Grant Generals

Prep Hoops Roundup 2-24-2012

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— Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports

Lancers Take The Rematch Against Irish

Last Friday’s game definitely lived up to the hype. As was to be expected, this Churchill-Sheldon rematch shared all the excitement of their buzzer-beater match a month ago. Unlike the last time, however, it was the Lancers celebrating at the end with a 75-73 win over the Irish in overtime.

The 17-7 (14-2) Irish and 20-4 (13-3) Lancers have been the best two teams in the Midwestern League, and their two contests have been decided by a total of three points.

Sheldon came away victorious in the first contest, a 62-61 Dillon Miller deep half-court buzzer-beater, but with the Lancers riding the emotions of the home crowd and would not be denied. The Irish had a final possession where they could have tied the game and forced a second overtime, but it wasn’t to be.

“It was a great defensive stand,” said Churchill guard Aaron Ingram about his game-clinching steal. “I saw the ball and grabbed it. Then I just dribbled out the clock. A great team win.”

Ingram finished the contest with 10 points, with most of his contributions coming on assists and defense.

Churchill extended their lead to 15 in the third quarter, and the game appeared to be all but out of reach.  However,  a 10-0 run by the Irish to start the fourth quarter decimated the Lancers’ lead and the game was suddenly tied 55-55.

“We don’t pay attention to the scoreboard,” said Churchill head coach Kelly Bokn about the shifts in momentum. “Whether we’re up or down, we keep with our game plan. We lost our lead pretty quickly, and the credit goes to Sheldon. But we were able to keep the game close and come out with a W in OT.”

Churchill was led by David Shedrick who had 18 points, as well as 16 from Emmanuel Morgan.  Sheldon was led by the 18 points from point guard Dillon Miller and the 16 points from forward Dale Baker.

With the regular season now finished, both the Irish (6A) and Lancers (5A) can work on preparing for the OSAA playoffs, hopefully bringing a state championship back to Eugene.

The Irish graduate eight players after this season including three starters (Miller, guard Joe Bando, and Baker). Churchill only loses two seniors after this year (Ingram and backup Andrew Tupper).

Both teams have legitimate shots of making a deep run in the playoffs.

“I think we can go far,” said Ingram. “Obviously it’s just one day at a time, one practice at a time. We believe in each other. We can go far. We just need to keep practicing and not slow down.”

The coaching staff shares Ingram’s confidence and wants to make sure the team keeps focused on the task at hand.

“We don’t want to look to far ahead of ourselves,” said Bokn. “One game at a time. Anything can happen in any game. We don’t want to be caught off guard. There are a lot of good teams, and we think we can compete with the best.”

Around The Rest Of The League:

Marist Spartans: 13-10

The Spartans have finished their up-and-down season with maybe their most frustrating loss of the season. They lost three of their last four games and suffered a 45-26 blowout loss at Thurston in the finale.

North Eugene Highlanders: 9-14

North’s season is officially over, and the can rest their hats on a nice 59-51 victory over Willamette last Friday. It appeared the Highlanders would push for a playoff spot, but a 3-8 finish to the season put a damper on that.

South Eugene Axemen: 4-20

South’s horrific season is finally over. A 1-5 record over their past six games was actually an improvement on average for the season as a whole. The Axemen fell 81-47 last Friday in their season finale at Grant.

Willamette Wolverines: 8-16

The theme of the Wolverines’ season has been playing where you’re comfortable makes all the difference. Their home record of 4-6 is respectable, while their road record of 2-9 killed their postseason chances. With a young roster, the Wolverines can look to next year.

Prep Hoops Roundup 2-16-2012

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— Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports

Generals Conquer Irish At Home, Snapping Sheldon’s Eight Game Streak

After a colossal 15-2 deficit against Grant, Sheldon mounted a huge comeback spanning the rest of the game.  Unfortunately for the Irish, it wasn’t enough as they fell just short the 6A powerhouse Generals 59-55 last Friday night. 

The Irish started the game incredibly shaky, especially point guard Dillon Miller who scored just three points in the first three quarters. Shots weren’t falling, and careless turnovers led to easy fast break points for Grant. That’s why it looked like the Generals were going to run away with it early.

The game changed midway through the first quarter when Sheldon trailed by 13. Big man Dale Baker (11 points) converted an old-fashioned three point play, and Grant senior Tre Battle was called for a technical foul. Sheldon’s Jordan Alexander then nailed both free throws to cut the deficit to just eight.

“Those free throws definitely helped,” said Irish coach Ron Lampe. “We needed some momentum to get us going. That was the spark we needed. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep it going all game.” 

Sheldon’s Connor Strahm did not put up his normally stellar numbers. He scored just 11 points, and was off on several shots.

