Tualatin boys roll past Sheldon in playoff opener
TUALATIN — One win away.
Thanks to an impressive victory, the Tualatin High School boys basketball team finds itself just one step away from reaching its goal — playing in the Class 6A state tournament.
The Timberwolves made a big move toward reaching that goal by running to a 69-47 win over Sheldon in a Class 6A state playoff first-round game played Wednesday at Tualatin High School.
"We're one win away," said Tualatin senior wing Alexis Angeles, who scored a game-high 33 points in Wednesday's game. "We want to get there."
"This is huge for us," Tualatin senior wing Lucas Noland said. "We're one game away. This has been our goal all season. Really, this is our goal every year. It's a big deal."
With the loss, Sheldon, the No. 3 team out of the Southwest Conference, and the No. 21 team in the final OSAA power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 13-12.
Tualatin, the No. 4 team out of the Three Rivers League, and the No. 12 team in the OSAA power rankings, improved to 17-8 on the season with the victory. The Wolves also advance to the second round of the state playoffs, where they'll meet McNary on Saturday, starting at 7 p.m., at McNary High School.
"If we play like we did tonight, I think we have a great chance of winning," Angeles said, referring to Saturday's second-round match-up. "I really want this one."
The teams met earlier this season, with the Celtics getting a 72-58 win in a contest played Dec. 27 at McNary High School. In that contest, Tualatin held a 34-29 halftime lead before McNary came back in a big way in the second half, pulling away for the victory.
"We didn't play our best in that one," Noland said. "We're excited for a second shot. We think we can do some things."
The Wolves did plenty of good things in Tuesday's playoff opener, and they started doing them early in the contest.
Angeles sank a foul-line jumper to give Tualatin its first lead of the game, at 10-8, with 4 minutes and 5 seconds left to play in the first quarter. The Wolves took off from there.
Angeles scored six point points before the period ended. Junior post Bridger Steppe and junior wing Jason Wisler each added a basket, helping Tualatin push its lead to 20-11 going into the second quarter.
Angeles, shooting at a 5-for-6 clip from the field, scored 14 points in the opening period.
"I felt good in the first quarter," he said with a smile. "I felt like I couldn't miss, and I wanted the ball."
Tualatin junior guard Derek Leneve and junior wing Caden Dickson each sank 3-pointers in the second quarter, both coming off assists from Noland, as the Wolves upped their lead to 30-20 at halftime.
Noland then sank a 3-pointer of his own, upping the Tualatin lead to 35-24 with 4:45 left to play in the third quarter.
"Yeah, that felt good," said Noland, who is a defensive standout for the Wolves.
Tualatin senior Nathan Platter followed that up with a steal and full-court drive for a layup. Angeles then scored nine points in the final 2:51 of the quarter, including three free throws after he was fouled on a long-range attempt coming with 0:00.9 left in the period, giving the Wolves a 47-31 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
Tualatin didn't let up in the final stanza. The Wolves made all 14 of their free-throw attempts in the quarter, with Noland going 4 for 4, and sophomores John Miller and Sam Noland each sank a 3-pointer, as Tualatin rolled to the 69-47 victory.
"Our defense was huge," Angeles said of the key to victory. "We got our hands up. We knew we had to do that going against someone 6-8 (Sheldon junior post Dominic McGarvey."
"Our defensive intensity was big," Noland said. "We were flying around out there."
Free throws also was a key, as the Wolves shot at an amazing 28-for-29 clip from the foul line.
Angeles, in scoring his game-high 33 points, made nine of 16 shots from the field and he was a perfect 14 for 14 from the free-throw line.
Noland, in addition to his usual strong defensive play, also scored seven points, all coming in the second half.
"Lucas did great," Angeles said. "He really impacts the game."
Dickson had five points, five rebounds and two steals. Leneve and Platter also scored five points. Steppe and Wisler each scored four.
Tualatin, as a team, made 18 of 36 shots from the field, with two 3-point baskets.
Tuesday's game also marked the final home contest for Timberwolf seniors Lucas Noland, Platter, Angeles, Chris Freese and Matthew Kachlik.
"We've been through the ups and downs," Noland said of the seniors. "We wanted to go out with a win at home."
McGarvey led Sheldon with 14 points. Junior post Patrick Herbert added nine points for the Irish, and senior Devante Bailey scored eight.
Sheldon, as a team, made 19 of 52 shots from the field, with four 3-point baskets, and five of 15 free-throw attempts.
The winner of Saturday's second-round state playoff game at McNary will advance to the Class 6A state tournament and will face either Barlow or Sprague in a tourney quarterfinal game on March 8, starting at 3:15 p.m. at the University of Portland's Chiles Center.