Scappoose boys back on winning track at home
The first half of the Cowapa League season produced plenty of growth opportunities for the Scappoose High School boys basketball team.
On Wednesday, the Indians needed to cash in on that experience.
Trailing Astoria by a point entering the fourth quarter, the Indians did just that, earning a 55-47 win over the visiting Fishermen as the league schedule reached its halfway point.
Senior guard Chris Bendle led the way with 21 points as the Indians won at home for the first time since Dec. 21.
"It's big for us. I think it gives us momentum going into our next few games," said senior guard Joey Wagenknecht, who made a deep 3-pointer early in the fourth quarter to help Scappoose surge to victory.
With the win, Scappoose improved to 1-4 in Cowapa play (8-10 overal), while Astoria fell to 0-5 in league (3-16 overall).
The next few games for the Indians include a Friday visit from No. 2-ranked Seaside followed by a Tuesday trip to Tillamook.
It will be a group of wounded Seagulls who come to Scappoose on Friday. Missing two starters — including top scorer Chase Januik with a broken wrist — Seaside (15-3) is coming off a 66-30 loss at top-ranked Banks.
Scappoose coach Weston Powers noted that his team played the Gulls closer than most teams in a 57-53 loss at Seaside to open league play. That effort, along with Wednesday's win over Astoria, should provide confidence for Friday, Powers said.
"We played great down there. We only lost by four and were up at times in the fourth quarter," Powers said. "I think we match up well size-wise with them."
What the Indians lack in size, they try to make up for with speed, quickness and shooting.
On Wednesday, those strengths came through over the final eight minutes — particularly during a 10-2 burst at the start of the fourth quarter that decided the game.
Trailing 36-35 at the end of three quarters, Scappoose scored the first eight points of the fourth period. Senior guard Jerad Toman scored inside, Wagenknecht drained a deep 3-pointer from the top of the key and Bendle hit a 3-pointer from the right corner to make the score 43-36 Indians with 5:22 on the clock.
Two of those baskets came after steals.
"We switched to a little half-court trap there and that gave them some problems in the fourth quarter," Powers said. "Then the seniors and some of the other guys stepped up and made big shots. We handled their pressure when they tried to speed us up at the end."
Once Scappoose grabbed the lead, it held on by spreading the court on offense to take advantage of its quickness.
When Astoria pulled to within three points twice in the last 90 seconds — including on the fifth 3-pointer of the night for senior guard Karsten Johnson — Scappoose senior forward/center Bradley Verbout made three free throws and Wagenknecht sank two foul shots to stretch the lead beyond one possession.
Sophomore Logan Travis and Toman added free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the victory.
Powers said better work on the boards in the second and fourth quarters were key to the win.
Astoria led 14-6 after one quarter, but Scappoose responded with a 19-point second quarter to earn a 25-25 halftime tie.
"We improved our intensity a lot. Getting our legs under us a little bit, pressuring the ball and playing our style were key" to the second quarter, Wagenknecht said.
An inside basket from sophomore post Tommy McKedy and five quick points from Bendle got the Indians off to a fast start in the third quarter. But the Fishermen scored nine points in a row midway through the third before the Scappoose defense held the visitors silent over the last four minutes of that period.
"In the first quarter and the third quarter, we had some lapses where we didn't play very good defense, didn't rebound the ball very well," Powers said. "The second quarter and fourth quarter, we really turned it on and made some nice little runs."
After giving up 70 points in their previous two games, including in a 70-39 loss on Jan. 26 at Valley Catholic, the Indians held the Fishermen under 50.
At Valley Catholic, Bendle scored 20 points and Wagenknecht 13. The Valiants took control with a 28-13 second quarter.
Banks (19-0, 5-0, No. 1-ranked in 4A) is first in the Cowapa at the midpoint, followed by Seaside, Valley Catholic (14-5, 3-2), Tillamook (11-7, 2-3), Scappoose and Astoria.