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Bowmen silence Sandy in battle atop league ladder

The Sandy boys basketball team falls cold as it falls to Sherwood, 49-35.


by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy head coach Jason Maki delivers a point during a timeout in Fridays home loss to Sherwood. Shutting down Sherwood big man Jordan Kurahara was the top priority for the Sandy boys’ basketball team on Friday night. The Pioneers were largely successful in that pursuit, but it came at a cost. With the attention on Kurahara, Sherwood’s Lucas Johnson flourished offensively and led the Bowmen to a 49-35 victory at Sandy.

“You choose your poison,” Sandy coach Jason Maki said. “We always doubled [Kurahara] when he touched it, but you end up leaving somebody open. Johnson killed us, he played great. Any time you have to take somebody away you generally give up something.”

Sandy clamped down on Kurahara out of the gate and never let him free. He scored just two points in the first half and six in the game. In his place, Johnson burned the Pioneers in the post, on the perimeter and at the free-throw line.

Johnson got the Bowmen rolling with four points in the first quarter, but really turned it on in the second. He went 4-for-6 from the field in the second period and scored all nine Sherwood points, leading the Bowmen to a 25-16 halftime lead.

Despite the nine-point deficit, the Pioneers came out of halftime with all the energy. Timmy Grozav and Canyon Dwyre each connected on shots from in the paint in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter to bring Sandy to within six points. The Pioneers then came up with some big defensive stops to get the ball back, but those opportunities were squandered on the other end. A turnover and missed layup gave the ball right back to Sherwood and Sandy’s best chance to get back in the game was gone.

“That has been the pattern in our four losses,” Maki said. “There has been a stretch in the game where it is a four- or six-point lead and we made a few mistakes and they capitalized, then all of a sudden it’s 10 or 11, and we’re not a great come-from-behind team.”

That sequence in the first few minutes of the second half really summed up the game for the Pioneers. They played reasonably well defensively for most of the night, and probably did enough to win in that phase of the game, but they could not get anything going on offense.

Sandy struggled mightily to get anything to fall from the field. It had countless shots that appeared to be halfway down the cylinder before spinning out and into the hands of the Bowmen. Sandy made just one 3-pointer, and that came from Juan Ruiz with 45 seconds left in the game. The lone long ball from Ruiz was one of just two field goals Sandy made from outside the paint.

“Our margin for error playing a good team is small and we have to make some shots,” Maki said.

The Pioneers had to play more aggressively in the fourth quarter to try to get something going, so they committed a hefty dose of fouls. The Bowmen were solid at the line in the period, preventing Sandy from cutting into their advantage.

“We knew they were going to come at us, so we knew we were going to have to make some free throws,” Johnson said. “We just wanted to make sure we took care of the ball so we could get to the line.”

Austin Gorski was Sandy’s leading scorer with seven points while Canyon Dwyre and Bryce Tilton each had six.

Johnson finished with 20 points for the Bowmen. Sherwood guard Evan Kitto followed with 12 points, nine of which came at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

The Pioneers brushed off the loss less than 24 hours later with a quality bounce-back performance at Milwaukie. They were much more efficient offensively as they downed the Mustangs 62-50.

With the win at Milwaukie, Sandy improved to 7-3 in NWOC play and 16-4 overall. Sandy entered the week ranked No. 9 in the Class 5A rankings, immediately behind Sherwood and Wilsonville. The top eight teams in the final rankings earn automatic spots in the 16-team playoff bracket. Sherwood and Wilsonville play each other in the final week of the regular season, so the Pioneers could jump the loser of that game in the rankings by winning out.

View a photo gallery from the game at parkerlee.exposuremanager.com.