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A program on the rise

Oregon City guys are tough in summer basketball -


Oregon City High School’s top boys basketball team made some noise over the summer.

Playing without two players who were among their top scorers as underclassmen last winter and playing what Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk termed “a very tough schedule,” the Pioneers still won close to 60 percent of the 30 games that they played. And they finished things off in impressive fashion July 22-28, when they won six of seven games to finish second in their bracket of a tournament in Las Vegas.

Photo Credit: PHOTO BY CHRIS MENGIS SR. - Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk maps out strategies during a Las Vegas Tournament game played at Clark High School. Pictured are: (seated, left to right) Chris Mengis, Briggs Young, Mason Martin, Austin DeWitz and Teron Bradford; and (standing) assistant coach Bryce Fisher, Chase Kaloust, Tanner Fowler, Jake Sather, Austin Sillett, Jake Vetter, Ben Sisul and Chris Figert.Junior-to-be Trevon Bradford, a 5-11 guard who averaged 11.4 points last winter, played basketball sparingly over the summer while he concentrated on football; senior-to-be Hunter Knighton, a 6-2 guard who averaged a team-high 14.7 points last winter, missed play this summer while he recuperated from surgery on a hand.

“We’re going to have a lot more depth,” said Oregon City coach Aaron Newkirk. “We’ve had some tough competition this summer.... The kids are gaining in confidence and we’ll be better this year, and a lot better the year after. The team has great togetherness. They work really hard and they play well together.”

Among those adding to the depth are Ben Sisul, a 6-2 junior-to-be who has transferred from La Salle; and Jake Sather, a 6-3 senior-to-be who has transferred in from Sherwood.

“Ben Sisul is a longtime Oregon City resident,” Newkirk said. “He’s an incredible leaper. He can dunk it with his elbows. He’s the best leaper we’ve had here.”

Newkirk says that Sather will add depth at post, while Sisul will add depth at the wing.

Newkirk says that seniors-to-be Austin DeWitz (6-5 wing) and Chris Mengis (6-2 post), and junior-to-be Briggs Young (5-10 guard) were standouts for the Pioneers over the summer.

“DeWitz had an awesome summer,” he said. “He averaged a double-double. He averaged close to 20 points and he was also our leading rebounder. He’s getting attention from colleges....”

“Mengis had a great summer as well. I spent time with him one-on-one in the spring, working on his post moves. He’s improved his outside game. He also averaged double-doubles....

“Briggs Young had a really good summer. He was our second leading scorer and our team leader in assists.”

Newkirk says he also liked what he saw from incoming freshman Teron Bradford. A 6-0 guard who is a brother of Trevon, Teron hit the game-winner at the buzzer in a quarterfinal game with Texas Team Pride in the tournament in Las Vegas.

Among other top contributors during the summer were senior-to-be Mason Martin (6-0 guard); juniors-to-be Chase Kaloust (6-3 post) and Austin Sillett; and sophomores-to-be Tanner Smith (6-2 wing), Chris Figert (6-0 guard), Tanner Fowler (6-4 post) and Jacob Vetter (6-0 guard).

At Las Vegas, the Pioneers won six straight games, before losing to the Tucson Roadrunners 55-49 in their bracket championship game. They defeated Texas Fire 50 in the quarterfinals 52-50 and Berkeley Red Devils in the semifinals 54-53.

“Fouls killed us in the championship game [with Tucson],” said Newkirk. “We had beaten them earlier, but in the final, Mengis fouled out in the first half and DeWitz fouled out in the second half.”

The Pioneers won a 16-team tournament hosted by Canby in June, a tournament that included teams from Clackamas and from Tualatin.

They advanced all the way to the semifinals of the Curtis Shootout in Tacoma, Washington, dropping a one-point game to the host team, which went on to breeze to the tournament championship.

The Pioneers gave two-time defending Class 5A champion Jefferson a run for its money in dropping a close game to the Democrats. And they took Lake Oswego to overtime in a loss.

They also travelled to Chicago, where they learned what it’s like to play against physical ball clubs from that area of the country.

“Overall we had our best summer in the last three years,” Newkirk said. “Lots of reasons for optimism for the upcoming season.”



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