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Sports Desk: Churchill Now Moves Into top Spot

in Firehose/Rotator/The Sports Desk by

chs_logoBehind a huge third quarter, the Churchill Lancers (18-4, 9-0) toped the Sheldon Irish (17-6, 5-1) 67-49 at home to move into the No. 1 spot in the OSAA 5A rankings.

After being tied 12-12 going into the second quarter, the Lancers took a 5-point, 35-30, lead into halftime. It all started to unravel after that. Churchill stepped up both offensively and defensively to outscore Sheldon 19-10 in the third, moving the lead to 14 and essentially sealing the win. Churchill went on to win 67-49, their second consecutive double-digit victory against tough 6A teams (South Eugene and Sheldon).

Sheldon’s Yadie Dunmore led all scorers with 17 points, the only Irish to score in double-digits. Churchill had four guys score 10 or more points. Malik Morgan chipped in 16, while brother Emanuel Morgan scored 10 and David Shedrick and Andrew Smith both scored 12 a piece. Churchill, like all season, is a well-balanced team.

Despite the loss, Sheldon still sits at No. 7 in the OSAA 6A rankings with a firm position heading into the playoffs. South Eugene (15-8, 3-4) is also in a strong spot heading into postseason play. They are currently ranked No. 13.

The Lancers previously sat at the No. 2 spot, but the win against a highly ranked team gave them enough of a boost to pass Jefferson HS of Portland. Churchill has an RPI of 616.60, while Jefferson sits at 614.60. But what really stands out when looking at Churchill is their strong strength of schedule.

No team in all of 5A basketball has a stronger strength of schedule than Churchill. Their OPW (Opponent’s Winning Percentage) is a .564, which accounts for 50% of a team’s ranking.

The OSAA RPI formula is as followsRPI = (250 × WWP) + (500 × OWP) + (250 × OOP)

The team’s winning percentage accounts for 25% of the formula. Opponent’s winning percentage is 50% of the formula. Opponent’s opponent’s winning percentage is 25% of the RPI formula. Whoever created this ranking system WAY over thought it. That formula brings Churchill’s RPI to 616.60, giving them the highest ranking in the state. You can see how they matchup to the top-5 teams by checking the image at the bottom.

Churchill's Malik Morgan (Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)
Churchill’s Malik Morgan
(Alex Shoemaker/Eugene Daily News)

Churchill’s tough schedule, which features South Eugene and Sheldon twice, is the strongest in 5A basketball. Because of their already strong winning percentage, it’s easy to see why they rank so high. Even if Churchill gets hopped for the No. 1 spot in the final week of the season, it does not make a difference. Churchill is no longer battling for home court advantage. It is already theirs.

Churchill has two remaining games in the regular season. They face Thurston (11-11, 1-7) on Tuesday night and Springfield (10-12, 3-5) on Friday. While I don’t see Churchill losing either one of these games, the fact that they’re playing two teams battling the .500 line, their RPI is going to take a bit of a dip.

But RPI is irrelevant at this point. With the position that Churchill is in, they can easily make their way through the first rounds of basketball and into the quarterfinals. From there they’ll play the remainder of the playoff games in Matthew Knight Arena, with Marist being the only local team still in contention.

Churchill, a strong team at home, will have their home court advantage throughout the playoffs. This really does seem to be the year Churchill wins state.

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