The Tigers win the title at the Cody Hardin Invitational

DAN BROOD - Tigard High School sophomore post Keishon Dawkins is congratulated by his teammates as he heads to the bench during Friday's game. Dawkins scored 21 points and had eight rebounds in the 65-40 win over Sprague. TIGARD — They're young.

They're having fun.

They're working hard.

And they're off to a roaring start to the season.

The Tigard High School boys basketball team, seeming filled with enthusiasm and potential, opened the 2015-2016 by rolling to a 65-40 win over Sprague in a first-round game of the Cody Hardin Invitational, played Friday at Tigard High School.

“That was really good,” said Tigard sophomore post Keishon Dawkins, who led all scorers with 21 points in the victory. “This was an important game for us. We wanted to come out with a lot of energy.”

“It was mostly pretty good,” Tigard junior point guard Luke Smith said. “The flow was nice. We came out strong for the first game. Everyone showed up.”

The Tigers, who have just one senior on the roster, are hoping the impressive opening-game performance is a good sign for the rest of the season. But, they say, no matter what, they're going to have fun and work hard.

DAN BROOD  - Tigard junior guard Luke Smith (right) looks to move the ball up court during the Tigers' win over Sprague at the Cody Hardin Invitational.“I really like this group. I love their energy,” Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said. “They compete hard and have fun doing it. They all play super hard — you can't ask for more than that. We haven't had a bad practice yet.”

“I've never been on a team this close,” Smith said. “We're all family. We hang out, on and off the court.”

“In practice, we all go as hard as we can,” Dawkins said. “I think we'll do good this year.”

The Tigers certainly seemed to do very well in their opening contest of the season.

Tigard, which never trailed in the contest, sprinted out to a 16-2 lead to start things off.

Sophomore wing Jake Estep scored seven points during the scoring spree, including five straight at one point. Dawkins then scored five straight points, and Smith followed with a basket on a drive to the hoop, capping off a 12-0 run and giving Tigard the 16-2 advantage with 1 minute and 52 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

DAN BROOD - Tigard High School sophomore post Austin Dufort (right) goes up strong to the basket during the fourth quarter of Friday's game. The Tigers rolled to a win over Sprague at the Cody Hardin Invitational. Sprague sophomore Teagan Quitoriano ended the Tigers' scoring streak with a three-point play. But Tigard answered that, with junior Daniel Jones drilling a three-pointer from the left corner, giving the Tigers a 19-5 lead at the end of the opening period.

The Tigers kept rolling in the second quarter. Smith sank a three-pointer and scored seven points in the period, in addition to dishing off a pair of assists. Estep added a couple of three-point buckets in the quarter, helping the Tigers push their lead to 36-18 at halftime.

Dawkins then took over in the third quarter.

The 6-foot-5 sophomore scored eight points in the period, sinking four of his six shots from the field, while also pulling down five rebounds. Jones sank another three-pointer, upping the Tigard lead to 51-26 going into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers kept their intensity up in the final stanza. Smith sank his second three-pointer of the game, giving Tigard its biggest lead of the contest, at 60-32, with 4:57 remaining to play.DAN BROOD - Tigard sophmore Jake Estep soars to the basket during the team's win over Sprague.

From there, the Tigers got a 10-foot jumper by Jones and a three-pointer by Dawkins to cap off the 65-40 victory.

“This was very important to us,” Smith said. “It's our tournament, and we like to represent and pay our respects to (former Tigard player) Cody (Hardin).”

“We can take care of business,” Dawkins said. “And we're a fun group.”

“We have no superstars,” Smith said. “We all have to play our roles well. And our practices are crazy. It's the most intense practices we've had in the three years I've been here.”

Dawkins scored his game-high 21 points on a 9-for-11 shooting night from the field. He also pulled down eight rebounds.

“I'm feeling good,” he said with a smile. “I worked hard in the offseason.”

Estep sank a trio of three-point baskets on his way to scoring 13 points. Smith had 12 points to go with five assists and three rebounds.

Jones had eight points, four rebounds and a pair of steals. Sophomore Austin Dufort scored seven points, six coming in the second half, and senior post Andrew Dufort had five rebounds.

Tigard, as a team, sank 24 of 50 shots from the field and nine of 11 free-throw attempts. The Tigers also outrebounded Sprague by a 33-18 margin.

Quitoriano led the Olympians with 13 points. Sophomore Tyler Miller added 11 points.

Sprague made 14 of 38 shots from the field and nine of 15 free-throw attempts.

Tigard, on Saturday scored a 62-46 win over Westview in the tournament championship contest.

On Tuesday, the Tigers 59-51 to Oregon City in a non-league game played at Tigard High School.

Tigard was slated to host Roosevelt in a non-league game on Wednesday. Results of that game weren't available when the Times went to press.

The Tigers will be back in action Friday, when they travel to Franklin for a non-league game starting at 7:30 p.m. On Tuesday, Tigard will host Clackamas in a non-league tilt starting at 6:45 p.m.

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