Portland Christian junior Colby Getting (33) is averaging 14.5 points and 12.0 rebounds. (Photo courtesy Portland Christian)
Portland Christian junior Colby Getting (33) is averaging 14.5 points and 12.0 rebounds. (Photo courtesy Portland Christian)

It wasn't too long ago that Portland Christian was a perennial power in Oregon small-school boys basketball.

In an eight-season span that ended in 2010, the Royals averaged 22 wins, claiming 2A championships in 2008 and 2010.

They fell on hard times in the last decade, though, posting eight consecutive losing seasons, including a program-worst 2-23 record in 2021-22.

But things are turning around at the northeast Portland school. Portland Christian finished 15-11 a year ago, making the state playoffs for the first time in 13 years. And this season, with no seniors and starting three sophomores, the Royals are 17-0 and ranked co-No. 2 in the OSAAtoday 2A coaches poll.

“We expected this group to have some success, but I don't think we saw 17-0 coming,” second-year coach Erik Lyslo said. “It's just a group that's bought in, defensively for sure, and we have a lot of weapons. At the 2A level, you don't need a ton of guys to have success. We're 11 deep right now, which is fun.”

The Royals are 7-0 in the Northwest League, beating reigning league champion Mannahouse Christian Academy in both meetings, 35-31 at home Jan. 5 at home and 49-36 on the road Thursday. They are outscoring teams by an average of 73-33.

But considering No. 4 Mannahouse is the only 2A ranked team they have beaten, they know they have much to prove.

“Our preseason was light. We know it,” Lyslo said. “I think people will say, 'They're inexperienced, they haven't played anybody,' but we know what our spring, summer and fall looked like. All we played was 5A and 6A teams. We've been tested. This is a 6A team playing 2A basketball.”

Lyslo went 65-75 in six seasons at 6A Gresham (2016-22) before returning for his second stint as coach at Portland Christian, where he compiled a 28-45 record from 2012-15. He inherited one of the youngest rosters in the state.

The Royals not only brought back every starter from that team – sophomore guards Ethan Larner, Graham Calhoun and Cole Larson, junior guard Sam Fundak and junior post Jack Mazurowski – but added three key contributors.

Colby Getting, a 6-foot-9 junior center, transferred from Columbia Christian and has given the team a dominant interior presence, averaging 14.5 points, 12.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.5 blocks.

Sophomore guard Josiah Harris-Skidmore transferred from Gresham and is putting up 12.3 points, 5. 2 rebounds and 3.4 steals, shooting 35 percent on three-pointers. Freshman guard Keylon Kittleson also is making an impact with his defense and perimeter shooting, hitting 35 percent from behind the arc.

Getting and Harris-Skidmore have cracked the starting lineup, joining Larner, Calhoun and and Mazurowski. Kittleson has been starting of late for Larner, who broke his foot Jan. 23 against Nestucca and is expected to miss at least a month. Larner, a point guard, is averaging 8.8 points, 4.5 assists and 3.0 steals.

Getting joined the team after the summer, adding a new dimension, especially on defense. With Getting anchoring the middle, the Royals have cranked up the on-ball pressure. They are racking up steals, led by Calhoun (4.5) and Mazurowski (4.4).

“Anytime you can funnel guys to a 6-9 center, you can super aggressive on the perimeter,” Lyslo said. “We're just a really aggressive man-to-man team. You see zone a lot at this level, so I think a lot of teams aren't ready for that man-to-man type pressure. It's the same thing we did at Gresham, and it helped turn that program around.

“I never had any size at Gresham. I had to go to the 2A level to find it.”

The Royals knew they had a special mix in the offseason when they beat about 60 percent of the 5A and 6A teams they played, according to Lyslo. As the season progresses, their confidence is growing.

“This is a team that's built to play at a high level,” Lyslo said. “Nothing is really fazing them right now They've seen it. They're tested. Hopefully that pays off in the postseason.”

Portland Christian still has a connection to its past success. Throughout the season, Lyslo has occasionally drawn on the wisdom of longtime Royals coach Rich Remsburg, who went 537-304 in 35 seasons (1968-2003), winning the 1992 state title.

