Fencor heads to Oregon
The End of the Oregon Trail tournament is this week, featuring some of the nation's top girls stars
Thursday, July 06, 2006
JERRY ULMERThe Oregonian
As the coach of Fencor -- the three-time AAU girls basketball national champion out of Philadelphia -- Stuart London has seen more than his share of tournaments.
Up until last year, though, he hadn't been to the End of the Oregon Trail tournament in Oregon City. And after one visit, he is sold.
"We loved it," London said. "It was great competition, different competition. We're from Philadelphia and we were playing Team Alberta. It was a cultural experience, to say the least.
"That's why we're coming back. We liked it, so we're back. And hopefully we'll come back next year, too."
Fencor is among 192 teams descending on Oregon City for the All-Star Division of the 27th End of the Oregon Trail tournament. The All-Star Division, which starts today and ends Sunday, is the grand finale of four weeks of tournaments at Oregon City.
The multi-site event attracts much of the best talent in the nation, and along with it, more than 400 college recruiters. Tennessee coach Pat Summitt and Connecticut coach Geno Auriemma were among those in attendance last year.
The top club teams -- many of whom use the tournament as a tuneup for the AAU national championships next week in Florida -- are in the 128-team National bracket. The 64-team American bracket has mostly West Coast and younger teams, including high school teams from Oregon powers Oregon City and Southridge.
The championship games are Sunday at Oregon City High School -- the American final at 2 p.m. and the National final at 3:15. Brackets are listed on the tournament Web site, www.ocbasketball.com/colleginfo.htm.
The Fairfax (Va.) Stars, which lost to Boo Williams in the final of the Boo Williams Spring Invitational, are seeded second. Cal Swish Black, Fencor and West Coast Elite Black are the next three seeds.
"Any of those top five can win it," tournament organizer Carl Tinsley said. "Boo is the favorite."
Connecticut and Duke are among the colleges courting the Fairfax Stars' Jasmine Thomas, a 5-9 senior guard from Vienna, Va., and Fencor's Caroline Doty, a 5-10 junior guard from Fort Washington, Pa.
Two of the nation's best players won't play for their teams at the tournament, however.
Fencor's Elena Delle Donne, a 6-4 junior guard from Wilmington, Del., who is widely regarded as the country's best high school player, sprained an ankle at the USA Basketball national team tryouts and isn't making the trip.
"There's going to be a thousand people asking me, 'Where's Elena?' " London said.
Angie Bjorklund, a 6-0 guard from Spokane's University High, will not play for Spokane Stars Elite Blue because of a stress fracture in her leg. She has committed to Tennessee.
Jerry Ulmer; firstname.lastname@example.org