Johnson and Davis each finish with 13 for the Indians

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Senior guard Mitch Davis fights to break through the La Salle defense during the second half of the Indians' loss at home. Davis tied Chase Johnson for team high scoring honors with 13. Most coaches will tell you there is no such thing as a moral victory, but the smile on Tribe head coach Rahim Tufts' face after Friday evening's 58-45 loss to La Salle spoke otherwise.

“I feel really good about it,” he said. “It's always tough losing, but I feel good about how we played and how we competed.”

The Indians (2-3) weren't the victors. In fact, they held only a few brief leads in the first quarter before falling down by eleven at halftime and having their late-game rally fall short, but No. 6 La Salle (5-1) didn't leave the gym without a fight. Down big with only a few minutes remaining, Scappoose went on a wild run, cutting the lead to seven points before giving up a few quick buckets and conceding game.

While the only stat that matters is the W, the progress the team has made in the last few weeks is already apparent. Frustrated in their loss at St. Helens on Dec. 12, the Indians weren't able to handle defensive pressure, throwing errant passes and succumbing to the Lions' aggressive defense.

Against La Salle, though they were heavily outmatched in the post, Scappoose was far more in control – part of a new mantra the team has taken to during practice.

“We've been using the term 'cool, calm and collected' on offense, and I thought we did that tonight, we've just got to finish,” said Tufts. “We got great looks at the rim, we got open jumpers, we just didn't shoot very well.”

Better shooting percentage might have made up the difference on the scoreboard, but Tufts says the team has already put in the work and the dividends are beginning to show. The offense has been working on breaking a full court press, often times battling seven or eight defensive players for added pressure. Now, when a team decides to play in the Indians' faces, they'll welcome the double team and look for the open man.

After nearly a week off, the journey will continue for Scappoose with their annual tournament in Sisters. The close proximity of the games should give the coaching staff some time to experiment with different lineups, and will allow the team a chance to bond, regardless of where each player might lie on the depth chart.

“Everybody knows that we're getting better as a collective unit,” said Tufts. “If you're on the bench, you're supporting your teammates. We'll see how it goes.”

The trip to Sisters has routinely been a milestone for the team, both in cohesiveness and in their play on the court. Things won't get any easier, though, as the tournament bracket is littered with some tough opponents, including La Salle. For the Indians, it's a welcome challenge.

“Good competition forces you to grow up,” said Tufts. “Fast.”


La Salle 58

Scappoose 45

LSF 17 12 14 15 – 58

SCP 12 6 16 11 – 45

Scappoose 45: Johnson 13, Davis 13, McNabb 6, Wendelschafer 6, Loss 3, Ford 2, Backus 2

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