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The Tigers come back strong in second half of the 67-56 loss in Friday's non-league game

DAN BROOD - Tigard High School freshman Drew Carter (right) looks to battle his way to the basket in Friday's game. TIGARD — The Tigers weren't at full force.

Their opponents got off to a red-hot start.

But, no matter what, they say they weren't about to quit.

And that almost paid off for the Tigard High School boys basketball team.

The Tigers, playing without injured standout senior post Austin Dufort, faced a 23-point third-quarter deficit to hot-shooting Central Catholic before battling back strong in a 67-56 loss to the Rams in a non-league game played Friday at Tigard High School.

"We fought back," said Tigard junior wing Stevie Schlabach, who led all scorers in the contest with 22 points. "We turned it up in the second half."

"It went OK," said Tigard freshman wing Drew Carter, who came off the bench to score 19 points, while also reaching double digits in rebounds. "It's not what we wanted, but we tried to get it back under 10 points. It was a great team effort."

With the win, Central Catholic improved to 2-1 on the season to that point.

Tigard moved to 1-3 on the season, to that point, with the setback.

"It's preseason, and we're still figuring things out," Carter said. "This is a great group of guys, and I think we have a good team."

DAN BROOD - Tigard senior Jake Leavitt (center) looks to drive to the basket during the Tigers' game with Central Catholic."It's just the fourth game, and we're still getting to know each other," Schlabach said.

Central Catholic, in Friday's game, got off to a sizzling start to the contest. Senior Isaac Amaral-Artharee and freshman Darius Gakwasi sank back-to-back three-pointers to give the Rams a 20-8 lead with 3 minutes and 13 seconds left to play in the first quarter. Central Catholic shot at an 8-for-11 clip from the field, with four three-pointers, in the opening period, on its way to claiming a 24-10 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Tigard tried to battle back early in the second quarter. Tiger sophomore guard Max Lenzy opened the period with a layup, off a pass by junior wing Carson Crist. Carter followed that up with a three-pointer from the left corner and a basket on a drive to the hoop, trimming the Central Catholic lead to 25-17 with 6:33 left to play in the first half.

But the Rams answered back, getting a pair of three-point baskets by senior guard Chase Faris, as they pushed their lead to 35-21 at halftime.

Central Catholic kept rolling in the third quarter. The Rams, getting a pair of baskets from Amaral-Artharee, went on a 10-0 run, pushing the margin to 48-25 with 2:23 left in the period.

But Tigard wouldn't throw in the towel.

Schlabach ended the Central Catholic run with a three-point, coming off an assist by Carter. Then, after Central Catholic got a basket on a drive by Gakwasi, Schlabach scored on a layup off another Carter assist. He then sank another three-pointer, this coming off a pass from junior Diego Lopez, helping Tigard trim the margin to 53-33 at the end of the period.

The Tigers kept with their rally attempt in the fourth quarter.

DAN BROOD - Tigard junior guard Jake Bullard (right) tries to fend off Central Catholic freshman Darius Gakwasi during Friday's game.Carter scored seven straight points early in the final stanza, senior Jake Leavitt sank a three-pointer from the left side and Schlabach and junior Jake Bullard each went 2 for 2 from the free throw line, as Tigard cut the Central Catholic lead to 57-47 with 4:33 remaining in the contest.

Gakwasi ended the Tigard run with a three-pointer, but it didn't take the Tigers long to get going again. Schlabach scored four straights, two coming on a layup following a steal by Carter, and Bullard connected on two more free throws, getting Tigard within eight, at 61-53, with 2:21 left in the contest.

But, again, Gakwasi came through for the Rams, sinking another run-ending three-pointer, upping the margin to 64-53 with 1:58 remaining.

Schlabach converted a three-point play with 38.4 seconds remaining, but the Tigers couldn't get within double digits again, as they fell 67-56.

"We'll learn from this game," Carter said. "We have to be more aggressive. This was hard, but we'll come back and play better. We definitely have potential."

"We're looking good, so far," Schlabach said. "And we're getting better."

Schlabach had five rebounds and a pair of blocked shots to go with his game-high 22 points. In addition to the 19 points from Carter, the Tigers also got nine points by Leavitt, four from Bullard and two from Lenzy.

DAN BROOD - Tigard junior Stevie Schlabach (center) looks to shoot over Central Catholic's Donald Hunter during Friday's game.Tigard, as a team, made 16 of 41 shots from the field and 19 of 25 free-throw attempts.

Gakwasi led Central Catholic with 20 points. Amaral-Artharee added 14 for the Rams, and sophomore DeRay Seamster had 10.

Central Catholic, as a team, made 25 of 48 shots from the field and eight of 14 free-throw attempts.

Tigard, on Tuesday, fell 102-64 to Grant in a non-league game played at the Marshall campus. Schlabach scored 31 points in that game, and Carter added 16.

The Tigers will be back in action on Friday, when they host Camas, Wash., in a non-league game starting at 7 p.m. at Tigard High School. On Tuesday, Tigard will be home to face Westview at 6 p.m. in a first-round game at the Bill Gabel Invitational. The Tigers will host Parkrose on Wednesday, in an invitational game starting at 6 p.m.

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