The prelude to the actual 4A bracket begins on Friday, as 16 teams will battle to win and advance to the main playoff bracket next week. With games starting this afternoon, here is a look at all the play-in games and the predictions I have for them:
Cottage Grove (9-13) at Stayton (14-6)
Just like we’ve seen in the lower classes, Cottage Grove battled against all odds to get into the state playoffs, securing the final at-large bid to join the party. With that comes great confidence but also a tough opponent, as the Stayton Eagles are the only 4A team to beat #1 Philomath this year. CG beat Marist in league play, the win that likely got them into the playoffs, but Stayton is better than Marist and it’ll be an uphill battle.
Prediction: Stayton – 15 Point Favorite
Molalla (7-12) at Astoria (15-9)
Coming from a league of contenders, Molalla is battle tested and ready to tackle Astoria, who are coming off a league title loss to Banks. Contrary to their record, Molalla is capable of beating Astoria: Size, defense, and execution. The Fisherman have competed and hung around with 4A’s best, giving them some pedigree and a resume that you cannot ignore. This will be closer than many think, but Astoria still advances.
Prediction: Astoria – 9 Point Favorite
McLoughlin (8-10) at Hidden Valley (12-10)
The Hidden Valley Mustangs are an underrated team, they’ve only lost two games by double-digits this year, finding themselves in competition to win more than 12 games this season. McLoughlin has struggled against better competition this year, finding themselves being blown out in many circumstances. Hidden Valley might not blow them into the Earth, but they should win comfortably and advance to the main bracket.
Prediction: Hidden Valley – 15 Point Favorite
Klamath Union (10-12) at Marist (14-7)
This is a trap game waiting in the shadows: Can the Spartans get their offense moving and keep their strong defense, or will they give Klamath Union a chance? This is the question that will determine who advances to the main 4A bracket. The only shot KU has at pulling this off is to match the Spartans on defense and hope that they can outshoot the Spartans on offense. If they do it, then they could be in the neighborhood of a dub, but Marist will win under any other circumstances.
Favorite: Marist – 15 Point Favorite
Woodburn (12-9) at Henley (14-9)
Our first 50/50 game comes to us from the Basin, as the Hornets host Woodburn in a battle of two decent 4A squads. The Bulldogs are more battle-tested from their Wild West Conference than Henley’s Skyline experience, giving them a slight advantage in the game. On the flip side, Henley is on home territory and hasn’t been blown out at all this year, giving a testament to how hard of a matchup they will be. This is a coin flip honestly.
Favorite: Woodburn – 1 Point Favorite
Sisters (7-16) at Corbett (19-3)
Let’s get back to the easy picks: Corbett hosts the Sisters Outlaws to open the 4A bracket. Sisters put up a valiant battle against Woodburn to close the regular season, but Corbett is arguably a 4A contender with their multi-dimensional squad on the floor. This is an easy one, go with the Cardinals!
Favorite: Corbett – 20 Point Favorite
Sweet Home (10-13) at Marshfield (16-8)
Another upset is brewing in the woodwork with the Sweet Home Huskies, who almost knocked off Cascade to close the regular season schedule. Marshfield had lots of momentum entering the Sky Em, but were extinguished by their tougher league opponents and took home the #3 spot entering the playoffs. Sweet Home has momentum and confidence, and I think it’ll pull off the upset on the Coast this Saturday.
Favorite: Sweet Home – 5 Point Favorite
Valley Catholic (9-12) at La Grande (12-9)
La Grande is underrated and has more talent than people think. They have competed and went down fighting against some tough teams, most notably Baker, Crook County, and Nyssa. Valley Catholic found their stride late and fought to get into the playoffs, knocking off Tillamook to advance to Saturday’s play-in game. This is an opportunity for the Tigers to showcase their abilities against VC, and I think they will do it!
Favorite: La Grande – 13 Point Favorite