“It was an off night,” said Strahm. “I think everybody was off. We weren’t playing good basketball. We can play better than this.”

The Irish could not stop Grant forward Chris Wells who finished the game with a team high 22 points. He scored the majority of his points in the key, as well as shooting 6-of-8 from the free throw line.

“We can’t get into foul trouble like that,” said Lampe. “They were making their shots and made us pay for putting them on the line. Those are free points.”

Sheldon bounced back on Tuesday with a 76-56 win at home against South Eugene. The Grant defeat was the first and only home loss of the 2011-12 season for the Irish, who finished with a home record of 9-1. 

At 17-6, the Irish play their final game at Churchill on Friday night. Look for coverage of that game next Wednesday at Eugene Daily News.

Around The Rim: What’s Up With The Rest Of The Schools

Churchill Lancers:

At 19-4, the Lancers are one of the most exciting prep teams in the Eugene area. Churchill has a prefect 8-0 home record this season, with just one game remaining. Churchill won both of their games this past week, blowing out North Eugene 94-54 and Springfield 68-44. They’ll end the regular season with a big playoff test when Sheldon visits on Friday.

Marist Spartans:

The 13-9 Spartans had an up-and-down week, losing 53-49 at Marshfield on Friday but bouncing back with a 61-58 victory over Willamette on Tuesday. Marist’s final game before the postseason is at Thurston on Friday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:00 PM. 

North Eugene Highlanders:

The Highlanders’ record has fallen to 8-14 after back-to-back losses to Churchill and Marshfield this past week. North’s final game is Friday night at Willamette with only pride on the line.

South Eugene Axemen:

With a 4-19 record, it’s safe to say that the Axemen have been the worst prep team in the Eugene area. This year, 14 of the Axemen’s 19 losses have been by double digits. Their season comes to a close on Friday at Grant. A win is almost out of the question, but keeping the game close could be a moral victory. 

Willamette Wolverines:

Willamette needed to come away with two wins over the past week, and unfortunately they came up short in both contests. Following a 58-50 loss at Thurston, the Wolverines lost their next game at Marist as well. The Wolverines now sit at 8-15 with their final game at home against North Eugene on Friday.

Prep Hoops Roundup 2-09-2012

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— Alex Shoemaker, EDN Sports
Irish Come Up With A Big Victory Over SpartansSheldon guard Dillon Miller came up with a huge performance last Thursday. That was more than enough for the Irish, as they easily blew out the Marist Spartans 75-42 on the road. 

Miller finished the game with 23 points, and contributed in all facets of the game.At his vital point guard position, essentially deciding the tempo of the entire offense, Miller has been instrumental in the huge surge of the Irish this season.Head coach Ron Lampe is very happy with the play of his senior captain.“Miller has been great,” said Lampe after the game. “He does everything I ask and more. He’s a great team player and we’re lucky to have him.”

The game was close through a quarter and a half when senior guard Sean Bellotti came up with a big block that completely changed the momentum of the game. Bellotti, son of former Oregon head football coach Mike Bellotti, has been a great contributor coming off of the bench.

Marist went into the second quarter with a 19-16 lead, but a one-sided second and early third quarter gave the Irish a 54-33 lead. After that, Sheldon never looked back.“We went on a good run there,” said Lampe. “We started hitting our jumpers as well as making smart passes and moving the ball. We didn’t want to have a shootout, but just play our style of basketball.”The Irish did just that, playing an up-tempo offense, and have been effective with that approach lately.After starting the season 2-4, Sheldon has gone on a 14-1 run (currently an eight game win streak) and have won most of those in convincing fashion. The Irish took care of business in their other two games this past week, blowing out North Eugene on the road 80-60 on Saturday and a 73-38 victory over Springfield.

The 16-5 Irish have secured a spot in the 6A playoffs. They can now either choose to rest up or try and improve their seeding. Sheldon plays Grant on Friday and South Eugene on Tuesday.

For the Spartans, their 12-8 record has them in the 5A tournament, but not at a very high seed. With two games this week against Marshfield (Friday) and Willamette (Tuesday), Marist could make a serious push with two likely victories.

