PENDLETON — The Union Bobcats are back in the 2A girls state basketball tournament for the first time since 2015 when they placed third. They will take their 14-game winning streak and stout defense into a quarterfinal matchup with Portland Christian Thursday at 8:15 p.m. at Pendleton High School.
This will be the first meeting between the teams since the 2014 state tournament, when Union edged the Royals 36-29 in the fourth-place game. To reach the quarterfinals, Union (24-3 overall) routed Lakeview 65-31 in the first round, while Portland Christian (24-4), which has won 12 of its last 13 games, took down Lost River on the road, 42-35.
The Bobcats, the regular-season and tournament champions of the Blue Mountain Conference, have the third-ranked defense of the eight teams remaining in the state tourney, allowing a scant 30.3 points per game, and Union has not lost this season when holding teams to less than 45 points. Only one team has managed to reach 50 on the Bobcats, and that was Central Linn — the last team to beat Union and a possible semifinal opponent — 50-27 in early January.
Portland Christian is no defensive slouch either, as the Royals, who tied for the Northwest League title, are giving up just 32 points per game. They have won each game in which they limited teams to 40 points or fewer, which they have done 22 times.
The winner meets the winner of the quarterfinal matchup between Central Linn and Monroe Friday at 3:15 in the semifinals at the Pendleton Convention Center.
Joseph boys meet Triad Thursday in Baker
The Joseph boys basketball team survived a stout battle against South Wasco County Saturday in the second round of the state playoffs to secure the Eagles' return trip to the 1A state tournament at Baker High School.
An even tougher opponent lurks Thursday night when the Eagles square off with second-ranked Triad Thursday in the state quarterfinals.
The Timberwolves enter at 24-4 overall and bring with them the second-best defense of the eight teams to reach Baker, allowing only 38.2 points per game. Triad was the regular-season champion of the Mountain Valley League and went undefeated in league until a loss to Trinity Lutheran in the MVL title game. The only other losses to 1A schools for Triad, which at one point this season won 20 games in a row, are to Damascus Christian and Crosshill Christian, both also in the tournament in Baker. Triad routed Crane 71-43 to reach the quarterfinals.
The Eagles, who are the No. 2 seed from the Old Oregon League at 22-7, have won 12 games in a row against teams aside from defending state champion Nixyaawii, the OOL-North champion and league tournament champion. The Eagles, who have won 20 games for the first time since 2006, have held teams defensively to just 45 points a night.
The winner of the 8:15 p.m. contest meets either Prairie City or Crosshill Christian Friday evening in the state semifinals.