Scappoose gets 20 points from junior Chase Johnson, but more importantly, they've found their confidence

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - The Indians' starting five mingle before the tip of Tuesday night's playoff game against Seaside. Scappoose has had to endure some tough times down the stretch, but head coach Rahim Tufts says the team might be playing their best basketball at the right time.The Indian boys' basketball team is finally on a winning streak. It's their first in nearly a month, and at just the right time, beating Seaside 49-38 in a league playoff game at Banks High School on Tuesday evening.

The victory ensures that Scappoose will taste the post season, setting up a play-in game for which the Indians will travel, but it's more than a simple victory: it's proof.

Until the last week of the season rolled around, Scappoose had been on a serious skid, losers of four games in a row and struggling to find the confidence and bravado they'd shown earlier in the season. Last Friday, they snapped the streak by beating Astoria in thrilling fashion, and by beating Seaside in the Cowapa League playoff game on Tuesday evening, advance to the play-in round of the OSAA playoffs. It's safe to say that confidence is back on their side.

Before the game began, coach Rahim Tufts gathered his players around the free throw line, arm in arm and bent with purpose. He reminded them of the words on the back of their warm up shirts: one team, and that win or loss, it was something they'd do as a cohesive group.

“We talked about how we're a family, so we're doing this together,” he said after the win. “The rotation's going to shorten up a little bit. We changed the starting lineup. I said 'we're a family, let's do it together. No ego. This is our time for everything to click.' and it did.”

It was a far cry from the struggles the team endured over a three week span when they lost control of the race for a home playoff game. During that time, shots – including layups – weren't falling, and it was to the detriment of the team's confidence. Now that they've had some success to knock the rust off, it looks like the old group is back on track, but even better than before.

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Junior Chase Johnson was perfect from the charity stripe, hitting all eight of his attempts, and adding 20 points to the victory.“I truly think it was [our best performance of the season],” said Tufts. “Our help-side rotations were phenomenal, and we kept the ball in front of us for the most part. They're a good team, so there will be times where we don't think we can score, but defensively we just played solid and offensively we shared the ball. Everyone touched it. It was great.”

The Indians set a definite tone from the get go, forcing turnovers and playing stoutly on the defensive end in the first few minutes of the first period. The Gulls endured a long stretch of bad shots, missed shots and a frustrating inability to get good chances, and were lucky to only trail by three after the first eight minutes.

The offense bogged down a little in the second period, but things got even worse for Seaside. The Gulls hit only two field goals the entire quarter, and though the Indians weren't much better, they still managed to extend their lead to six points at the break, thanks to a big three-pointer from senior Taylor Loss with under a minute to play.

The second half finally brought some offense, as Johnson scored another six points in the period to lead the Indians to a 35-22 lead after three quarters.

As the final frame rolled around, though, the Gulls kicked things in to high gear, going on a 13-4 run and cutting the advantage to just four points at 39-35. A huge three-point play on a fast break from senior Mitch Davis got things rolling for Scappoose once again, and with order restored, the Indians were able to pull away as time ticked down.

Especially in contrast to the loss to Seaside on Feb. 14, a game in which the Indians suffered one of their toughest losses of the regular season, the playoff victory was night and day. It started on defense, but the biggest noticeable difference was on the offensive end. During the losing streak, players would give up open shots and try to force difficult passes, only to watch their pass sail out of bounds or into the opposition's hands.

But against Seaside, all that had change, especially when the ball was in the hands of Johnson, who led all scores with 20. In the first quarter, he rose and took shots the moment the ball touched his hand – sinking a pair of jumpers without the ball having hardly grazed the rim. The second half bore one of the season's best highlights: standing in front of his own bench, Johnson collected a pass and drove toward the basket. No one came to block his progress, so he rose up for a dunk. The ball bounced off the front lip of the rim, and a kind roll brought the visiting fans to their feet and smiles to the players on the floor.

Patience on offense, defensive focus and energy were Tufts keys, but he might have undersold the value of finally getting the monkey off their back with the win last week. Heading into the play-in round, they'll have to figure out what is required to keep their miniature winning streak healthy.

“[We need] the guys to buy in and for them to rep it in practice. Rep it, rep it,” said Tufts. “They clearly bought in on what we were trying to do tonight, and we were successful.”


Scappoose 49, Seaside 38

SCAP 9 8 18 16

SEAS 6 5 11 14

Scappoose (49): Scruggs 7, Margheim 2, Backus, Wendelschafer, Ford 4, Loss 7, Davis 5, Johnson 20, Sprute 4

Seaside (38): Tadei 10, Januik 8, Farmer 9, Richardson 7, Flowers 4

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