Around the Rest of the League:

Churchill Lancers:


Churchill bounced back from a disappointing loss to Marshfield and swept their next three games in blowout fashion (margin of 30 points per game).  They cruised to winsover Willamette, Thurston, and Marist. The 17-4 Lancers are playoff bound and can rest for the next two weeks before the playoffs.  Churchill ranks No. 3 in 5A, and will play North Eugene and Springfield this week.North Eugene Highlanders:

At 8-12, North Eugene is close to taking its last breath. The Highlanders went 1-2 this week with a 15-point loss at Springfield, a 20-point loss against Sheldon,  followed by an 8-point win over South Eugene.North plays at Churchill on Friday, and then will be at home against Marshfield on Tuesday. North needs a sweep this week to have any shot at keeping their slim playoff hopes alive.South Eugene Axemen:

This was another bad week for South as they lost all three of their games.  Their 3-18 record and weak strength of schedule has them ranked 38th out of 43 teams in the 6A league.The Axemen will face Springfield and Sheldon this week, and they would do well to win one more game this season for momentum going into the 2012-13 campaign.Willamette Wolverines:

The 8-13 Wolverines are in a similar position as North Eugene. Willamette ranks a disappointing 26th in the 5A rankings, due to their poor OWP (opponent winning percentage).After an 86-41 blowout loss to Churchill on Thursday, the Wolverines bounced back with a much needed win over Marshfield.  The Wolverines play at Thurston on Friday and at Marist on Tuesday. They need to win both for playoff hopes and overall pride.Prep Game Of The Week:EDN will be live-blogging again.  This time, we’ll be at Sheldon on Friday night, when the Irish face the visting Grant Generals.  The game is a potential playoff preview of sorts, so stop by the website around 7pm to catch all the action.

Irish Cruise The Quarterfinals With Win Over Generals

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— Alex Shoemaker, EDN

Before the game started, the two teams faced each other at midfield and exchanged a few choice words. Sheldon and Grant squared off on Friday night in an OSAA 6A quarterfinals matchup. The Generals were supposed to be a tougher joust than last week for the Irish. However, it was another mismatch as Sheldon prevailed 49-7 in front of the home crowd.

Sheldon's Connor Strahm running far ahead of the Generals on Friday night.

On the first play from scrimmage, quarterback Dillion Miller and receiver Connor Strahm connected on a 51-yard bubble screen to put the ball on the 9-yard line.

Three star offensive weapons — Miller, Strahm and Ryan Land — led the Irish offensively.

Miller is one of the best quarterbacks in the entire state of Oregon with 212 of 310 completions for 2,886 yards. He’s also thrown 33 touchdowns against four interceptions. His favorite target, Strahm, has brought in 72 receptions for 1,224 yards with 15 touchdowns.

The Irish also have a powerful run game, led by Land, who has a team leading 724 yards rushing. Unfortunately, Land was lost for the season against South Medford when he ruptured his kidney.

Grant quarterback Paris Penn looking for an open receiver.

Strahm had a huge first half with four touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing and one passing). 

“It was a team effort,” said Strahm, “but I had a good game. It was a great half.”

Strahm punched the ball in on a 3-yard run to put the Irish up 7-0. The 6-play drive lasted less than a minute.

On the Generals’ first possession, quarterback Paris Penn tossed an interception to Strahm, who then returned it to Grant’s 35-yard line. The Generals’ offense has tended to be very one-dimensional by relying heavily on Penn.

He had completed 100 of 177 passes for 1,777 yards on the 2011 season with 18 touchdowns and just six interceptions (prior to Friday night’s game). Penn is also the leading rusher for the Generals with 943 yards rushing on 103 carries, and it is clear that the success of the offense depends on the productivity of their signal caller.

Sheldon linebacker Tanner Zent and the Irish defense did not let the Generals' offense get ahead of them.

Strahm stated that the key to their defensive success was because they didn’t let the Generals’ strong offense get ahead of them. 

“We played great,” he said. “We kept everything in front of us.”

Later on, Miller and Strahm connected again for a 22-yard screen pass for a touchdown. That gave the Irish a 14-0 lead with 41 seconds remaining in the first quarter.

In the second quarter, Strahm and Miller hooked up once more on a 10-yard play action touchdown pass to give the Irish a commanding 21-0 lead. On their next possession, facing a fourth down situation, Strahm completed a 1-yard TD pass to receiver Sean Bellotti for 28-0 halftime advantage.

Bellotti, son of former University of Oregon head football coach and athletic director, is a starting receiver, cornerback and kicker.

In the third quarter, Bellotti caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Miller to extend the Irish lead to 35-0.

With little time remaining in the third quarter, Dawson Housley punched the ball in on an 18-yard touchdown run to increase the advantage to 42-0.

Dillon Miller hands off to Cameron Herr during Sheldon's rout of Grant.

Grant finally got on the board in the fourth quarter on a 15-yard run by Penn. But by then it was 49-7, and the Irish were getting ready to celebrate another victory.

The Generals’ 2011 season ends at 9-3 with hopes of a state championship now over. Grant will have a lot of production to replace for next season, losing their leading passer and rusher (Penn).

