Summit will be seeking its first-ever boys basketball state championship after finishing as runner up the past two seasons
Summit will be seeking its first-ever boys basketball state championship after finishing as runner up the past two seasons

Chris Roche, the head coach at two-time reigning 5A champion Wilsonville, has called top-seeded Summit a “massive” favorite to win the 2024 OSAA / OnPoint Community Credit Union 5A Boys Basketball Championships when they get underway on Wednesday at Linfield University.

If he knew everything about Summit’s story, beyond the Storm’s play on the court, he might view them as favorites for another reason: a favorite kind of team to coach.

Summit, you see, is a true “neighborhood” team. The Storm’s eight seniors started playing together formally in fourth grade but were probably calling “bank” and scraping knees on gravel courts long before that.

“The players have grown up together,” said Summit head coach Jon Frazier. “I believe their ‘connectivity’ is what has led to their high school success.

This group was always talented, especially as football and basketball players, and brought their youthful achievements – the middle school basketball team won a state championship, for instance – to their high school careers. At least three of the seniors won a state football championship in the fall of 2022. Two were on the varsity basketball team as sophomores when Summit played for the 6A state title. Five were on the basketball team that was the top-seed at state last winter but fell to Wilsonville in the state championship game.

“They each have had their unique athletic journeys, with many of them playing multiple sports and excelling in various sports,” Frazier explained. “Charlie Crowell will be playing football at UW next season and Pax Kettering will be playing football at Duke. Collin Moore is a state champion high jumper and football player, and Mac Bledsoe was a state champion football player.”

Then there is Pearson Carmichael, a Boise State basketball signee, the 2022-2023 5A state Player of the Year and the state’s leading scorer this season.

“Pearson over the years has put in an incredible amount of time in the gym to turn himself into the player he is today,” Frazier said. “He is truly a testament to hard work and dedication.”

Though each of the seniors is unique in his individual talents, they have grown together as a group over the years.

“Their collective commitment has forced all of them to grow and become the best versions of themselves,” Frazier said. “Despite their various paths, these boys have supported each other throughout and they lift each other up constantly.”

Despite all of their success, including a 48-2 league record over the past four years, one thing that has eluded this group of seniors is a state title in boys basketball. Indeed, no Summit team has ever won a state title in the sport.

Frazier said it would be nice to get it done this week, but it’s not the goal and will not tarnish the legacy of this group should it not happen.

He emphasized that last year, when the Storm fell short of winning state despite being the top seed, the loss wasn’t viewed so much as a disappointment but as a learning experience and another chapter in the team’s journey.

“They have been even more committed and focused this season and they are excited about the opportunity to chase that championship this season!” Frazier said. “Without some adversity you can never build resiliency. This group has become extremely mature and resilient this season.”

The team this year has been very focused while building a resume that includes an undefeated record against 5A opponents. Led by their seniors, the Storm have never looked too far ahead and have grown whether winning or losing.

This group is very special to me because of their ability to live in the moment and enjoy the journey,” Frazier explained. “They have the unique ability to have fun and play with joy, while also being fiercely competitive. Their daily approach is so much fun to coach and the relationships they have formed will last for years to come. Our goal this year has always been to ‘compete against the vision of how good we can be.’ That is the standard we are chasing and if it leads to a State Championship, great. But we will not judge the success or failure of our season based on wins/losses. Success in our program is based on three things.... Did we reach our potential? Do you have any regrets? And will you be teammates for life?”

Win or lose this weekend, the seniors on Summit’s team will be able to answer each question by saying “yes;” the third question resoundingly so.

Let’s take a look at the quarterfinal state tournament matchups:

5A boys quarterfinals, Wednesday, Linfield University

No. 9 Mountain View (16-10) vs. No. 1 Summit (21-4), 1:30 pm:

