Big second half keeps Saints in the chase
|Mt. Hood CC Saints|
|Portland CC Panthers|
PORTLAND — Mt. Hood Community College guard Davion Stringer took the inbounds pass and went coast-to-coast for a buzzer-beating layup that sent the Saints into the locker room up 43-41 over Portland on Wednesday night.
"I didn't want to waste any time, and I knew I could get past all of them," Stringer said.
It marked the 11th lead change of the first half, as the teams teeter-tottered up and down.
Mt. Hood would stay up the rest of the way en route to a 91-76 victory that kept its playoff hopes alive.
Stringer kept the hot hand coming out of the locker room. His first move was to drive the lane before leaving the ball off for Chris Jackson to finish at the rim. The next trip, Stringer sank a 3 from the top of the arc.
Portland's Tariq Harris had sagged back behind the play, leaving him an open path for an answering layup. But Mt. Hood's Iversyn Smith rushed back on defense and got in the way enough to bother Harris' shot. Mt. Hood snagged the rebound, and Smith went unnoticed in front of the Saints' bench and drilled a 3.
The Saints kept rolling with Leonard Dixon dribbling down the floor and finding Jahville Collins at the front of the rim for a three-point play and a 69-56 lead midway through the second half.
A few minutes later, Mt. Hood plucked the ball loose on the defensive end. Dixon dribbled to the top of the arc, sidestepped one defender and swished a triple over the top of another.
He stared down the Portland bench on his way back on defense, and several Panthers barked back.
Portland's Ethan Channel drove the baseline and rose up to finish at the rim only to have Dixon swoop in for the block.
"When other teams start talking that makes me want to play that much harder," Dixon said.
Portland was running out of time to make a comeback when the Saints' defense dug in and forced a long possession. With the shot clock ticking down, the Panthers hoisted a contested 3 that came off the back of the rim. Jackson pulled down the rebound for Mt. Hood and was fouled in the process.
He made the first of two free throws at the other end, and teammate Collins grabbed his second-attempt miss and went straight up for a layup.
The Saints had their biggest lead of the night at 87-68 with 4:10 to play.
"It was secure all the rebounds and use the clock as our teammate," Dixon said.
Collins finished with a team-high 26 points for the Saints, while Dixon had 19 and Stringer added 17. Portland's Channel scored a game-high 28.
The win keeps Mt. Hood (12-14) in fifth place — one spot behind Chemeketa in the chase for the final playoff spot out of the South.
"If we want to go to the playoffs, we have to win out, but it's never too late," Stringer said.
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Mt. Hood women keep hold on second place
|Mt. Hood CC Saints|
|Portland CC Panthers|
The Mt. Hood women's team shook off a sluggish start to score a 67-48 win over last-place Portland.
The Saints found themselves trailing 9-5 midway through the first quarter after Portland's India Gultry pulled off three-point plays on back-to-back possessions.
Mt. Hood finished the quarter with a 10-point flurry to gain a lead it would not surrender.
Ashley Parry sank a corner 3, and on the next trip, Sydney Greene connected from the opposite side of the floor. The scoring spree ended with Emily Webber calling for the ball on the block, then spinning past her defender for a layup.
Tatyana Lyles started the second quarter by drilling a triple off an inbounds pass. She was setting up outside the arc again on the next trip before whipping a pass to the far block where teammate Bri Rosales finished a layup for a 20-11 lead.
"We came out slow at the start, but we started pressing and that helped bring the energy up," Rosales said.
Later in the first half, Rosales knocked down a Panthers' pass and took the ball the distance. Teammates Sydney Greene and Kelsey Higgins combined to hit three straight 3s to put the game out of reach 40-21 before halftime.
Greene connected on four 3s for the game and led the Saints with 12 points, while Lyles added 11 points.
Gultry finished with a game-high 30, accounting for all but two of the Panthers' first-half points.
The Saints (18-8) enter the weekend tied with Clackamas for second place in the South — a half-game ahead of Lane in a tight jumble of teams trying to claim the No. 2 seed.
"We've set goals from the beginning of the season, and we are living up to them," Rosales said. "Now, we want to go out with two more wins and get that second place."
This story is scheduled for our Friday, Feb. 21, print edition.
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