Pioneers pick up pivotal win in playoff push
6A BOYS BASKETBALL
Mount Hood Conference
The Sandy boys basketball team spoiled Gresham's plans and came up with an 85-78 home win that kept the Pioneers in contention for one of the 6A wildcard spots.
Down by four late in the first half, Gresham's rookie guard Esyah Pippa-White held for the last shot in hopes of shrinking the margin heading into the locker room. Those plans were spoiled when Sandy punched the ball loose on his drive through the lane. Pioneers' senior Colby Carson snagged the ball, checked the sideline clock and sent a high-arcing heave toward the far basket from beyond 3/4-court.
"I hucked it up there and it looked like it was going in," Carson said.
Indeed it did.
The ball hit the middle of the square and deflected cleanly through the hoop for an unexpected three points and a 42-35 halftime lead. After trading the lead four times in the first half, the Pioneers would stay a step ahead throughout the second.
"That definitely gave us the momentum coming out for the second half," Carson said.
Sandy hit the boards hard early in the second half, earning seven chances at the hoop before Carson finished the possession with a finish at the side of the rim.
The Pioneers would open the gap up to as many as 12 points late in the third quarter after Tanner Brewster swatted an offensive rebound out to the perimeter where teammate Gavin Schippers squared up for a 3-pointer.
Sandy maintained a double-digit margin into the fourth quarter when Pierce Roeder slid along the baseline, grabbed an offensive rebound and fired a pass out to the top of the arc. He then slipped unnoticed back into the corner, got the ball back and drilled a 3 from in front of the Pioneers' bench.
Gresham made its charge with Pippa-White popping a deep 3 from the top of the arc. Elijah Munyon poked a ball loose deep in the defensive end, then assisted Ethan Abrahamson on a floater down the lane. On the team's next trip, Munyan sank a pair of free throws to bring the Gophers within two with 6:02 to play.
That's when Sandy went to the helmet and shoulder pads.
Tanner Brewster, a quarterback during the football season, fired long bombs to Pierce Roeder, who basically ran stop-and-go routes down the sideline for layups. The duo pulled off the play three times in the fourth quarter.
"That's one of our go-to plays. I just have to read the defense," Brewster said.
With the clock ticking under four minutes, Sandy cleared the right side of the floor for Roeder, who came off a screen by Brewster only to run out of room along the baseline.
No worries. He simply pumped the brakes and whipped a pass to the far corner where teammate Kaleb Hubbard sank an open 3 for a 73-66 lead.
"We work that play all the time in practice, and we expect someone to be there in the corner," Roeder said.
Gresham made a final push with Munyan hitting his sixth deep ball of the night to pull the Gophers within three.
The Gophers put on a full-court press in their quest to get the ball back, but Sandy evaded a pair of dangerous double teams in the backcourt, and Brewster sank a pair of free throws at the other end to secure the victory.
Sandy broke out to a 14-2 lead in the first quarter with Chet Chamberlain providing an early spark with a baseline layup and a triple from the right side.
Roeder also provided a highlight moment when he changed direction twice on a trip through the lane, treating defenders like traffic cones, before putting a layup off the glass. He finished with a game-high 31 points.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season, the Mount Hood Conference is in position to send six teams to the playoffs.
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GRESHAM 9 26 19 24 — 78
Gresham (78) — Elijah Munyan 26, Abrahamson 21, Pippa-White 17, Sagaio 8, Evans 6, Igbonagwam 2, Caro, Larsen, Welch.
Sandy (85) — Pierce Roeder 31, Hubbard 15, Brewster 12, Carson 11, Chamberlain 7, Schippers 5, Wagner 2, Rink 2, Miller 2.
This story is scheduled for our Feb. 19, print edition.
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