- Associated Press - Sunday, March 16, 2014

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) - The Oregon City Pioneers all wrote the same initials on their arms: TMDW.

It’s meaning? Teamwork makes the dream work.

“It’s true,” said Jessica Gertz, who had 17 points in Oregon City’s 57-48 victory over South Medford Saturday night for the OSAA Class 6A girls championship.

Down by as many as 10 points in the second half, the second-seeded Pioneers (22-6) went ahead early in the fourth quarter and pushed to their 12th overall state title, and first since 2009.

Keyari Sleezer had 20 points for top-seeded South Medford (26-4), which had won 15 straight and was appearing in its third straight state title game. The Panthers won the championship in 2012, but fell to Central Catholic in the final last year.

Washington State-bound Ashley Bolston, who has been battling the flu this week, added 11 points and eight rebounds for South Medford.

“It was all mental. They obviously wanted it more than us,” Bolston said.

Oregon City, whose coach Kurt Guelsdorf wore a throwback Pioneers sweater, took a 48-42 lead after Gertz’s 3-pointer and Toria Bradford’s layup with 3:57 left in the game.

Gertz nailed a 3-pointer that gave Oregon City a 53-44 lead with 2:47 left and the Pioneers cruised the rest of the way.

Cierra Walker added 13 points for the Pioneers, who defeated Westview and Tennessee-bound star Jaime Nared 70-52 in the semifinals. South Medford downed Beaverton 45-40 in the earlier semifinal.

“We gave our best tonight,” Walker said. “We played our hearts out.”

The Pioneers led 10-5 early in the game on Walker’s layup, but South Medford roared back, going ahead 11-10 on Julissa Tago’s 3-pointer and extending it on Sleezer’s 3.

Sleezer hit a 3-pointer before a layup to make it 24-14 for the Panthers in the second quarter. She led all scorers with 16 points and the Panthers led 33-26 at the break.

South Medford led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, but Oregon City came within 42-39 on Cierra Walker’s 3-pointer with 38 seconds left in the period.

Gertz’s jumper narrowed it to 42-41 early in the final quarter. Toria Bradford’s layup put the Pioneers ahead 43-42.

“I just felt like eventually we could fatigue them,” Guelsdorf said.

South Medford was playing without guard Andree Ritter, who was lost for the season in January with a torn ACL. Ritter was averaging 13 points a game.

Oregon City’s last state title came in 2009, which was also the year they played in their last championship game.

“Hopefully this starts a new tradition for us,” Gertz said.



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