6A boys hoops — Junior scores 15 points, hauls in 15 rebounds to help the Tigers secure their second league win

Braden Milroy had already given Newberg High School a spark with his energetic play off the bench before the Tigers’ home game versus Century Feb. 4, but apparently he was just warming up.

The junior wing was more motor than ignition this time around, powering one of Newberg’s most consistent performances of the season with 15 points and 15 rebounds in a 57-46 victory over the Jaguars.

“To get 15 points and 15 rebounds in a high school game is pretty tough,” said NHS coach Dave Brown. “He probably played 30 or 31 minutes in that game.”

Milroy’s performance epitomized what Brown and the coaching staff have been pushing the Tigers to do this season: play with energy and intensity from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Brown said he likes to say it’s the difference between just playing and competing, noting that the team has made great strides in that department the past few weeks, a stretch that has now included the Tigers’ first two league wins.

“I think for us, that was a transition a lot of our kids had to make and I really liked that,” Brown said. “We’ve gone from playing to competing. I guess you have to know sports to understand the difference, but we’re playing better defense, we’re rebounding better and that means we can get out and run more.”

Brown also praised point guard B.J. Ulloa, who ran the offense well and played extra minutes in the first half after fellow guard James Willcuts left the game for a long stretch due to a bloody nose. After Willcuts returned for good, he put forth a strong performance, too, finishing with nine points, four assists, three rebounds and two steals.

The game was close for the majority of the time, with Newberg taking a 23-20 lead at halftime before pushing its advantage to five points entering the fourth quarter.

According to Brown, that’s when the team’s defensive effort began to really pay off, especially against one of Century’s top players, senior guard Jamel Liggins.

As they did against Forest Grove standout Michael Garcia, Ulloa and Willcuts went after Liggins aggressively at both ends of the court in an effort to deny him the ball and sap his energy. That strategy paid off, with Brown pointing to a stretch in the fourth quarter in which the play of the offense greatly benefitted the defense.

“We had about five possessions where the kids really worked the ball and it was ideal because you want the other team to have to play an extended amount of time on defense,” Brown said. “That affected their shots and that’s when we pulled away.”

The performance also represented an important step for the Tigers, who won despite the fact that top scorers center Jacoby Wolfe and wing Jake Sundquist were not in top form. Sundquist did finish with 10 points and seven rebounds; Wolfe was in foul trouble for much of the game. Fortunately, Matt Springer filled in, hitting a key hook shot down the stretch, and forward Jacob Pendergraph played well off the bench too.

The Tigers, who played at Tualatin Tuesday (results unavailable at press time), will travel to Hillsboro Wednesday to make up a game originally scheduled for Friday. Newberg (5-12, 2-6) will then host league-leading Tigard Friday.

“I would love to beat Hillsboro. I would love to scare the heck out of Tigard,” Brown said. “That would be a great week for us.”

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