Defense carries Oregon City boys to 48-33 home win over Tualatin
When in doubt, Oregon City's boys' basketball team invariably falls back on the thing that the Pioneers do best -- defense.
The Pioneers were at it again Tuesday night, making life miserable for the Tualatin Timberwolves as they rode an unrelenting defense to a 48-33 Three Rivers League home win.
Senior post Erich Nova scored a game-high 17 points to lead three Oregon City players in double figures, but the difference in the game was a Pioneers' defense that held Tualatin to a season-low for points in a game.
Oregon City closed the first half on a 13-4 run to take a 30-14 halftime lead and then let their defense do the rest as the Pioneers (15-6, 6-3 Three Rivers) swept the two-game season series with the Timberwolves (12-8, 4-5).
The Pioneers went into Tuesday's game ranked first among Class 6A teams in fewest points allowed, surrendering an average of 45.8 points a game, so what they did against the Timberwolves really should come as no surprise.
But Tualatin's 33 points not only stood as a season low, but the total also fell 30 points shy of the Timberwolves' season scoring average going intot he game. And that was a bit of a shocker, especially at this stage of the season.
"Oregon City is one of the best defensive teams in the state," Tualatin coach Todd Jukkala said. "We knew that. We just didn't answer their physicality, we didn't get after 50-50 balls as much as we should, and we didn't shoot well.
"And their defense was part of the reason for that."
The Pioneers were still stinging from Monday's 52-42 loss at Lake Oswego that effectively knocked them out of contention for this year's league title and were ready to get back after it on Tuesday.
"It's great that we played right away," Pioneers coach Aaron Newkirk said. "These kids are that way. They care about the result. They want to win. It's not always that way, but they had a bad taste in their mouth after Monday and playing right away ended up being a blessing because they came out and they were ready to roll."
The Pioneers made seven of their first 10 shots from the field in the first quarter and jumped out to a 17-8 lead. Nova, the 6-foot-4 senior, led the way, scoring eight first-quarter points on 4-for-5 shooting with all four shots coming inside the paint.
"There were times when I would make a move and it looked like something was there, so I went for it," Nova said. "Some of the moves were stuff I've been practicing, so I said, 'If I do it in practice, why not do it here?' And it worked."
At the other end of the floor, Tualatin had 12 first-quarter possessions and scored eight points on 4-for-8 shooting with no offensive rebounds and four turnovers.
The Timberwolves scored the first basket of the second quarter, but then Oregon City went on a 13-2 run that ended with Andre Best scoring on a transition lay-up to give the Pioneers a 30-12 lead with 10 seconds left in the first half.
"The start was a good momentum booster," Best said. "Normally, we don't come out like that, but when we do, it's usually a pretty good game.
"Once we had the lead, we could just take our time on offense, pass it around, and look for a good opportunity to score. We didn't need to rush at all."
The Timberwolves twice got the lead down to 12 in the second half, the second time after Johnn Miller grabbed an offensive rebound and scored to make it 34-22 with 2:41 left in the third quarter.
Oregon City came back with a 9-5 run, all but putting the game out of reach when Nova knocked down one of two free throws to make it 43-27 with 4:26 to play in the fourth.
Best finished with 12 points and Corban Remburg added 11 for the Pioneers, who shot 61.3 percent (19 for 31) from the field, 16.7 percent (1 for 6) from 3-point range, and 58.3 percent (7 for 12) at the free-throw line.
Jack Rose led Tualatin with nine points, while Miller had six points and Bridger Steppe had five. The Timberwolves shot 40 percent (10 for 25) from the field, 14.3 percent (1 for 7) from beyond the arc, and 83.3 percent (10 for 12) at the foul line.
"Oregon City is definitely a really tough team," said Rose, who was limited in what he could do after picking up his third foul with 3:05 to play in the second quarter. "They were a lot more physical than the last time we played them and they're really good at stepping in front of people and taking charges.
"It was almost impossible to get to the middle of the floor. They've stepped up every part of their game compared to the last time we played them."
Added Jukkala: "There were some things we did in the second half that helped us out a little bit. Maybe if we'd done them earlier, it would have helped more.
"It's just symptomatic of this league. There are tough games every night and different styles, different match-ups that aren't always good for your team. It's weird how that works, but there are some teams that you don't match-up well against.
"I think Oregon City makes it tough for everybody with the way they play defense."
TUALATIN 8 6 8 11 -- 33
OREGON CITY 17 13 8 10 -- 48
Tualatin (33) -- Jack Rose 9, Dickson 2, Wisler 4, Noland 4, Miller 6, Shaw 1, Spires 2, Steppe 5, Watts, Leneve, Lund.
Oregon City (48) -- Erich Nova 17, Best 12, Remsburg 11, Talley 2, Welch 3, Gettel 3, Bergren, Hanson, Erhardt.