Sherwood downs the Pioneers to stay in a tie for first place

SANDY — You can't stop them all.

All the Bowmen, that is.

The Sandy High School boys basketball team found that out the hard way.

Shutting down Sherwood senior big man Jordan Kurahara was the top priority for the Pioneers on Friday. Sandy was largely successful in that pursuit, but it came at a cost. With the attention on Kurahara, Sherwood senior forward Lucas Johnson flourished offensively and led the Bowmen to a 49-35 victory in the Northwest Oregon Conference game played at Sandy High PARKER LEE - PASSING ATTACK -- Sherwood senior Alex Castaneda looks to pass the ball inside during the Bowmen's win at Sandy on Friday.

“You choose your poison,” Sandy coach Jason Maki said. “We always doubled [Kurahara] when he touched it, but you end up leaving somebody open. Johnson killed us, he played great. Any time you have to take somebody away you generally give up something.”

“We knew they were going to try and take Jordan away,” Johnson said. “So we knew we were going to have to do something different.”

Sandy fell to 6-3 in NWOC play at that point with the loss. Sherwood improved to 8-1 in conference games (15-3 overall), at that point, keeping the Bowmen in a tie with Wilsonville for the top spot in the league standings.

In Friday's game, Sandy clamped down on Kurahara out of the gate and never let him free. He scored just two points in the first half and six in the game. In his place, Johnson burned the Pioneers in the post, on the perimeter and at the free-throw line.

Johnson got the Bowmen rolling with four points in the first quarter, but really turned it on in the second. He went 4-for-6 from the field in the second period and scored all nine Sherwood points, leading the Bowmen to a 25-16 halftime lead.

Despite the nine-point deficit, the Pioneers came out of halftime with all the energy. Timmy Grozav and Canyon Dwyre each connected on shots from in the paint in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter to bring Sandy to within six points. The Pioneers then came up with some big defensive stops to get the ball back, but those opportunities were squandered on the other end. A turnover and missed layup gave the ball right back to Sherwood and Sandy’s best chance to get back in the game was gone.

“We just tried to stick with our game plan and make our possessions long,” Johnson said. “We wanted to make sure we took great shots, not just good shots.”

The Pioneers had to play more aggressively in the fourth quarter to try to get something going, so they committed a hefty dose of fouls. The Bowmen were solid at the line in the period, preventing Sandy from cutting into their advantage.

“We knew they were going to come at us, so we knew we were going to have to make some free throws,” Johnson said. “We just wanted to make sure we took care of the ball so we could get to the line.”

Austin Gorski was Sandy’s leading scorer with seven points while Canyon Dwyre and Bryce Tilton each had six.

Johnson finished with 20 points for the Bowmen. Sherwood guard Evan Kitto followed with 12 points, nine of which came at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.

Kurahara, while being the focus of the Sandy defense, was a defensive force himself in the win. He also was a force on the boards, not giving Sandy many second-chance opportunities.

The Bowmen picked up another conference victory on Saturday, as they bested Liberty 46-34 in a game played at Liberty High School.

Johnson scored 21 points in that contest and Kurahara added 17.

On Tuesday, Sherwood was upset 44-40 by Parkrose in a game played at Parkrose High School. Kurahara and Kitto each scored 13 points in that game and Johnson had 11.

Wilsonville also lost on Tuesday, falling at Liberty, keeping the Bowmen and the Wildcats tied for first place in the conference standings at 9-2.

Sherwood will be back in action tonight (Thursday) when it plays at Milwaukie in a league game starting at 7:15 p.m. On Tuesday, the Bowmen will host rival Wilsonville in a showdown set to start at 7:15 p.m. at Sherwood High School.

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