Valley Catholic photo
The Valley Catholic girls celebrate their 3A title.
Valley Catholic photo
The Valley Catholic girls celebrate their 3A title.
Three basketball teams from Oregon Catholic schools are prep state champions.  

The girls from Central Catholic entered the 6A tournament in Portland ranked fourth in the state. When the dust settled, the Rams beat two of the three teams ranked above them to earn the title, riding a 23-game win streak. The final was a 57-36 emphatic victory over South Medford.

The Rams return nine players next year, but lose Kailee Johnson and Jordan Reynolds, both unanimous all-tournament selections.

At the 3A girls tournament in Coos Bay, members of the “Blue Crew” cheered Valley Catholic to the title – the first in school history.

Under head coach John Innes, the Valiants came back in the semi-finals to erase rival Rainier’s 12-point lead and win 44-40. In the 3A state championship game, the Valiants took on the St. Mary’s Crusaders from Medford and carried the day 40-27.  

With a defense focusing on St. Mary’s Alvarez sisters in the fourth quarter, Valley Catholic was able to amass a double-digit lead that held up.

Five of the six seniors have played at Valley Catholic since the third grade.

The Regis girls are 2A champions, taking their fourth straight title at the tourney in Pendleton. The Rams fended off Union 60-48. Regis junior Jessie Morris led all scorers with 21 points.

On the boys side, Central Catholic shocked the bracket and almost took the 6A crown. Ram senior Austin Dyer stood on the court dripping in sweat following the title game. He couldn’t quite force a smile but showed no hint of dejection either.

“I don’t think people expected us to go this far, but we shocked some people.”

The Rams lost 45-41 to West Linn in a game as evenly matched as the score suggests. A basket here, a steal there, and matters could have easily turned in the Rams’ favor.

Earlier in the tournament, Central Catholic  beat four-time defending state champion Jesuit.

As for the Rams’ mid-season losing streak, coach Dan Munson said “We learned a lot about ourselves after that.” It was the second half of the season that told Munson he had something special.

The boys will lose Dyer as well as senior all-tournament guard Mitchell Franz. They return seven players including second team all-tournament guard Deante Strickland, a sophomore.
Blanchet Catholic boys captured second in 3A.

— Ken Niezgoda,
Ed Langlois