The playoff seeds are locked in, bracket is known, the road to a 2A championship begins Saturday. There is plenty of reason to believe that three to four teams could take the title, but let’s not get any tunnel vision on that until we know who makes it to the Elite Eight. Here are the opening round pairings for Class 2A:
#16 Oakridge (15-8) at #1 Salem Academy (23-3)
This one isn’t much of a debate, as the injury ridden Salem Academy has found their stride in adversity, asserting themselves as favorites to win the 2A title. The Crusaders have a strong perimeter game that can flip into a post team if needed, along with a strong defensive presence that disrupts opponents on the regular. Oakridge showed flashes of potential during the season, but they haven’t been able to put together a string of consistency down the stretch. They’ll be playing the perimeter game to keep up, but it won’t be enough to secure an upset.
Pick: Salem Academy – 13 Point Favorite
#9 Stanfield (21-5) at #8 Vernonia (20-3)
Could there have been any worse possible time for Stanfield to get paired with Vernonia? No, not really. Surging off an upset win over Faith Bible for the league tournament title, the Loggers have a shot of momentum entering the playoffs and Brooklynn Walters is ready to roar. Stanfield is a quality team with a stingy defense, which is what will keep them in the game, especially if Walters is contained and they can execute offensively. Don’t count out the Tigers, but I am going with the hot hand to win the day.
Pick: Vernonia – 7 Point Favorite
#12 Enterprise (15-10) at #5 Gervais (22-4)
Props to Enterprise for getting into the playoffs, but I apologize for your ultimate pairing against the defending 2A champions. The Cougars will be like a boa constrictor with Enterprise: Suffocating them with their full-court press attack, beating them up in the paint, and drilling them from the perimeter. Gervais is on the hunt for another title, and this will be the first step towards that path.
Pick: Gervais – 15 Point Favorite
#13 Western Christian (16-10) at #4 Bandon (22-3)
If home is where the heart is, then the Bandon Tigers are the queens of their floor. Western Christian will be relying upon a perimeter-centric approach to beat Bandon on the road, while the Tigers have an arsenal of threats at their disposal to unleash on all parts of the floor. Unless the Pioneers hit a bunch of treys and can get Bandon on their heels, then this one belongs to the Tigers.
Pick: Bandon – 10 Point Favorite
#14 Oakland (18-9) at #3 Union (21-3)
There are two potential upset pairings and this is one of them. Oakland is a good defensive team that has an inside-out threat on offense, but turnovers are what gets them in trouble against good opponents. Union has a size advantage and can hit treys, but they’ve also been beat by good three-point shooting teams this year that can’t match them on size. This could go either direction, with a small leniency to the Bobcats from the gut feeling. Don’t be surprised by an upset, nor by a Union victory.
Pick: Union – 4 Point Favorite
#11 Colton (15-8) at #6 Faith Bible (21-3)
It was a good run for the Vikings, they have found their surge as a program and a great coach in Valerie Wakefield. However, the buck officially stops with Ashley Lohman, Alexis Mallory, and the Faith Bible Falcons. Coming off a loss to Vernonia, Brent Masterson is going to have his team fired up and ready to go for the blue trophy. A smaller squad, the Falcons are loaded up like a machine gun on offense and play defense like a team with nothing to lose. Welcome to the big time Faith Bible, make it worth your while!
Pick: Faith Bible – 13 Point Favorite
#10 Coquille (16-4) at #7 Lakeview (17-2)
In my first true upset pick of the playoffs, I believe in the Red Devils going to Honker Country and coming home with the win. I’m circling that big middle battle between Tyler McNeley and Hailey Combie, it will ultimately decide the victor in this game as the better player will control the boards and the paint. In what will be a game of 2v2 on the perimeter: Holli Vigue and Taylor Kelner vs Savannah Greenfield and Kenna Stratton.
Pick: Lakeview – 3 Point Favorite
#15 Bonanza (16-8) at #2 Central Linn (20-3)
The final pairing of the opening round takes us to Halsey for Bonanza traveling from the Basin to the Willamette Valley. This one is pretty straightforward, with the Cobras not likely to have any problems handling Bonanza. Central Linn is scattered with talent on defense, on the perimeter, and in the paint, not to mention rebounding advantages with their size. Take Central Linn all the way!
Pick: Central Linn – 15 Point Favorite