Oregon Big Men Battle In First Round

Behind a 10-0 spurt in the third quarter, Redmond (OR) HS got past Portland
(OR) Sunset, 49-42, in an Oregon State Tournament first round matchup featuring
two of the top big men on the West Coast.
When the brackets were finalized for the Oregon State Tournament, the first
round matchup between Sunset and Redmond stood out from the rest because of the
teams and players involved. Both teams were ranked in the state's Top Ten, as
well as two of the top players in the state in Sunset junior 6-10 post Sam
Rayburn and Redmond 6-9 forward Maarty Leunen (right).
The first half of the game was a stalemate, as both teams were not able to get
into a groove, especially Redmond - who showed rust from having had the prior
week and a half off. Sunset, who entered the game on a roll thanks to two
preliminary round victories, was able to work their inside/outside game of
Rayburn and point guard Josh Jackson to some degree, and led at the break,
Despite trailing at the half, Redmond head coach Kelly Bokn wasn't too
"We felt we were fortunate at the half," he said. "We had shot poorly, so to
be close, we felt pretty good in the second half that we would have a good
chance to pull away from them"
Sure enough, the offense would finally come for Redmond after halftime. The
period started with both teams jockeying back and forth for control, and a
Jackson drive at the 3:39 mark put the Apollos up by one, 28-27. This is where
Redmond started their game-breaking run. Senior guard Joe Billings scored
inside, and Leunen dropped in a three-pointer and converted on a fastbreak
after a Sunset turnover. A three-pointer by reserve Matt Hilgers at the horn
sealed off the Redmond run and gave the Panthers a 37-28 lead.
Sunset was never able to fully recover. While Jackson (five points) and
reserve swingman Sherrard Watson (seven points) tried their best to bring
Sunset back in the fourth, Redmond never led the lead slip under four points on
their way to the victory.
As far as the individual matchup between Rayburn and Leunen was concerned,
while the two big men guarded each other, the end result was unfortunately no
contest. With Leunen almost completely taking his game to the perimeter, he
either shot over the sagging Rayburn or drove by him to the basket. After a
slow start shooting at only 4-for-12 from the field in the first half, Leunen
shot 3-for-5 in the second period to finish with 22 points on 7-for-17
shooting, 2-for-6 from three point range. A drive past Rayburn capped off by a
dunk by Leunen at the 5:13 mark of the fourth period was indicative of the
advantage Leunen had in the matchup.
Rayburn (left), on the other hand, struggled to get touches all night long as Redmond
successfully fronted him and denied him opportunities, even when he stepped out
to try and get the ball out on the perimeter. In fact, Rayburn was held
scoreless in the second half while only getting off two shots. He finished the
game with only seven points and four rebounds.
"As a team, we were just fortunate to deny (Rayburn)," said Leunen.
There were no hard feelings between the two, who are teammates in the summer
with the Portland Legends AAU squad.
"We're good friends," said Leunen. "It was fun to play against him."
Josh Jackson led the way for Sunset with 16 points on 7-for-18 shooting from
the field. Leunen led Redmond with his 22 points, and also grabbed nine
rebounds. Helping him out for the Panthers were seniors Billings and Sam
Huston with 10 points each.
Redmond entered the tournament as the number one ranked team in the state, but
doesn't necessarily consider themselves the favorite.
"We're taking it one game at a time," said Bokn. "I'm sure we're going to have
our hands full tomorrow night. But we're excited to get that first hurdle
done, and we'll see what happens."
Redmond faces Tualatin (OR) in the second round on Friday evening.
Jed Tai is a Senior Writer with