ATHENA - A season removed from a 1-2 effort at state last year, and one more season removed from a one-and-done foray, Weston-McEwen is again prepping for its entre into the Oregon Class 2A boys state tournament. And, despite having one of the leading scorers in the state, Dallas Reich, and two other scorers averaging in double figures, the TigerScots are focusing on defense heading into their match with Oakland Saturday afternoon.
"As a team, that's what we've been relying on - our defense," W-M coach Bryan Pickard said. Not only with the two big guys (Ron Terjeson and Riley Sederberg), but Dallas Reich and Elliot Salter playing defense agains their guards.
"We just have to play defense like we've been playing defense - as a team - and we'll cause them some problems."
Senior post Terjeson will be key to that defense. Standing at 6-foot-5, Terjeson dwarves Oakland's senior posts (6-2 Travis Sherman and 6-2 Justin Trullinger) and, given his sparkling 5.3 blockes-per-game to go along with 12.7 points and 9.3 rebounds, he knows how to use his height.
"I think Oakland's biggest kid is 6-2," Pickard said. "Although he's a very strong kid, I think we have an advantage there. In our district championship Riley (Sederberg) had 12 points and 12 rebounds, Ron (Terjeson) had 12 points and 18 rebounds. If we're going to be successful, we're going to need that again."
Although not as vertically gifted, senior post Riley Sederburg is also averaging close to a double-double heading into the tournament with 9.3 ppg and 7.9 rpg.
And then there is the elephant in the room - the prolific Dallas Reich.
The senior wing is averaging 22.7 points per game and, although he takes more than 33 percent of the team's shots, he has been incredibly efficient, hitting 48 percent of his shots (54 percent from 2 and 36 percent from 3) and averaging 1.25 points per possession used.
But despite those eye-popping stats, Pickard said he is not worried about relying on production from Reich.
"It's the attention he draws from the other teams (that makes him dangerous)," Pickard said of Reich. "So that opens things up on the inside for Ron and Riley. He just attracts so much attention that he draws help coverage and Dallas is very good at seeing that and finding open guys when he gets double-teamed.
Reich averages 3.4 assists per game.
Senior point guard Elliot Salter rounds out a TigerScot senior class that has been to state going on three straight seasons.
"I think experience could be a huge key, down the stretch especially," Pickard said. "Playing against some of these younger teams that dont have that experience, that could be huge, definitely."
Add in the fact that the Oakers will be likely facing two days of travel to get to Weston-McEwen, which earned a home opener after going on an 11-game winning streak and besting Stanfield 52-49 in the Blue Mountain Conference championship, and the TigerScots have a puncher's chance of moving onward to the semis of the state tournament.
Should W-M advance, the TigerScots would face the winner of Gaston and Days Creek a stone's throw away in the Pendleton Convention Center.
Tip off is set for 4 p.m.