Gophers come oh so close in Sherwood
6A playoffs, first round
|Gresham ... OT|
SHERWOOD — The shot spun high into the air and every eyeball in the gym followed its arc, as it clipped the back of the rim and hung high over the hoop as the horn sounded.
Where it landed would decide the fate of two basketball teams.
"I saw it hanging up there, and I thought it was going to fall through," Sherwood coach Rahim Tufts said.
"I was looking straight at it, and the shot was right on target. I started walking the other way," Gresham coach Erik Lyslo said.
But instead of trickling through the net, gravity brought the ball down and it grazed the front of the rim and fell to the floor.
The miss sent the game into overtime where Sherwood would pounce early to claim a 65-64 win over Gresham in Wednesday's opening round of the 6A playoffs.
Gresham battled back from 12 down in the fourth quarter to tie the game with 0:35 left when Elijah Munyan faked a shot from the free-throw area, took a dribble inside and converted a shot in the paint.
"We knew we had to bring some pressure and change the pace of the game," Lyslo said. "We created some turnovers and got ourselves back in the game."
Sherwood lost the ball out of bounds moments later, setting up Gresham for a shot at the win. Sherwood's Blake Jensen poked the ball loose and took a step the other way only to have Gresham rookie Esyah Pippa-White dive at him to get the ball back on the center-court logo.
The Gophers called timeout to set up a final play with 3.9 seconds left. It was designed to go to either Pippa-White in the left corner or Ethan Abrahamson on the other side of the floor.
Pippa-White got the chance, launching the clean 3 toward the hoop that came up inches from ripping the net.
Given new life, Sherwood took quick command in the extra session with Jensen and Baydon Kullowatz coming up with back-to-back blocks on Gresham's first two possessions.
Meanwhile, Sherwood guard Asher Krauel drew a series of fouls on the perimeter, earning three straight trips to the free-throw line. He knocked down all six foul shots to put the Bowmen up 59-53.
Gresham closed it back down to a two-point game on a Munyan layup followed by a pair of Abrahamson free throws.
The Gophers put on a full-court defense that had Sherwood in trouble, forcing Tufts to scream for a timeout two ticks away from a 10-second violation.
Kullowatz would go 3-for-4 at the stripe over the next minute to put the Bowmen back up 62-57 with 0:35 left.
Gresham made one final push when Pippa-White was fouled on a 3-point try. The shot clipped the back rim and came out, but he sank 2 of 3 at the line to make it a one-possession game with 14.2 seconds left.
Desperate to get the ball back, the Gophers slapped a double team on Sherwood point guard Jamison Guerra, but he stepped through the trap and sent a pass across the floor to teammate Caden Davis, who zipped down the sideline before being fouled.
Two misses at the free-throw line gave the Gophers hope, but it was quickly dashed when Davis tracked down his own rebound. Gresham was forced to foul again.
This time Guerra stepped to the stripe. He missed his first try, but made the second to secure the victory.
"We had some little things cost us, giving up an offensive rebound, some missed free throws, but we battled back and had a chance to win against a conference champion — you couldn't ask for anything more," Lyslo said.
Sherwood (19-6) advances to face No. 3 Jefferson in Saturday's second round, while Gresham ends the season with a 16-9 record.
The teams traded the lead six times during the early stages of play with Gresham taking its final lead at 10-9 when Abrahamson sank a trio of free throws after being fouled on a corner 3.
Sherwood opened up the first double-digit lead of the night late in the first half after cycling passes to all corners of the floor to set up Krauel to sink an open 3 from the right side.
The Bowmen remained up 10 late in the third period when Gresham put on a surge.
Abrahamson picked off a pass and started down the sideline before putting on the brakes and searching out a spot on the top of the arc for a 3-pointer. He tried another deep ball on the team's next trip only to watch it click off the back of the rim. He rushed forward, grabbed the miss and put it off the glass to pull the Gophers within 39-34.
Sherwood responded with Guerra firing a cross-court pass over the top of the defense to feed Davis for a 3, giving the Bowmen their biggest lead at 49-37 approaching five minutes to play.
Gresham put on its final surge with back-to-back 3s from Pippa-White and Nate Caro, followed by Sam Igbonagwam carefully stepping past Sherwood's last defender to finish a fastbreak.
Munyan finished the night with a game-high 21 points.
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GRESHAM 15 12 10 16 11 — 64
SHERWOOD 19 13 10 11 12 — 65
Gresham (64) — Elijah Munyan 21, Abrahamson 14, Pippa-White 13, Sagaio 6, Igbonagwam 5, Caro 3, Evans 2, Henkle, Larsen.
Sherwood (65) — Caden Davis 16, Asher Krauel 13, Kullowatz 12, Jensen 8 Guerra 6, Bergstrom 3, Merrill 3, Marker 2, Ariza 2, Peden.
This story is scheduled for our Friday, March 6, print edition.
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