“I'll bring him into practice, pick his brain,” Lyslo said. “He's a legend at PC. There's a long history of success, and we're trying to get that back now. The gym is packed every night, and that's great to see.”

Metro heats up

A pair of upsets added fuel to the fire in the hotly contested 6A Metro League last week.

No. 8 Mountainside (10-6, 4-1) won at No. 2 Southridge 68-55 on Wednesday, handing the Skyhawks (15-2, 3-1) their first loss to an Oregon team this season.

Unranked Westview (11-6, 4-1) went on the road for a 46-42 win over No. 6 Jesuit (11-5, 3-1) on Friday, the Wildcats' second win on the Crusaders' floor in their program's 30-year history.

“I feel like it's the deepest league in the state right now with six teams capable of deep playoff runs,” Westview coach Mike Wolf said of the Metro, which also includes No. 7 Beaverton (10-7, 2-3). “Defense has been a huge factor so far, and the teams who can get stops, create turnovers and control the glass have been able to pull out wins.”

Westview held Jesuit to 41-percent shooting and forced 17 turnovers. Wildcats junior guard Kai Russell had 13 points, five assists and five steals, junior guard Lucas D'Haem had 12 points, three assists and four steals and senior wing Ani Andhole added six points, 11 rebounds and two steals in the win.

Mountainside cooled off usually hot-shooting Southridge, holding the Skyhawks to 3 for 25 from three-point range. Junior point guard Brayden Boe had 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and junior guard Peyton Reyes added 17 points, hitting five three-pointers. The Mavericks also got a boost from senior wing Quinn Haveman, who played in his second game after missing more than a year with an injury.

North Marion turns back Cascade

No. 6 North Marion stopped No. 2 Cascade 75-64 in a pivotal 4A Oregon West Conference game Friday, rebounding from an 81-58 loss to No. 4 Philomath on Tuesday.

Senior guard Dawson Schrenk made six three-pointers and scored 20 points for North Marion (12-5, 2-1) in the home win over Cascade (11-3, 2-1). The Huskies made five three-pointers in the third quarter – getting two each from Schrenk and junior guard Reece Hartenstein – to turn a 33-30 halftime deficit into a 56-46 lead.

“Once we get hot, we’re hard to stop,” Hartenstein said. “We knew we had to bounce back (from Tuesday) and play better. Right now it's a mental thing. We weren’t mentally tough enough against Philomath, so we knew Cascade was going to come … and we knew we had to be better than that.”

Junior guard Landon Knox scored 28 points for Cascade, which plays at first-place Philomath (13-3, 3-0) on Thursday.

“It was a reminder game in a way, a wake-up call,” Knox said. “We’ve been going through this season going through the motions, and hopefully this will light a fire underneath us going out the rest of the season.”

-- Jeremy McDonald contributed to this report

Notes: No. 2 Trinity Lutheran (14-4, 7-0) took over first place in the 1A Mountain Valley League on Thursday with a 66-44 home win over No. 7 Lost River (15-3, 6-1). Junior Andrew Imhoff had 21 points, nine rebounds and seven assists, freshman Chimi Gilbert had 17 points, six rebounds and four steals and junior Jack Foley added 15 points, eight rebounds and five assists for Trinity Lutheran. … West Salem extended its winning streak to 12 on Friday by holding off South Salem 68-66 in a 6A Central Valley Conference game. Senior Connor Oertel scored 22 points to lead the Titans (15-2, 6-0), who got 17 points from senior Jackson Leach and 14 points from sophomore Demari Hall. West Salem is 6-0 in games decided by three points or fewer. … Senior Preston Tompkins has been on a tear for 1A No. 4 Open Door Christian Academy (11-3, 5-0) which leads The Valley 10 League. In his last four games, the 6-1 Tompkins is averaging 28.3 points, 5.0 assists and 8.0 steals. Tompkins, who had a 41-point, nine-steal game against Columbia Christian, is averaging 22.2 points, 4.4 assists and 5.0 steals for the season.