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OC hoop coaches are in the swim of things


Oregon City High School boys basketball players had extra motivation last Friday, when they knocked off Lake Oswego for the second time this season, 58-55, in overtime.

“We told the kids if they won we’d jump into the Clackamas River in our suits [that we wear to games],” said Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk. “I don’t know if it had any affect on how they played, but they won, and we took a polar plunge. We try to find any way we can to motivate the kids and [our taking the swim in our suits following the game] will make a good memory.... It’s a way to keep things in perspective and have some fun in what has been an up-and-down season.”

Newkirk said that because his players stayed to watch Oregon City girls play, the coaches videotaped their evening swim to replay for the players.

“We went all the way under,” said Newkirk. “It didn’t feel that cold, because we get pretty warm in our suits during games.”

Friday’s win at Oregon City was the Pioneers’ second overtime win over Lake Oswego this season. They won 67-62 in a Jan. 31 game at Lake Oswego, with Brad Martin (25 points) and Briggs Young (22 points) leading the way. It’s the first time since 2010 that an Oregon City boys basketball team has swept the Lakers.

“Great job by our kids, getting the season sweep of what has been one of the premiere programs in our state the past decade,” said Newkirk. “We had an outstanding game from Austin DeWitz. Not only did he score the basketball with great consistency and confidence, but he also guarded the leading scorer in our league [Jazz Johnson, 20 ppg] and held him to seven points below his season average.”

Newkirk also had praise for freshmen Tanner Smith and Chris Figert.

“With two players out with broken bones [Trevon Bradford and Hunter Knighton] and two players fouling out [Brad Martin and Chris Mengis], Tanner Smith and Chris Figert stepped in and played significant roles. They both played hard and with confidence. They didn’t get rattled at all....

“Also, it was senior night, and [senior post] Ryan Markuson played a huge role, controlling the paint and hitting free throws in overtime.”

DeWitz, a 6-5 junior, had a career night, taking the ball to the basket and hitting 8-of-9 field goals and 11-of-14 free throws — for a career-and game-high 27 points. He also claimed a team-high seven rebounds, rejected two shots, guarded Jazz Johnson for five quarters and held him to 13 points [two points at halftime], and brought the ball up the floor, serving as point guard in the absence of Bradford.