Mountain View had a short state tournament run a year ago, as the Cougars lost its two games by an average of 15 points. The Cougars are back as a 9-seed after edging Crater on the road in the first round, with a senior-laden team and essentially the same standouts, led by three-time First Team All-Conference point guard Quincy Townsend, who averaged 23 points and five assists per game this season. Ian Prictor, a 6-8 senior center averaging 16 points and 10 rebounds a game; and 6-3 senior forward Kole Hendricks, who scores eight a game with five rebounds; are the other players to watch on this team, which has never been to a state final. If the Cougars get there this year, they will have to go through Summit, a conference rival that has defeated them by more than 20 points in each of three meetings this season. Head coach Bob Townsend said the first two games were close at halftime, meaning Mountain View has had stretches of playing point for point with the Storm. The Cougars will need to limit Summit’s runs and slow the Storm in transition to have a chance…Summit comes to Linfield riding a 16-game winning streak. The top-seeded Storm’s four losses have come versus 3A state champion Cascade Christian and three teams playing in the 6A tournament this week. Pearson Carmichael, a 6-7 wing; and Coolin Moore, a 6-2 lead guard; are the top players on a deep, tall and senior-rich team still looking for its first state title after finishing second in 6A two years ago and second in 5A last year.

No. 5 West Albany (22-4) vs. No. 4 Woodburn (21-4), 3:15 pm:

West Albany made the state tournament five years ago. Last year, when coach Drew Halvorson was in his first year, the Bulldogs made the state playoffs but lost in round 1 to eventual champion Wilsonville. West Albany is the highest scoring team in 5A and is led by First Team All-Conference performers Brysen Kachel, a 6-3 senior forward who averages 17 points and six rebounds a game; and 6-1 junior guard Gavin Aguilar, who averages 10 point, four rebounds and four assists per contest. Three other players earned at least Honorable Mention All-Conference recognition, including 6-3 junior Owen Hopkins, another double-digit scorer. West Albany is a capable squad and proved it with a win over two-time defending 5A champion Wilsonville at the Capitol City Classic. The Bulldogs have twice played quarterfinal opponent Woodburn, a conference foe, losing by eight and by one in low-scoring affairs…Woodburn made the state tournament last year for the first time since making the 4A semifinals in 2019, but went 0-2. The Bulldogs were routed by Wilsonville and lost a close game to La Salle Prep. This year’s team improved one game in the win column and defeated Wilsonville by 10 in their only meeting, so there is reason for optimism. Cruz Veliz, a junior point guard and the Conference POY, is the catalyst for the Bulldogs. He averages close to 20 points per game, while adding five rebounds, four steals and 4.5 assists. Two other seniors average in double figures, 6-9 senior Liam Slattum, who is good offensively inside and on the perimeter, and also averages three blocks per game; and Brody Hawley, a 6-4 senior who averages 11 points and seven rebounds a game. Both have two years’ experience playing for Woodburn after transferring from West Salem. Three other underclassmen, Anthony Figueredo, Dylon Renteria and Fernando Del Rio, figure into the plans for Woodburn, the first back-to-back league champions in program history. “We are a team that focuses on the defensive side of the game first and then get to our balanced attack on the offensive side,” said coach Raul Veliz

No. 6 Putnam (21-4) v. No. 3 North Eugene (22-4), 6:30 pm:

Putnam was 14-10 a year ago and missed the playoffs. The Kingsmen hired a new head coach -- alumnus Ali Mihub – and put greater emphasis on defense. The byproduct was a school record for most regular-season wins and a trip to the state quarterfinals for the first time in more than 30 years. Putnam comes to Linfield having lost only to Wilsonville (twice) in its last 19 games. The team’s starting five all average more than 10 points per game, with 6-2 junior wing Jaiden Pickett setting the team standard at almost 17 points a contest. Senior Lennon Greenleaf is the team assist leader, averaging eight a game; and senior Brooklynd Latta is Putnam’s rebounding king at eight a game. Putnam is an experienced team with four senior starters and played North Eugene close in a low-scoring contest late in December. The Kingsmen are confident and a live underdog against the Highlanders in the quarterfinal round…There are 10 seniors on North Eugene’s roster, including guards Joey Banry and Elias McKinnis; and wings Kamani Winger, India Mohiuddin and Caiden Gould. The past two years have been amazing for the Highlanders, who were 10-14 two years ago; made the state tournament and placed fourth last year and is 22-4 and a tournament favorite in 2024. If North Eugene goes all the way, it will take home it first blue trophy since 2007.

