Tigers win the battle with Tualatin
TIGARD — A battle from start to finish.
Strong, spirited play.
Lead changes and momentum swings.
A large, loud crowd watching the feverish action.
In other words, it was a typical Tigard-Tualatin high school boys basketball game.
With what looked to be an inspired effort, the Tigers handed the rival Timberwolves their first league loss of the season, battling their way to a 65-62 victory in a Three Rivers League game played Jan. 17 in front of a boisterous crowd at Tigard High School.
"That was great," Tigard senior wing Jake Leavitt said after the game. "It was the most fun I've ever had. It was crazy, and a good game."
"Oh, it's really big," said Tigard junior wing Stevie Schlabach, who scored a team-high 24 points in the contest. "They were No. 4 (in the Class 6A coaches poll). That motivated us — and it's Tualatin."
"That was pretty intense," Tigard junior point guard Jake Bullard said. "It was a big crowd, and it's a rivalry. It was kind of personal."
With the win, Tigard improved to 4-1 in TRL games (8-6 overall) at that point, putting the Tigers in a tie with Lake Oswego, Tualatin and West Linn for first place in the league standings.
"We needed to win tonight," Schlabach said. "They're all good teams in this league."
"This league is really fun," Bullard said.
The Timberwolves moved to 12-3 on the season, to that point, with the setback.
"We played well, but we didn't execute as well as they did," Tualatin junior wing Jack Rose said. "It was a competitive environment. We all wanted it. It's a battle in this league. You have to be competitive every game."
The Tigers, playing in front of a raucous home crowd, got off to a fast start to the rivalry game. Schlabach sank a pair of three-point baskets, freshman Drew Carter added a three-pointer, off an assist from Bullard, and senior post Austin Dufort added a short-range banker to help Tigard claim a 20-7 lead with 1 minute and 44 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
Tualatin, getting five points from senior guard Alexis Angeles, and a layup by Rose, in the final 1:44 of the opening period, trimmed the Tigard lead to 22-14 going into the second quarter.
The Tiger lead was at 26-20 after Leavitt sank a pair of free throws with 5:38 remaining before halftime, but that's when Tualatin caught fire.
The Wolves, with leading scorer Angeles on the bench due to foul trouble, got back-to-back three-pointers from sophomore guard Derek Leneve and junior wing Caden Dickson to tie the game, at 26-26, with 3:33 left in the quarter.
The Tigers answered back, getting four straight points from Dufort, to regain the lead at 30-26, with 1:48 remaining in the period.
But the Wolves, and Leneve, came back in the big way. The sophomore sank a pair of three-pointers, and then came up with a steal and layup with 0:16 left in the quarter, giving Tualatin a 34-32 advantage at halftime — while also setting up a dramatic second half.
Tigard quickly regained the lead in the third quarter, as Dufort sank a three-pointer from the top of the circle just 30 seconds into the period, making the score 36-35. Tualatin wasted little time taking the lead back, as senior post Chris Freese scored on a follow-up shot 14 seconds later.
The Wolves would keep the lead until Bullard drained a three-pointer from the top of the arc, giving Tigard a 47-45 advantage with 3:28 remaining in the third quarter. Tiger sophomore guard Max Lenzy and Carter scored back-to-back baskets to end the period, giving the home team a 51-47 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Things then stayed close during the final stanza.
The Tigers opened a 55-49 lead after Schlabach scored on a follow-up shot with 5:42 left in the contest. But the determined Timberwolves would fight back to tie the game, at 58-58, after Angeles scored on a layup, following a steal by Rose, with 2:47 left to play in the game.
Tigard quickly regained the lead, at 61-58, when Schlabach converted a three-point play, as he was fouled while scoring on a baseline drive with 2:31 remaining. A follow-up basket by Freese got the Wolves back within one with 2:03 left in the game. But Tualatin wouldn't be able to claim the lead.
Schlabach sank a baseline jumper with 0:53 left to play, making the score 63-60 for the Tigers. Then, after a Tualatin miss on a three-point attempt, Schlabach went 2 for 2 from the free-throw line, giving Tigard a 65-60 advantage with 9.7 seconds remaining.
A last-second follow basket by Tualatin sophomore John Miller made the final score 65-62.
"That was a good team win. We came to play," Leavitt said. "It was really fun. It was up there with the football game (against Tualatin)."
"Our intensity was the key," Schlabach said. "After halftime, we came out more intense."
"We played together, and we played hard all game," Bullard said. "It was just a team effort. We needed everyone."
Schlabach, in addition to his 24 points, also had seven rebounds and a pair of blocked shots in the victory. Dufort added 12 points and four rebounds for the Tigers. Carter had 11 points, five rebounds and two assists. Bullard scored nine points and Leavitt had seven.
Tigard, as a team, made 23 of 47 shots from the field, with six three-point baskets, and 13 of 19 free-throw attempts.
Angeles led all scorers in the contest with 27 points. He also had five rebounds Leneve added 11 points, all coming in the second quarter. Rose scored nine points, Freese had six and Miller scored five.
Tualatin, as a team, made 23 of 49 shots from the field, with six three-point baskets, and 10 of 13 free-throw attempts.
"It was a totally fun atmosphere," Rose said. "Tigard made some big plays. But, we'll get at it, and next time, we'll be ready."
Tigard, on Friday, scored a 52-42 win at Canby. Schlabach scored 22 points in that victory and Dufort added 11.
Tualatin, on Friday, fell 57-49 to Lake Oswego in a game played at Tualatin High School. Angeles scored 24 points for the Wolves in that game, and Miller added 15.
Both local teams will be back in action with league games this Friday. Tigard will play at Lake Oswego at 7 p.m., and Tualatin will host Sherwood at 7:15 p.m. On Tuesday, Tigard will host West Linn and Tualatin will be home to face Lakeridge in TRL games starting at 7 p.m.