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Tornado faces state juggernaut

PORTLAND — The numbers are staggering. Ten state championships, three national titles, 25 league crowns and 21 consecutive trophies earned at the girls state basketball tournament.

It's easy to see why North Medford coach Tim Karrick feels the odds are stacked against his squad when it takes on third-ranked Oregon City today in a Class 6A state tournament game.

"It's going to be a tough task," said Karrick. "They're a very talented team and they've been to the state tournament so many times."

Karrick's team will get their shot at the monumental upset at 3:15 today when the seventh-ranked and Southwest Conference-champion Black Tornado squares off against the Three Rivers League winner Pioneers at 3:15 in a quarterfinal contest at the Chiles Center on the University of Portland campus.

This will be Oregon City's 23rd straight trip to the state tournament. North Medford is making just its second in the last 10 years and first since 2005.

But Karrick isn't sold on the notion his team has no shot against Oregon's premier girls team over the last two decades.

"If ever there was a group of girls that can do this," he said, "It's this one."

North Medford (22-5) is one of three SWC squads that qualified for the eight-team tournament. South Eugene, the conference's No. 2 seed, meets top-ranked and three-time defending state champion Southridge at 8:15 tonight, while third-seeded Sheldon matches up with No. 2-ranked Central Catholic at 6:30 this evening.

Oregon City (21-3) has not won a state championship since the 2004 season, but this year's squad has lost only one game to a team from Oregon — a 51-35 defeat against Southridge on Jan. 21 — and is coming off winning its 12th consecutive TRL title.

The Pioneers have won nine straight since the setback to Southridge, including a nip-and-tuck, 56-51 victory over Jesuit in a state-playoff game last Saturday.

In that victory, Oregon City had four players score in double-figures, something that has been common place for this season's squad.

"We are pretty balanced," said Pioneers' coach Kurt Guelsdorf, in his second year as head coach after spending the three previous seasons sharing the honor with Brad Smith. "We emphasize that because I've found that successful teams move the ball around and get everyone involved."

The high-scoring Pioneers are led by sophomore 5-foot-11 post Brittany Knighton, who is averaging around 15 points per outing.

Ashley Reed, a 6-foot post, also adds height for Oregon City, while point guard Kenna Borgmeier, one of four seniors on the roster, will man the ship against North Medford's full-court pressure.

"On paper, this looks like it could be a high-scoring game," said Guelsdorf. "But you go to a different place like the Chiles Center, plus the nerves involved with an opening-round game and you just never know.

"I think we'll do our best to slow down a really good North Medford team."

The Black Tornado, which routed Redmond 48-29 last Saturday to clinch a state tournament berth, counters with plenty of senior leadership behind 5-11 post Erica Schultz, Whitney Hodnett, Jana Parker and Kellie Satterfield.

Schultz, at 15 points per game, leads the North attack, while Hodnett adds plenty of versatility and Satterfield and Parker provide a strong defensive presence to key the Tornado's man-to-man, defensive pressure.

"I think we can match up with them," said Karrick. "They're not a real big team, but they're very physical and they offensive rebound very well.

"We're going to go there and give it our best shot."

Reach reporter Kevin Goff at 776-4483, or e-mail kgoff@mailtribune.com