midwestern League at 11-5, led by first-team all-league wing Marques Green, a senior who averages 12.9 points per game. Point guard Kyle Pratt was a second-team pick after scoring 9.3 points per game, and Ahmed Zarrugh averaged 7.5 points and received honorable mention.
"I think we have played pretty inspired ball," Bair said. "We found ourselves in a different situation this year; we were a marked target toward the second half of the year. The kids are learning, and they won some big games this year. We have to play smart."
Benson is the No. 4 seed out of the PIL with a 13-5 record. The Techmen, who lost 78-46 to Churchill in last year's title game, have reached the state tournament in five straight seasons.
Senior point guard Bruce Jones leads Benson with 13.1 points per game, while junior forward Kevyn Green adds 12 per game. J.R. Moore, a 6-8 post, scores 8.5 points per game.
"They are an athletic ballclub that likes to get out in transition," Bair said.
The winner travels to Reynolds for the second round on Thursday.
Sheldon, which finished fourth in the league at 10-6, hosts McMinnville, which went 8-8 to earn the No. 4 seed in the Pac-9 Conference.
Sheldon point guard Andy Perry ranked ninth in the league in scoring at 11.8 points per game, while 6-4 sophomore post Keith Best was 12th in the league with 10.1 points per game and led the team with five rebounds per contest. Junior guard Chad Mart averages 7.2 points, and 6-3 sophomore Dustin Hinkle added 5.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per game.
"We've played pretty well all year, and we are playing with more confidence now than at the start of the year," Sheldon coach Lane Johnson said. "We have gotten some nice contributions from our bench."
Sheldon dropped to 5-5 in league following a 39-37 loss to South Eugene on Feb. 1, but bounced back during the final three weeks of the season.
"I challenged the team following the loss to South Eugene, and we went 5-1 to end the season," Johnson said.
McMinnville is led by 6-1 senior guard Seth Jones, who averages nearly 15 points per game. Junior point guard Dominic Doty has started since his freshman year, while Shane Stuart can play inside and outside.
"They are real similar to us," Johnson said. "They are quick and have a good point guard."
The winner travels to Beaverton on Thursday. Willamette and Sheldon each need to win three sub-tournament games to reach next week's state tournament.
Midwestern runner-up Churchill needs to win one sub-tournament game and will host either Roseburg or Tualatin on Saturday night.
Thurston, which moved up to No. 1 in the latest coaches poll this week, has an automatic berth at state.
WILLAMETTE ON THE AIR: Two upcoming Willamette basketball games will be broadcast on the Internet at www.oregon.ihigh.com.
Willamette's boys basketball sub-tournament game against Benson tonight will be broadcast at 7, and Willamette's opening-round game at the Class 4A girls state tournament Wednesday will be broadcast at 1:30 p.m. Jon Bullock will announce both games.
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|Publication:||The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)|
|Date:||Feb 26, 2002|
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