No. 7 Redmond (18-8) v. No. 2 Wilsonville (23-3), 8:15 pm:

Redmond lost some big-time seniors off of last year’s second consecutive state tournament fifth-place finishing team and was predicted to come in fifth in the six-team Intermountain Conference, yet here are the Panthers at state for the third straight year. The team has five seniors, but the majority of its top players are underclassmen, led by First Team All-Conference point guard Ian Pearson, who averages 13 points and 5.5 assists per game; and Second Team All-Conference shooting guard Wyatt Horner, the team’s leading scorer and a 40 percent shooter from three-point land. Others to watch include juniors Jack Snyder and Ukiah Monson and senior Ryker Altizer. Redmond last won state in 2003 and might be hard-pressed to get by Wilsonville, a team it lost by 25 to in early December in the first round. But the Panthers’ full-court pressure defense, fast style of play and offensive balance could have Reagan Gilbertson’s team playing for fourth in 2024, or even better with a key win or two…Wilsonville is the two-time defending state champion and has been the dominant team in 5A since 2016, amassing five titles since that time. The Wildcats will not be favored to win in 2024, but they weren’t favored in 2023 and still have some very good pieces to lean on in their quest for a threepeat. The top player is Northwest Oregon Conference POY Kallen Gutridge, a 6-4 senior guard averaging 20 points, 4.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game. He’s a strong, unorthodox lefty who led the football team to the state title in the fall as a record-setting quarterback. Other threats for Chris Roche’s team include 6-7 senior wing Kyle Counts, who is a handful when healthy and he is healthy; and 6-5 junior Emmitt Fee, a bruising post averaging 10 points and almost seven rebounds a game. The last two years, despite having many talented taller players, guard play has catalyzed Wilsonville’s state championship runs. Both of those players, including Maxim Wu last year, have graduated. Will it be senior guard Nick Colyer stepping up this post-season? He averages four assists per game for a Wildcat team that enters the state tournament on an 18-game winning streak,

5A girls quarterfinals, Thursday, Linfield University

No. 9 Mountain View (16-10) vs. No. 1 Silverton (21-4), 1:30 pm:

We wrote last year that Mountain View was a dangerous 10-seed, and the Cougars were blown out twice in an 0-2 experience at the state tournament. Jon Corbett’s team is one better as a 9-seed this year, is coming off a first-round win over 2023 state runner up Crescent Valley, to make the tournament, and comes to state having won 14 of its previous 15 games. The Cougars are led by Intermountain Conference POY Kasey Booster; a 5-8 senior guard; and 6-2 senior post Avery Andrews. Mountain View has never been in a championship game and is making its second consecutive state tournament appearance after missing The Show the previous 10 seasons. But this Cougar team is hot and has the talent to pull off a major surprise or two if taken lightly…Silverton comes to state as the top seed and winners of 18 of the last 19 contests. The Foxes, who finished fourth at state last year, are looking for their first title since 2016 and fourth overall. Second-year head coach Alyssa Ogle will rely on Mid-Willamette League POY Kyleigh Brown, a high-scoring senior guard. Silverton also boasts all-league players Grace Hayashida and Justina Smerikov, who combine to average 17 points and eight rebounds per game. This isn’t a tall team, with no player taller than Hayashida and Olivia Boyd at 5-11, but the Foxes set a record this year for most league wins, so winning is in their DNA.

No. 5 Redmond (21-4) vs. No. 4 Wilsonville (21-6), 3:15 pm:

Redmond is a young team that improved eight games in the win column after missing the playoffs last year. There are five seniors on the Panther roster, but the All-Conference performers are three juniors and one sophomore. The sophomore, 5-4 guard Mylaena Norton, is the team’s leading scorer, at 15 per, and also averages three steals and two assists per game. Junior Dylan Cheney, a 5-6 guard, averages 12 points per game and is strong from long range. Junior Azlynn Ure is a 5-2 junior guard who scores, assists and is a menace on defense. The Panthers have power in the paint with 6-0 junior Aspen Morris and 5-10 senior Peyton Stewart, a four-sport standout who two weeks ago placed at the state wrestling tournament! Redmond started the season 3-3 but comes to Linfield winners of 18 of its last 19, including a 10-point decision in the first round over a Putnam team that was a state qualifier a year ago…Wilsonville is also hot and has won 14 of its previous 15 contests. The Wildcats are led by three double-digit scorers, sophomore guard Gabi Moultre, a 1,000 point career scorer who averages 18 points and eight assists per game; junior forward Payton Ratcliffe, who contributes12 points and 7.5 rebounds per game; and 5-10 junior Audrey Counts, who fills the stat sheet to the tune of 13 points, seven rebounds, four steals and three assists per contest. This is Wilsonville’s first trip back to the state quarterfinals since 2020, when the Wildcats were into the semifinals before Covid canceled the rest of the tournament. The team last won state in 2002, the second of back-to-back titles for the Wildcats.

