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Tigers ready for league play after going 3-0 at Century/Hillsboro tournament

SETH GORDON - Junior forward Alex Jaczko fends off a defender in the paint during Newberg's 51-47 victory over Aloha Dec. 27 at the Century/Hillsboro tournament. Jaczko scored 14 points in the win for NHS, which has won three straight games.  
HILLSBORO — It's only been a month, but the Newberg boys basketball team already looks like a much different squad than it did when the season began.

That certainly was evident last week at the Century/Hillsboro Tournament, where the Tigers demonstrated their growth in a new way each night en route to three consecutive wins to close out their non-league schedule.

"We know it's only going to get tougher from here on out," head coach Mark Brown said. "We have the TRL gauntlet, but I think we are going to surprise some teams. We are definitely playing better than we were a month ago. We're making progress. We're making positive strides. We're playing more consistent."

After several days off with only one practice, Brown was expecting the team's opening contest versus Aloha Dec. 27 to be a bit of a sloppy affair, but the Tigers found a way to gut out a 51-47 win Dec. 27 at Century High School.

The Tigers struggled to shoot the ball from the outside for most of the night, but got the offense going with good ball movement and took a 23-21 lead into halftime.

SETH GORDON - Newberg sophomore guard Jack Chlumak drives to the rim during the Tigers' 51-47 win over Aloha last week. Chlumak tied for the team lead with 14 points. Newberg has won three games in a row.
Sophomore guard Jack Chlumak and junior post Kyle Kruse came off the bench to give the offense a boost in the second quarter, combining to score nine of the team's 15 points in the period.

"He's hungry and he's excited to be playing at the varsity level," Brown said of Kruse. "He's doing the right things. He's working hard in practice and it's paying off for him. I think the biggest thing is he has that nice mid-range jumper and within our offense that high-post look is going to be there a lot."

Newberg controlled the play in the second half and led by as many as seven points early in the fourth quarter, but back-to-back 3-pointers but erased that gap with 6:02 to play.

The Warriors (3-7) took their only lead of the half, 47-45, with 2:24 to play, but senior post Jordan Rice tied the game on the next possession.

Ben O'Loughlin, who otherwise had a pretty quiet night, later drained a jumper from the elbow to make it 49-47 with 1:11 to play after Alex Jaczko passed up his own shot to give the senior wing a wide-open look.

"It was a good look by Alex," O'Loughlin said. "I'm comfortable with that shot. Tie ball game, those are the shots I want. I just took it in stride."

The Tigers got a stop about 10 seconds later, but turned the ball back over to Aloha with just over 30 seconds left to play.

Senior guard Grant Myers came up with a huge steal and Chlumak, who scored 14 points to share the team lead in scoring with Jazcko, drained a pair of free throws with 7.3 seconds left to ice the game.

"For him to step up, as a sophomore, and knock down two big free throws that take it from a one-possession to a two-possession game, that was big not only for him but for the team," Brown said. "To have a guy step up and do that, that's the kind of poise we want to see late in the game."

Newberg struggled to shoot the ball again Dec. 28, but faced a very different challenge against Sunset, which runs a full-court press from start to finish.

That pressure had been effective in throwing the Tigers off kilter in a pre-season jamboree matchup versus the Apollos, but Brown's team was better prepared this time around, posting a season-low eight turnovers in a comfortable 51-41 victory at Hillsboro High School.

Jaczko led the team with 13 points, but nine different players scored in the contest, with Rice adding nine an Clumak eight.

Newberg led by 16 with a minute to go and could have closed out the game a bit better, but missed several free throws and allowed a pair of late 3-pointers.

That didn't take much of the luster off the win for Brown, who was especially proud that his team was able to force Sunset to abandon it's signature full-court press after three quarters.

"As a team who presses, if they have to fall back into a half-court man, that's a victory because you dictated the tempo and you dictated how they are going to have to play," Brown said. "That was a big confidence builder for the boys to realize they were the ones in control and they forced the other team to change their style of play. That was exciting."

It all came together on Friday, as the Tigers finally shot the ball well in a 55-41 victory over host Hillsboro on its home floor.

Newberg once again forced its opponent out of it's preferred defense by game's end, in this case the Spartans 2-3 half-court trap and 1-3-1 zone looks.

"That was a good way to end the week," Brown said. "From start to finish in the Hillsboro game, we were in total control. I think we led the entire game."

The Tigers led by as many as 20 points, getting 10 points apiece from O'Loughlin and Kruse and seven from Chlumak, who had a strong performance for the third consecutive game.

"He's starting to be a lot more confident with the basketball and then he really right now is one of our stronger defenders and better rebounders," Brown said of Chlumak. "He has really given us a big spark, a big energy guy for us coming off the bench."

Through 10 games, Newberg (6-4) is allowing just 48.1 points per game, which is one of the best marks in all of 6A and the team's progress so far has Brown believing the Tigers are ready to transition to the higher level of competition that now awaits them in the Three Rivers League. That run begins this week with tilts at No. 3 Lake Oswego (6-2) Wednesday night and at No. 5 Tualatin (8-1) Friday.

"If we can be a tough defensive team and continue to get more confident and get better offensively, I think we're going to have a good little run here in our last year here in the TRL," Brown said. "We know it will be tough. We're not going to win every night, but I really think we're going to give ourselves a chance to win every night."

That pressure had been effective in throwing the Tigers off kilter in a pre-season jamboree matchup versus the Apollos, but Brown's team was better prepared this time around, posting a season-low eight turnovers in a comfortable 51-41 victory at Hillsboro High School.

Jaczko led the team with 13 points, but nine different players scored in the contest, with Rice adding nine an Clumak eight.

Newberg led by 16 with a minute to go and could have closed out the game a bit better, but missed several free throws and allowed a pair of late 3-pointers.

That didn't take much of the luster off the win for Brown, who was especially proud that his team was able to force Sunset to abandon it's signature full-court press after three quarters.

"As a team who presses, if they have to fall back into a half-court man, that's a victory because you dictated the tempo and you dictated how they are going to have to play," Brown said. "That was a big confidence builder for the boys to realize they were the ones in control and they forced the other team to change their style of play. That was exciting."

It all came together on Friday, as the Tigers finally shot the ball well in a 55-41 victory over host Hillsboro on its home floor.

Newberg once again forced its opponent out of it's preferred defense by game's end, in this case the Spartans 2-3 half-court trap and 1-3-1 zone looks.

"That was a good way to end the week," Brown said. "From start to finish in the Hillsboro game, we were in total control. I think we led the entire game."

The Tigers led by as many as 20 points, getting 10 points apiece from O'Loughlin and Kruse and seven from Chlumak, who had a strong performance for the third consecutive game.

"He's starting to be a lot more confident with the basketball and then he really right now is one of our stronger defenders and better rebounders," Brown said of Chlumak. "He has really given us a big spark, a big energy guy for us coming off the bench."

Through 10 games, Newberg (6-4) is allowing just 48.1 points per game, which is one of the best marks in all of 6A and the team's progress so far has Brown believing the Tigers are ready to transition to the higher level of competition that now awaits them in the Three Rivers League. That run begins this week with tilts at No. 3 Lake Oswego (6-2) Wednesday night and at No. 5 Tualatin (8-1) Friday.

"If we can be a tough defensive team and continue to get more confident and get better offensively, I think we're going to have a good little run here in our last year here in the TRL," Brown said. "We know it will be tough. We're not going to win every night, but I really think we're going to give ourselves a chance to win every night."

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