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SOC girls make bid for state tournament

Crater, Ashland and North Medford all have crucial playoff games

The road to the mecca of Oregon girls basketball ' the University of Portland's Chiles Center ' begins today for Crater, Thursday for Ashland and Saturday for North Medford.

To make it to the Class 4A state tournament at Chiles from March 4-8, the Comets must win three games, the Grizzlies two and the Black Tornado one.

Crater (14-11), fresh off its tiebreaking win over South Medford on Saturday to secure the Southern Oregon Conference's fourth seed, plays at Corvallis tonight at 7.

The Spartans (13-11) are the fourth seed out of the Valley League, where they finished 11-7 in league play.

The two teams last met in last year's state tourney, the Comets earning a 59-41 victory in consolation action the day after their championship dreams were dashed.

With a win in tonight's first-round playoff contest, Crater would move on to travel to Lake Oswego for a 7:30 p.m. game Thursday. The seventh-ranked Lakers placed third in the ultra-competitive Three Rivers League, which also boasts No. 1-ranked Oregon City and No. 5 Lakeridge.

A second victory would send the Comets to St. Mary's of Portland on Saturday. The Blues are the second seed out of the Mt. Hood Conference.

Finally, a third successful road outing would give Crater a berth in the state tournament, where it would arrive as the G team and meet No. 9 Tigard, the Pac-9 Conference champion, in a 7 p.m. game March 5.

For Ashland (17-8), the journey begins Thursday, when the Grizzlies will host the winner of tonight's Reynolds-McNary contest.

Reynolds is No. 4 out of the Mt. Hood, while host McNary took third in the Valley but still has to play in the first round.

With a win in its second-round affair, Ashland, the No. — seed out of the SOC, would go to Tualatin on Saturday. The Timberwolves are the second seed out of the Pac-9.

The winner of that game enters the state tournament as the A team and would meet Redmond, the Intermountain Conference champion, at 1:30 p.m. on March 4.

As for North Medford (15-9), it can earn a trip to Portland with a home victory Saturday.

The second seed out of the SOC by virtue of its 10-4 league mark and season sweep of Ashland, the Tornado will face either Southridge, West Linn or Grant on Saturday.

West Linn, No. 4 out of the Three Rivers, hosts Grant, the Portland Interscholastic League's fourth seed, tonight in the first round.

The winner plays at Southridge, the Metro League's No. 3, Thursday.

If North can win its third-round game, it will get to Chiles as the B team and meet Sheldon at — p.m. March 4.

Fourth-ranked Roseburg, the SOC's undefeated champion, has clinched a spot in the state tournament and will play its first game there at — p.m. on March 5.