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The Newberg Tigers point to turnovers as the primary issue in their recent losses

The Newberg boys basketball team picked up a 75-35 home victory over Centennial on Dec. 17 before travelling up the road to Mountainside High School for a tournament.GRAPHIC PHOTO: GARY ALLEN - Junior guard Corban Muthiah – younger brother of graduated former hoopster Caleb – has been a key contributor for the Newberg boys basketball team this season.

The Tigers (2-4) lost 69-49 to Oregon City and 63-48 to Sunset. Coach Mark Brown said he saw signs of improvement in those games despite a pair of lopsided losses.

"I like the progress we're seeing," Brown said. "When we give ourselves an opportunity to score, we shoot the ball really well. The biggest difference in games has been turnovers, which has prevented us from getting good looks or any looks at all. Against Sunset over 40 percent of our possessions ended in a turnover."

Newberg has an effective field goal percentage – which weighs toward three-pointers more than two-pointers – of greater than 50 percent this season, Brown said. The problem has been the turnovers, which prevent the offense from getting a look in the first place.

Brown's team likes to play fast, but haphazard play on the fast break and within the confines of its half court offense has produced some inconsistencies. The three most recent games show that.

"Against Centennial, we only had turnovers on 12 percent of our possessions," Brown said. "Match that with our 51 percent effective field goal percentage in that game and we're able to score 75 points. There were definitely differences in the competitive ability of a team like Sunset versus a team like Centennial, but I thought our game was much improved as well.

"It all comes down to taking care of the ball. Our defense is tough and we're putting a lot of pressure on teams, and we need to use that to initiate some of our offense. Consistency and maintaining a competitive advantage will depend on if we can take care of the ball or not."

Junior Vaibhav Brooks had 18 points in Newberg's 40-point win over Centennial, including a quartet of three-pointers. Brooks's sharp shooting has been a highlight of the season so far, Brown said, as has been the outside stroke of senior Zach Macris.

Senior Jake Gaunt had eight points to supplement Brooks in the Centennial game. Despite the loss to Sunset, Macris managed a team-high 12 in that one. A variety of top scoring performances illustrates Newberg's depth and balance, Brown said.

"We have a balanced offensive attack," Brown said. "We're not dependent on one individual. Different guys are going to step up on different nights and all of our guys compete and work their tails off. Some night, some guys will get hot while others will step back and play their roles."

Newberg played at the Mountainside tournament on Friday and Saturday, with both of their games played after The Graphic went to press. The Tigers' first matchup was with Mountainside and the second was either with Bend or Clackamas.

"It's going to be a tough weekend for us, but we like the challenge," Brown said prior to the contests. "We know we can be competitive with those teams, though, and it will be a good test going into break."

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