Benson girls basketball team wins state championship3/11/2019
The Benson High school girls basketball team won the first state championship in program history, doing so with a dominant win over the two-time defending champion. The Techsters defeated Southridge 66-42 in the final Saturday night at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center.
The win came a year after Benson made the state final for the first time but lost to Southridge 46-27. Under coach Eric Knox, the Techsters closed the gap on the Skyhawks, who are led by 6-foot-5 All-State player Cameron Brink, a junior widely considered one of the greatest players in state history. In December, Benson and Southridge played at the PIL Holiday Classic, where Southridge prevailed 55-50.
It was a very different story Saturday, when Benson got out to an early lead and never trailed. Senior Ciera Ellington, the Portland Interscholastic League Player of the Year, led Benson with a strong all-around game, getting 20 points, eight assists, six rebounds, three steals and a block.
“This means a lot not just to Benson, not just to the PIL, but for young girls that look like us, black and brown girls in Portland, this is for them,” said Ellington, who was voted a unanimous first-team all-tournament selection. “If they want to achieve anything, they can do it. This is for them.”
Senior Tayler Lyday added 15 points and eight rebounds, and junior Aujae Yoakum had 13 points and eight rebounds; both were selected to the all-tournament second team. Benson finished the season with a 26-4 record, with its only loss to an in-state team in the December game against Southridge.
The championship was the first for the Benson girls team, a school that has won five championships in boys basketball. It was the sixth state title by a PIL team in girls basketball, a sport that has had a state championship since 1976, and the first by a PIL team since Jefferson won the Class 5A championship in 2010 during a stretch when half the PIL played at the lower classification. The last PIL champion at the biggest classification was by Marshall in 1982.
Boys basketball: Also at the Chiles Center, Jefferson reached the boys final for the second year in row and lost to Jesuit 71-66 to finish runner-up. The Democrats beat PIL rival Grant 87-68 Wednesday in their tournament opener, a rematch of last year’s championship game won by Grant.
Grant bounced back to win its final two games of the tournament and earn the fourth-place trophy, beating Central Catholic 83-78 in the trophy game Saturday.
Jefferson senior Marcus Tsohonis and sophomore Nate Rawlins-Kibonge were voted to the all-tourament first team, and Grant seniors Aaron Deloney and Ty Rankin were selected to the second team.