PORTLAND - Fresh off Saturday's 56-52 state-qualifying, sub-tournament victory over Ashland, the Pendleton girls basketball team had little time to celebrate.

Yes, the Buckaroos (22-4) are in the midst of posting their third consecutive 20-plus-win season, second straight Intermountain Conference championship and sixth state tournament appearance in a row.

But, at the same time, Pendleton coach Todd Zimmermann was taking a look ahead at the Elite Eight bracket. Pendleton's first draw: perennial state powerhouse Oregon City.

Which meant Sunday was high time to start preparing for the second-ranked Pioneers, who are 21-5 and making their 20th straight state tourney appearance.

"They just bring wave after wave at you," Zimmermann said referring to Oregon City's depth. "The thing that makes them the most dangerous is you don't know which player is going to get hot on which night.

"And once one of them gets going, they just stick with that player."

The Pioneers, the Three Rivers League champions, are led by Jen Oyler's 13.1 points a night.

"She's advertised as a 6-foot-1 shooting guard from Pennsylvania, who can flat out shoot it, and she can," Zimmermann said. "She's as advertised."

But Oyler is far from being the only offensive threat as Oregon City has a bounty of players ready to step up.

Kristen Zimel is averaging 11.8 points a game, Whitney chase scores 8.3 points an outing and Callie Goff is good for another seven points per game.

"We're going to try to play great position, hands-free defense and try to keep them off the line," Zimmermann said. "We've also talked all year long how it's tough for other teams to beat you if they only get one shot at the offensive end."

Despite what many see as an imposing aura - Oregon City has won 10 of the last 13 state titles - Zimmermann says the Bucks are playing a single team and not a tradition.

"We're going in with the attitude of 'why not us?' " Zimmermann said. "We're not playing the Oregon City team that's dominated state for the last decade.

"We're playing the 2004-05 Oregon City team. We can't be concerned with their legacy. We just have to line up and get after those players one-on-one."

And Pendleton has plenty of its own offense in Mackenzie Larson, Marissa Hammond and Ashley Emerick.

Larson, the IMC Player of the Year, is averaging 20 points per game, and Hammond, a 6-3 post, is scoring 14.6 points.

Emerick, a slashing point guard who can also spot up and consistently hit the 3-pointer, scores 8.6 points per game. The 5-9 senior can have breakout games, though, as evidenced in the game-high 18 points she scored against North Eugene during the second round of the state sub-tournament.

The Bucks also will start a pair of defensive specialists in Carly Edwards (7.5 rebounds per game) and Talia Vogler.

Mindy Walchli and Whitney Adams should be two of the first players off the Pendleton bench.

"We watched film on Oregon City (Tuesday), and they're fast," Larson said. "But we're ready to run with them; we're definitely ready to go."

Oregon City coach Brad Smith was unavailable for comment.

Notes: Thursday's game begins at 1:30 p.m. in the University of Portland's Chiles Center. ... The Pioneers beat Crescent City 67-43 on Saturday to qualify to the tournament. ... At last year's tournament, Pendleton lost to Lakeridge and Lake Oswego. Lakeridge finished second and Lake Oswego took fourth. ... Hammond was fourth in field goal percentage during last year's tourney at .636.


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