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Sandy makes it a two-point game late, but Gresham seals win from free-throw line

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Sandys Tanner Brewster looks to get rid of the ball before a double-team arrives during the Pioneers 57-50 loss to Gresham.

Mount Hood Conference

Team Score
Gresham Gophers
Sandy Pioneers

The Sandy boys basketball team put together a late challenge, but could not catch Gresham in a 57-50 road loss last week.

Down by 10 as the clock ticked under four minutes, Sandy made its charge with Tanner Brewster moving away from a screen and dribbling into the lane to sneak a runner over the front of the rim. Brewster would hit the boards to finish off a third-chance bucket to bring the Pioneers within 47-45 with 2:08 to play.

Gresham answered the challenge with Nate Caro sinking his fourth trey of the night, while Ethan Evans drew a charge along the baseline to force a Sandy turnover.

"That felt like a game changer. You could hear the crowd going crazy, and it was a spark for us," Caro said. "We were moving the ball like there was no tomorrow, and the created a lot of open shots for us."

Gresham was up 55-47 with half-a-minute to play.

The Pioneers needed points in a hurry.

They would get the points, but not soon enough.

Sandy looked to get the ball to its top scorer in Pierce Roeder, but as he had most of the night, Gresham's Sam Igbonagwam was in his hip pocket the entire time.

"We preached defense in practice all week," Igbonagwam said. "I face-guarded Roeder, trying to keep the ball away from him and forcing him into tough shots when he did get it."

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Sandys Pierce Roeder releases a shot over Gresham rookie Esyah Pippa-White.

Pioneers' coach Jason Maki shouted 'Shoot the ball' from the sideline, and Roeder obliged, launching a tightly-contested 3 from several steps behind the arc. The shot rattled home, but Gresham's defense had forced 20 seconds off the clock.

A pair of Caro free throws ended the game.

The Gophers went 7-for-8 (87.5%) from the free-throw line down the stretch.

Roeder finished with a game-high 28 points, while rookie Esyah Pippa-White led the Gophers with 17.

Isaiah Rink knocked down a triple from the top of the arc to bring Sandy within 25-23 at halftime.

The Pioneers kept it close early in the second half when Roeder made a move along the baseline for a layup, then sank a 3 with a hand in his face on the next trip.

Gresham opened up its biggest lead of the night at 10 points after Ethan Abrahamson converted a third-chance bucket with less than five minutes to play.

Sandy bounced back with a 60-43 win at Centennial on Friday night with Roeder hitting 9 of 17 (52.9%) of his shots for a game-high 27 points. He and Gavin Schippers combined to go 10-for-10 at the free-throw line.

The Pioneers took a four-point lead into the fourth quarter before breaking the game open with a 25-point finish.

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This story is slated for our Jan. 29, print edition.

— - MHC basketball

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