The Pioneers execute at crunch time in a 62-56 victoryYoung,

by: JOHN LARIVIERE - Oregon City sophomore Trevon Bradford gets the jump on Canby 6-6 post Jordan Sanders and scores on a reverse lay-up in last Fridays 62-56 win over the Cougars.The Oregon City Pioneers used poised and disciplined play down the stretch to put a Three Rivers League boys basketball game in the win column Friday, defeating a physical team from Canby 62-56.

Sophomore guard Briggs Young played a pivotal role in the hard fought win, scoring a team-high 20 points and shutting down Canby star guard Jace Cates. Young frustrated Cates by guarding him closely and keeping Cates’ hands off the ball through most of the game. Cates finished with 11 points — six below his average — and he had to work for every point.

“Briggs locked him up,” said Oregon City junior wing Austin DeWitz. “Cates is a great player, one of the best in the state. But Briggs guarded him close and kept the ball out of his hands.”

After a close battle through most of the first half, Oregon City went up for good, at 19-17, when Austin DeWitz scored on an inbounds pass from Trevon Bradford midway through the second quarter.

Young added a pull-up jumper and Bradford hit two free throws to widen the gap to 23-18.

Young then closed out the half with a 3-pointer on the fast break and a steal and fast-break lay-up to make it 28-20 at the intermission.

Chris Mengis opened the second half with a steal, which led to a 3-point play by Bradford.

Bradford and Young followed with 3-pointers, and DeWitz scored from the baseline. And the Pioneers had the game in hand, leading 39-25 with 4:13 remaining in the third stanza.

Canby continued to battle, and a 3-point basket by Cates with 6:38 to play narrowed the gap to 49-44.

But the Pioneers executed a delay down the stretch and made 11-of-17 free throws in the fourth quarter to seal the deal.

Young, DeWitz, Mengis and Brad Martin all hit clutch free throws at crunch time.

Canby 6-6 senior Jordan Sanders gave the Cougars a glimmer of hope when he was fouled while rebounding and made two free throws, to make it a four-point game, at 60-56, with 11 seconds remaining.

But Young answered with two free throws, and it was all over but the shouting.

DeWitz (18 points) and Bradford (13 points) joined Young in double digits in scoring. Young, Bradford, DeWitz and Martin all hit 3-pointers for Oregon City.

Sanders led the Cougars, with 22 points. He struggled from the charity stripe, making only four of nine attempts.

The Cougars converted at a .375 clip (21-for-56) from the field for the game, while the Pioneers made 20-of-44 (.454) attempts.

DeWitz said: “We were more prepared for this game than we’ve been all season. We executed on defense; we took care of their big guy and kept him off the glass. We shared the ball, and we maintained our composure in the fourth quarter....

“We’ve choked away a lot of games in the fourth quarter this year, but we didn’t tonight.”

It was the third straight loss for the Cougars (7-7, 0-2), who dropped close games with Westview 51-48 on Jan. 14 and with 10th-ranked Lake Oswego 59-53 on Jan. 17.

Oregon City, which lost its league opener to Lakeridge (62-60) on Jan. 17, improved to 10-5 (1-1 in league) with last Friday’s win.

The Pioneers play Lake Oswego (9-6, 1-1) on the road this Friday and they battle cross-town rival West Linn (12-4, 2-0) on the road next Tuesday.

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