Bryan Berg scores 19 points to help the Tigers move on

by: MATT SINGLEDECKER - SOARING -- Tigard senior point guard Bryan Berg (1) goes up to the basket against Westview's David Coffey in the second quarter of the Tigers' first round playoff win over the Wildcats. TIGARD — The offense was almost always be there when the Tigard High School boys basketball team needed it.

Barring a rare cold-shooting night, the Tigers could count on consistent point production with such a wide range of potent scorers who can put the ball in the hole in various fashions.

What made Tigard treacherous come Class 6A state playoff time was when the Tigers are tuned in on defense and turned up energy-level wise.

Focused from the opening tip and foaming at the mouth defensively, Tigard used a smothering defense to fuel a fermenting fastbreak attack to vanquish Westview, 59-39, in a Class 6A state playoff first-round game played March 5 at Tigard High School.

Westview, the No. 4 team out of the Metro League, finished its season with a final overall record of 13-12. Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, improved to 18-6 on the season with the win. The Tigard also advance to play at Central Catholic Saturday in a second round state playoff game.

“If we keep our energy level and hustle up, we definitely have the guys to carry us to the Moda Center and maybe even further than that, to the championship game. That’s where we want to end up,” Tigard junior post Joel Johnson said. “Our goal was to outwork them and have more energy than them. If we outwork them, we have the talented guys to help us get the win.”

“Coach (Shawn Alderman) talked about things we could control going into this game,” added senior point guard Bryan Berg. “One of those was talking on defense, being loud and working hard. We can always control that, so that’s what we tried to focus on today.”

“I feel like we were in control the whole game,” said senior forward Elijah Simon. “We came out with energy as we planned and got it done.”by: MATT SINGLEDECKER - TRIPLE TEAMED -- Tigard senior A.J. Hotchkins looks to go up to the basket between a trio of Westview defenders in last week's game.

Trailing 9-8 after a three from Westview’s David Coffey, Tigard closed the first quarter on a 9-0 run getting six points from Berg who came out aggressive and looking to attack early. Berg’s crossover and pull-up jumper in the key gave the Tigers a 17-9 lead at the end of one. Simon and Johnson tacked on hoops as well, complementing Berg’s 10 first-quarter points and three steals.

“We wanted to put them away early,” Johnson said. “We didn’t want them to hang around until the third or fourth quarter because they’re a good team. We knew they could beat us, so we wanted to stomp on them early.”

Westview simply had no answer for Berg, who battered the Wildcat defense with headlong drives to the cup, up-and-under moves in the key, pirouette spins and strong finishes high above the rim. All of Berg’s 15 first half points came either in the paint or the charity stripe.

“Being a leader on the team, I have to set the tone,” said Berg who finished with a game-high 19 points. “You have to set the tone for other guys on the team, so they get fired up also.”

Simon scored four more points in the second quarter. Johnson banked home a lay-in and Nick Kaelin flipped a steal into a score with 30 seconds left in the first half to give Tigard a 30-20 advantage at halftime.

Tigard was well-aware of Westview’s penchant for setting both on-ball and off-ball screens, so the Tigers made sure they stayed skinny, but strong sifting through the various picks and beating the Wildcats to their favorite spots on the floor. The Tigers’ on-ball containment was so strenuous, that most of the time, weakside help wasn’t necessary. Still, Berg, Kaelin and fellow senior guard A.J. Hotchkins had a field day coming off their men from one pass over and hawking the basketball away. In turn, the athletic trio was able to get out in transition and tear to the rim for easy twos or trips to the line.

by: MATT SINGLEDECKER - OUT OF HIS WAY -- Tigard senior Elijah Simon (12) drives against Westview's Alex Carrick in lat week's game.“That’s the type of point guard I am,” said Berg. “I love to run. I love to get the ball in transition and go.”

“It’s easier when we get stops to get out on the break,” added Hotchkins. “Defense always carries over to offense. We get out on the break and get transition buckets. I feel like we played with a lot of intensity on defense.”

Tigard seemingly controlled and dominated the first half, curbing and cutting off Westview’s dribble penetration while holding the Wildcats to just one shot on the glass thanks to efforts of Johnson and the energetic Nico Niblack. Keeping Westview off the boards, triggered the Tigers’ explosive transition game and secondary break.

“Our energy on defense really opened things up for us,” said Simon. “We really looked to get out in the passing lanes and get some steals.”

Westview got as close as 36-27 with 3:25 left on a Jack England three from the right wing. But, Berg made one of two free throws. Then, Simon came off a down pick, squared up at the top of the key and buried it while getting hacked by Westview’s Alex Carrick. Simon finished off the four-point play by making the free throw to put Tigard up 40-29 at the end of the third.

“We came out hard with a lot of intensity and played good defense,” said Hotchkins. “We really emphasize defense in practice and just being in good help position. I think that really carries over to the games.”

Simon set off the fourth quarter with a scintillating, chase-down block of Westview’s Ben Larsen, which led to a Berg lefty lay-up on the other end. Putting his elongated frame and 6-foot-4 high jump ability to good use, Simon startled Larsen by springing high above the Wildcat guard and swatting the rock away with a left-handed thump that sent the Tiger student section into a frenzy.

“Anything I can do to help the team,” said Simon with a smile. “We never wanted to let off the gas. We wanted to keep it going until we found their breaking point, and I think we did a pretty good job of that today.”

Tigard continued to pour it on in the fourth, getting three buckets from Hotchkins, who finished with 14 points. Niblack put home a pair of pick-and-roll passes from Berg to pad the Tigers’ already-substantial advantage.

Simon finished with nine points. Niblack and Johnson each had six.

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