By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Pirates, Hawks play in semifinals today

The Dayton Pirates are working on doing both.

The Pirates (19-6, 13-1) have a tough task ahead. Dayton defeated Portland Adventist 58-55 Thursday to advance to the state semifinals for the fourth consecutive season. The Pirates play at 3:15 p.m. today at Marshfield High School vs. Horizon Christian.

Dayton coach Ron Hop said the Pirates were facing a well-coached team for the second consecutive week.

“I’ve seen them play,” Hop said, “and they execute very well.”

That’s where the extra mile comes in. Hop said he decided to take a drive Saturday up to Portland to watch the Cougars take on Salem Academy. Hop also said since the two teams have played one another in four of the last five seasons, he’s noticed Portland Adventist Academy has gotten better every year.

“I went up and watched the game on Saturday,” Hop said. “They execute very well. We’ve seen them a few times, and they certainly look to be headed in the right direction.”

The Cougars finished second in the Lewis & Clark League but led the league with 1,580 points scored. Portland Adventist Academy runs a fast, up-tempo offense, one similar to the Pirates.

Hop said it’s a style that any team, no matter how good it is, has to be prepared for.

“If you’re not prepared for it, then you’re going to turn it over,” Hop said. “We just have to limit those turnovers and hopefully we can press them back and play at a high level.”

Hop said like an up-tempo offense, it’s more prone to mistakes and turnovers than a half-court offense would be.

“It’s not what they do, it’s how they do it,” Hop said. “At the same time they can make one bad decision that can change the game. On the defensive end — there’s not many teams in this league that press. It’s not good for a tournament because you’ll run out gas.”

Hop said he knows Portland Adventist Academy’s plan is to run the Pirates to the point of exhaustion but said Dayton is prepared for that if it happens.

“We have guys on this year’s team that played them last year,” Hop said. “So they know what to expect.”

Despite Dayton having knowledge of the Cougars game plan, the consensus around the locker room is practice and attitude have to be more focused than they were in the win over Riverside.

In Dayton’s 68-46 win over the Pirates in the first round, Dayton committed 21 turnovers. It committed 12 in the first half and led 16-15 after the first quarter and 30-29 at halftime.

Seniors Justin Sutton and Jered White both attributed the sloppy execution to a lack of focus in practice that week. Both said the preparation for Portland Adventist Academy is of high importance.

“We had a bad week of practice,” Sutton said. “We all knew we needed to focus on the game, and we didn’t have it in that first half. If we’re going to go to Coos Bay and win, we have to prepare better.”

White added there was a lack of focus in practice because the Pirates focused too much on Riverside’s ranking as the lowest seed instead of their potential skill.

“Over the week, we didn’t focus enough in practice,” White said. “I think that because they were the bottom seed, we weren’t giving them as much credit as we should have. We should’ve focused more.”

Since the 2008-09 season, Dayton has made it past the quarterfinal round. Now the Pirates face West Valley League rival Horizon Christian it will be the first time since the 2009 state tournament that the Pirates and Hawks will have played before the 3A state championship game. The Hawks are 2-1 vs. Dayton this season. They split during the regular season to share the WVL league championship, but the Hawks beat Dayton in the league playoffs.

Dayton and Horizon Christian have played in each of the last three 3A state championship games. The Pirates finally defeated the Hawks last season after losing in 2010 and 2011.

The other semifinal game wasn’t set at press time. Blanchet Catholic was scheduled to play at 6:30 p.m. vs. De La Salle. Valley Catholic vs. Cascade Christian played at 8:15 p.m. Thursday.

“We have to apply pressure, limit their shots and win the turnover battle,” Hop said. “If we can do that, along with making shots, I have no doubt that we can win this game.”

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