No. 6 South Albany (20-6) vs. No. 3 Corvallis (21-5), 6:30 pm:

South Albany made its first trip to the state tournament last year and went 0-2. The RedHawks come to Linfield this year having won 20 or more games for the second straight year and with the team’s key contributors all sophomores. Taylor Donaldson and Kaylee Cordle, in their second seasons, are First Team All-Conference performers. Donaldson has scored more than 1,000 career points and averages, 21 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and two steals a game. Cordle contributes 12 points, seven boards, two steals and two assists per contest. Of the four seniors on the roster, Ryleigh Parker and Ava Marshall are the ones to watch. Parker will play hoops at Corbin while Marshall is off to Northern Colorado for soccer. South Albany will face its Mid-Willamette Conference rival Corvallis in the quarterfinal, having won the two meetings over the higher-seeded Spartans by double digits…Corvallis has nine players back from the playoff team that lost in the first round to third-place finisher La Salle Prep. The Spartans are 0-2 versus South Albany this year but have split contests with No. 1 Silverton. In the game they won, they controlled the boards and limited Silverton to one shot. The team, coached by Dan Miller, has a balanced offense, with seniors Marlee Hammer, Holland Jensen and Taylor Brasfield all scoring 10 or more points a game. Hammer is the team’s leading rebounder; Jensen is a strong defender and Brasfield is a speedy athlete who can finish with contact with either hand. Keep your eye on junior point guard Kate Rueck, the team’s assist leader; versatile senior Layne Griffin, sophomore post Parker Doerr and junior post Sofia Robel, who has been a factor the past three games after missing most of the year with an injury. She could be the X-factor if the team makes a run. Corvallis is strong defensively and likes to pressure half court and run in transition. One more thing: Coach Miller highlighted the importance of senior manager Alex Craven, saying “She is a critical difference maker for us. Her teammates listen to her and she holds them accountable by tracking key stats during games. She is not shy about talking during timeouts or to teammates on the bench. She is an integral part of our team and our success.” So maybe there are two X-factors… 

No. 7 Springfield (18-8) vs. No. 2 Crater (24-1), 8:15 pm:

Springfield is the defending state champion and returns its superstar in three-time conference and two-time 5A state POY Danaeja Romero-Ah Sam, who averaged 18 points, four rebounds, five steals and five assists per game this year. She is complemented by All-Conference junior Diamond Wright, who averages 17 points and five rebounds a game; and sophomore Darissa Romero-Ah Sam, who averages nine points and three steals per contest. This is not, however, the same Miller team that won state for the first time since 2012 with a young roster. The other two All-Tournament performers are no longer with the team, as one opted for club volleyball over basketball, and another went back to her home state of Georgia in December. Joe Williamson’s team also lost a potential future DI player, junior Ryan Marshall, to a knee injury, and have also seen Kayla Morris and Kimora Wright miss time due to injury. Springfield hopes to have both back in Linfield…Crater comes to Linfield on a 21-game winning streak, with two of those wins over Springfield, one by 10, the other by two points after coming from behind in the fourth period. The Comets finished fifth a year ago with only one senior on the roster and have had a great season, leading 5A in both most points scored and fewest points allowed. The top players are all juniors: Sage Winslow, the co-POY in the Midwestern League, averages 19 points, six steals, four assists and four rebounds a game. All-League performer Addison Dippel averages 11 points and three steals a game and 6-4 Lydia Traore, another All-League standout, contributes 10 points, eight rebounds and three blocks per contest. One senior, Abigail Winslow, starts and averages 10 points, five rebounds and three steals a game, but the other six seniors are part of a deep impact bench that contributes both in leadership and with a veteran presence when their numbers are called.