Maintaining their place among the top teams in the Pacific Conference, the Newberg High School boys basketball team picked up a pair of wins last week to improve their record in league play.
The Tigers (10-7, 4-1 Pacific Conference) beat Glencoe 47-37 on Jan. 28 and handled rival McMinnville 50-35 on Jan. 31. Both games were played on the road.
The Glencoe game started slow for Newberg but steadily picked up, with a second half run that led to a double-digit victory.
"We played well down the stretch and made up for the fact that we had some guys out," NHS coach Mark Brown said. "We got frustrated early in that game with the officiating and let that effect our start, but once we got over that mentally we were able to finish strong. We didn't shoot the ball terribly well in the first half, but eventually we turned it on."
After handling the Crimson Tide, the Tigers traveled southwest to face McMinnville in its renovated gym packed with fans from both sides of the classic rivalry.
"Mac is always a fun one. It's one of the oldest rivalries in the state and their new gym was pretty full," Brown said. "We were ready for their best shot and we ended up putting together a strong performance. It took us a while to find our rhythm, but once we did we embraced our style."
As the season progresses, Brown said junior forward Spencer Lanier is emerging as a steady leader for Newberg.
He had 11 points against Glencoe, shored up by nine points from Jovy Ogles, including a trio of three-pointers.
Scoring is still often done by committee for this Newberg squad, Brown said, and Newberg is getting the hang of its fast-paced style as it continues to dispatch league foes.
The only loss so far in league play was as 65-45 loss to Sherwood on Jan. 24 in Newberg.
The Tigers played Liberty on Tuesday night after press time, wrapping up the first half of their league schedule.
They travel to Sherwood on Friday for a marquee matchup that will likely pit the No. 1 and No. 2 teams in the Pacific Conference against each other.
"This is a big week for us," Brown said. "We wrap up our first round of league with Liberty and our hope is to finish this stretch 5-1. I'm expecting Liberty to be an evenly matched game between two teams jockeying for position in league.
"Part of the challenge for this week is not looking ahead to Sherwood. It's a nominee for the game of the week through KGW, Sherwood is No. 1 in league, and that has become a pretty fun rivalry between the two of us."
Slowing down Sherwood's star senior Jamison Guerra will be key for Newberg on Friday night as it tries to earn its biggest win of the season. While the Tigers were successful in some areas defensively last time the two teams faced off, Brown is hoping for an improved performance on both ends this time around to keep the contest close and give Newberg a chance.
"As a coach, we're working hard to find out what we can do to play with and beat them," Brown said. "The keys in that game for us will be taking away the perimeter shot, but not allowing them to get to the rim at will. A lot of their success in the first game was because we let them get out in transition, too."
Newberg vs. Sherwood tips off at 5:45 p.m. Friday at Sherwood High School.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.