Molalla boys basketball team fails to hold lead against Astoria
Molalla regrouped from a slow start.
But the Indians could not overcome a floundering finish, as Molalla lost 64-57 to Astoria Friday night at home.
Senior Mason Simpson knocked down a 3-pointer to give Molalla a 52-46 lead with 5:37 remaining.
But the Fishermen answered with an 11-0 run, capped off by an intentional foul on the Indians.
Astoria made both free throws, got the ball back and scored on the possession to take a 57-52 lead with two minutes remaining.
Derek Pederson, who led Molalla with 29 points, four rebounds and three steals, then made two free throws to end the run and get the Indians within 57-54 with 1:46 to go.
But Molalla could not get any closer as Astoria made five or six free throws down the stretch to finish off the Indians.
"Our struggles have been the same all year," Molalla coach Scott Campbell said. "We've just got to take care of the basketball. Our decisions, when it gets to those close times, close games magnify bad habits and one of our biggest challenges is being able to make smart decisions and take care of the basketball.
"The second thing is we've got to be able to guard people. We're trying some different looks, but the bottom line is we've got to be able to get in front of a guy, got to be able to stop him. We struggled with that."
Astoria shot 55.8 percent from the field, compared to 34 percent by Molalla.
The Indians started the game ice cold, digging themselves into an 11-0 hole before Pederson knocked down a 3-pointer with 54 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
"The reality with basketball is you can work and plan and play hard and play defense and rebound and do all those things great, but if the ball doesn't go through the rim you're not going to win," Campbell said. "The ball didn't fall for us. We kept with it. Eventually we started hitting shots and that makes things a little bit easier."
Molalla trailed 19-7 after the Fishermen hit a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the end of the first quarter and then another to start the second.
But a 3-pointer by Pederson followed by back-to-back treys by Brendan Long got Molalla within 22-18.
After the Indians made five of six free throws, Ty Bauge, who finished with nine points, five rebounds and three assists, scored to give Molalla its first lead, 25-24, with 2:15 remaining in the first half.
Astoria led 28-25 at halftime, but another Pederson 3-pointer tied the game at 37-37 with 2:50 remaining in the third period.
Simpson, who finished with nine points and five assists, then knocked down a 3-pointer to tie the game at 40-40 with 1:30 to go.
Tied 42-42 to start the fourth quarter, the Indians went on a 10-4 run before going cold in the final five minutes.
"We're losing to teams that we should be beating," Simpson said of Astoria, which entered the game with a 1-11 record. "It was a tough night. This really hurt."
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