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Marshfield Girls Vs. Marist Catholic

Marshfield's McKayla Myrand guards Marist Catholic's Sydney Johnson as she passes during a January game at Marshfield High School. The Pirates and Spartans have their third meeting of the season Thursday at the state tournament. 

COOS BAY — When Marshfield’s boys and girls basketball teams line up for the opening tip at the Class 4A state tournament on Thursday in Forest Grove, they will be looking at familiar foes. And they aren’t alone.

Three of the four boys quarterfinals Thursday are rematches of games during the regular season and most of the teams on both sides have played against several of the other teams that made the final site.

Marshfield’s boys beat Woodburn 58-45 in a game at Southwestern Oregon Community College back on Jan. 12.

And Marshfield’s girls topped Sky-Em rival Marist Catholic 56-39 in Coos Bay on Jan. 29 and 48-38 at Eugene on Feb. 12.

Marshfield’s coaches know to expect good challenges this week, regardless of the earlier scores.

“I like the matchup,” Marshfield boys coach Doug Miles said. “It’s going to be a really good game.”

He expects both teams to bring some new things to the table for the rematch, and said he’s not worried about the Pirates being overconfident since they won the first time.

“I don’t see that with these guys,” Miles said. “I think they know it’s going to be a good game.”

Grant Woolsey, one of the many seniors who play key roles for the Pirates — including all five starters — said the biggest keys will be playing solid defense against Woodburn star RJ Veliz and being patient on offense.

It will help, Woolsey said, that Marshfield was at the tournament last winter.

“I remember last year, the nerves were all around — the butterflies,” he said. “I think this year, we will be calmed down.”

Marshfield has played five of the seven other teams in the tournament, and gone 6-1 in those games, with two wins over Marist Catholic and nonleague wins against Woodburn, Seaside, North Marion and Henley. The Pirates also lost to Marist Catholic in their league game in Eugene, their only loss to a Class 4A team this season.

“Our schedule has helped us out a lot,” Woolsey said, adding that all the wins “remind us we have a pretty good chance.”

The Pirates likely will have to play better than they did in their playoff game against Gladstone, when they came from six points down in the fourth quarter to win. Miles expects the game to do that.

For whatever reason, Marshfield has repeatedly bounced back well from poor outings this year.

“We really have,” he said. “All of a sudden, we play a great game.

“We just have to play our game on defense and get into a rhythm on offense.”

All of the boys teams have experience against others in the field, with five of them playing at least seven such games and two more playing five. Many of the games between tourney teams have been close, including the other rematches this week.

Banks beat Marist Catholic, its quarterfinal foe, 57-52 back on Dec. 27, while Seaside edged North Marion, its opponent Thursday, 58-57 on Jan. 11.

Only Henley and Stayton have not yet met heading into Thursday’s games.

Banks is 6-2 against the rest of the field, with both losses coming to two-time defending champion Seaside. Stayton is 4-1, the loss to Banks and one of the wins against Seaside. The Seagulls are 4-3, with its other losses on the road at Marshfield and Banks.

Banks has the best overall record at 24-3, while Seaside is 22-3, Stayton is 20-3 (and on a 13-game win streak), Woodburn is 21-4 and Marshfield is 21-5 (with losses to Class 5A La Salle Prep and North Bend and a pair of top Alaskan teams). Henley (17-7), Marist Catholic (17-8) and North Marion (16-9) also are potent — Marshfield needed a put-back at the buzzer to beat North Marion back in early January.

“All four (quarterfinal) games could go either way, to the point that I wouldn’t want to bet on any of them,” Miles said.

The girls teams in Forest Grove haven’t played quite as many games against each other, though Newport, Stayton and Philomath are from the same league, so they have multiple games against each other.

Philomath and Banks, who meet Thursday, played back on Dec. 5, a one-point win by Banks.

Newport and North Marion have not met, nor have Stayton and Baker, the only team in the tournament that hasn’t played any of the others.

In addition to beating Marist Catholic, Marshfield also beat Newport and Philomath. The Pirates suffered their only loss of the season to North Marion.

Banks also has beaten three of the other teams — Philomath, Stayton and North Marion — though the Braves also lost a game to North Marion and lost a game to Newport.

Marshfield coach Bruce Bryant is wary of playing Marist Catholic a third time.

“I think it’s good — there’s a little less mystery when people are familiar with their opponent,” he said. “It’s difficult, too. You’ve got to present something new to them. You have to make some changes to what you normally would do.”

He’s not worried about his veteran group, which is trying to repeat as state champions, being overconfident in their third game with the Spartans.

“This group understands that when you get to the state tournament, there’s no league records,” he said. “It’s one-and-done. We don’t want to play for a trophy lower than first.

“We’ve got to play one game at a time. The only game that matters is that first game. It’s a series of one games. You don’t think about who you could play next.”

Plus, Bryant pointed out, Marist Catholic won the Class 5A state title last year, so the Spartans, too, are tournament tested.

Alex Locati, one of Marshfield’s five senior starters, said she isn’t fond of playing Marist Catholic again.

“They know what we can do and we know what they can do,” she said.

Marshfield’s experience will help, though — the seniors were part of teams that placed third two years ago and took the title last winter.

“We all know what to expect,” she said.

There is some pressure for the Pirates trying to repeat as champions, Locati said, but she added Marshfield needs to rely on its strengths, especially its defense.

“As long as we help each other and rotate and talk to each other, we’ll do good,” she said.

And if Marshfield beats Marist Catholic, then the Newport-North Marion winner, and ends up winning the championship Saturday night?

“It’s going to be the coolest thing in the world,” Locati said.

Marshfield’s boys play Woodburn at 3:15 p.m. Thursday and the girls face Marist Catholic at 8:15 p.m. that night.

Admission for each game, since they are in separate sessions, is $8 for adults and $5 for students.

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Sports Editor John Gunther can be reached at 541-269-1222, ext. 241, or by email at john.gunther@theworldlink.com. Follow him on Twitter: @jguntherworld.

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Sports Editor