As for Sheldon (now 12-0), they’re one step closer to the state championship. They will face off against Central Catholic on December 3 in the state semifinals in Portland.

The winner will earn a place in the championship game at Jeld-Wen Field in Portland (home of the Portland Timbers). The Irish remain one of just three undefeated teams (along with Tigard and Lake Oswego) and should be heavy favorites to win out and take the 6A State Title.

 

Irish Punch Out Cardinals

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Sam Finley, EDN Sports Editor

It wasn’t just the weather that was cold on Friday night at Sheldon High School.  Aside from the 30-something degree temperature, it took the Irish football team a little while to warm up as well.  In the end, the Irish pulled out a 45-21 victory over the Lincoln Cardinals in the second round of the 6A OSAA playoffs.

Sheldon quarterback Dillon Miller throws a pass against Lincoln. (Photo Credit: Jon Morgan)

“I’m just glad this one is over with and that we’re moving on,” claimed Johnson.

Don’t let the scoreboard fool you.  The second-ranked Irish came out flat in this one. Ironically, they found themselves in an unfamiliar position early in the first quarter.  Usually the aggressors, the Sheldon defense was reeling on Lincoln’s opening drive, as Cardinals’ quarterback Johnny Williams marched his team down the field for an early 7-0 lead.  It marked the first time all year that the Irish started a game trailing.

“We just didn’t hit on the cylinders that we’ve been hitting on,” said Johnson of the slow start.  “I don’t have answer for it.  I guess I didn’t do a very good job getting our team prepared, but we’re still playing.”

By the same token, Johnson was quick to give credit to his opponents’ efforts.

Connor Strahm runs for some of his 269 yards of total offense on Friday. (Photo Credit: Jon Morgan)

“I think 90 percent of it might be the job that Lincoln did,” he said. “They were very well prepared and their kids are tough and physical.  They kind of took it to us. We answered a couple of knock down shots, so I’m proud of our kids.”

Indeed, the Irish did answer a couple of haymakers with a few blows of their own.  They quickly answered Lincoln’s scoring drive with one of their own that ended with a short touchdown run by junior running back Connor Strahm, who was the Cardinal killer during the evening.

Strahm did it with his feet by running for 100 yards on 12 carries.  He was just as nimble with his hands by catching five passes for 169 yards.  In the end, he wound up with five touchdowns and had 269 of Sheldons 366 yards of total offense.

“Connor took over for us on both sides of the ball,” Johnson explained. “He’s an outstanding football player who has a shiftiness to him that, in my 26 years of coaching, I’ve rarely seen.”

That shiftiness came in handy in the second quarter, when he took a direct snap and darted his way into the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown.  That gave the Irish a 14-7 advantage, Strahm wasn’t done yet.

On Lincoln’s next series, Strahm displayed his defensive prowess by picking off a pass from Williams and took it to the Cardinals’ nine yard line.  Shortly thereafter, Strahm caught a short pass from Dillon Miller, extending their lead to 20-7.

In the third quarter, it appeared as if Strahm had delivered a knock out blow with a 39-yard touch down run on the opening drive.  The Irish were suddenly up 29-7 and the Cardinals were reeling, right?  Wrong.

Connor Strahm dives into the end zone for a score. (Photo Credit: Jon Morgan)

Sheldon’s defense showed some inconsistency during the course of the evening, too. There were great moments when defensive tackle Jacob Foutz delivered two wicked sacks on Williams. However, when Williams didn’t go down, he was scrambling every which way and making plays.  This was why Lincoln managed two quick scores to close the gap at 29-21.

“We are a great defensive team when we stay on our feet and tackle,” Johnson said. “But when we start to go to the ground, we become really average.  Their quarterback is really slippery.  I don’t have an answer for why we couldn’t tackle him, but he did a great job of eluding us.”

In the end, Lincoln could only elude the Irish so often. In the fourth quarter, Miller calmed any anxieties from the Sheldon faithful by throwing a four-yard touchdown pass to Cameron Herr that essentially locked up the game.  After that, the Cardinals seemed to lose focus, and couldn’t quite get back on track for the rest of the night.

As a result, Sheldon will move on to face the Grant Generals this coming Friday. Still, Johnson emphasized that he expected a better effort out of his team in the next game.

“We’re still playing,” Johnson explained. “But we’re not as sharp as we need to be.  We were just flat.  I guarantee we’ll be better next week.”

As has been the case the last two playoff games, the Irish will have the home field advantage again.  Now, according to Johnson, the key will be to get back to playing the way that got them in this position in the first place.

“Getting to play here is huge for us,” he said. “We just need to play with the spunk that we had for the first 10 weeks of the season that we didn’t have tonight.”