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Southridge gets off to a fast start, runs away from the Bulldogs early on; gets Roosevelt next

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Southridge junior Kade Hustler and the Hawks hammered West Albany in the 6A first round.

A chase-down block? A four-point play? An attempted alley-oop? All those things happened at Southridge High School as the Skyhawks dispatched the West Albany Bulldogs 92-36 in their first-round playoff game Wednesday night.

The Skyhawks went to work early, hitting five first-quarter threes en route to taking a 54-16 lead at halftime. Most of the Hawks offense came in transition as they were able to get the ball down the floor in two or three passes before getting an open look at the rim or an uncontested three.

The Bulldogs tried everything they could, including setting high traps and being aggressive on the ball handler, but they could not match the amount of talent that the Skyhawks had on the floor.

Bo Quinlan had an impressive game for the Hawks, providing a spark on offense with multiple threes and also playing solid defense that was highlighted by a chase-down block midway through the third quarter.

Even when the Bulldogs knew exactly what the Skyhawks were doing, they still couldn't stop it. On an inbounds play during the second quarter, West Albany head coach Derek Duman called out exactly what the Hawks did before they inbounded the ball, yet Filip Fullerton found himself wide open for the easy layup.

While this game might have been an easier test for the Metro League champions, they know that they can not take any playoff game lightly and expect to win.

"We need to respect every game, respect every opponent that we play from here on out," Brock Henry said. "The teams that we're going to be playing are in the playoffs for a reason. We can't slack off, we just got to come to games ready, prepared to play, and play every game like it's our last."

To get to this point, the Skyhawks went through a season in which they became very close as a team. With significant victories over Jesuit and Beaverton and winning the Metro League title for the first time in school history, the Skyhawks acquired chemistry is a strength that they believe will help them make a deep playoff run.

"We're tight-knit. We're a close group of guys, and we're all for one. We stick together through everything," Kade Hustler said.

"We have a lot of talent both in our starting five and off the bench. It's insane this year; we're crazy deep. We're all brothers, we all play for each other, we're all unselfish, so it's really fun playing with this team out there," Henry added.

The Skyhawks have perhaps their best chance to win the state championship in school history, but to do so, they'll have to go through top teams such as Lake Oswego, Jefferson, and Grant. However, Vesel can point back to one game this season as an example of why he has the utmost confidence in his group to get the task done.

At the Les Schwab Invitational in late December, the Hawks took on a nationally ranked Crespi Celts basketball team and almost pulled off the upset, despite not having starting center Filip Fullerton in the lineup due to pneumonia.

"We were right there without our best player so I think our guys feel pretty tested, like we can go play anybody," Vesel said.

The Skyhawks are now back to where they finished last season; the second-round of the playoffs. The Hawks are hoping the game will go differently this year as they take on the Roosevelt Roughriders at Southridge High School on Saturday night for a chance to make it to the Chiles Center.

"Every year's a different team, a different makeup, different leaders," Vesel said. "We have two home playoff games, that was a goal of ours, so we need to come out ready to play and set the tone like we did tonight."

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