Tigard boys tip Tualatin in intense rivalry battle
TIGARD — The action fast and furious.
The intensity was at a high level.
The crowd was big, and definitely loud.
And it was a battle from start to finish.
In other words, it was a typical Tigard-Tualatin boys basketball rivalry game.
And, on Friday, capped it all off with a hard-fought victory.
Tigard, with a very impressive performance on the offensive end of the court — and the Tigers needed every bit of that — came away with a 75-72 victory over the Timberwolves in a Three Rivers League contest played at Tualatin High School.
"It's really big. Tualatin is our rival school, and it's always a fun game, and there's always a lot of energy when we play these guys," said Tigard senior Stevie Schlabach, who scored a game-high 33 points in the win. "We were definitely fired up for this. It's obviously a big game, and it's a good win to beat them here at Tualatin."
"It's a big deal," said Tigard sophomore Drew Carter, who added 21 points. "They're our rivals, so it's always going to be a big game, especially with a big, hostile crowd. It was a lot of fun and a big team win."
"It was definitely a battle, and definitely the most people that have been at one of our games all season," said Tualatin senior Jack Rose, who paced the Timberwolves with 18 points. "Everyone was fired up. This game was a blast, honestly. The Tigard guys, they have a lot of class."
With the win, Tigard improved to 4-1 in TRL play (11-6 overall), putting the Tigers in a tie with Oregon City for second place in the league standings, one game behind first-place Lake Oswego.
"This league is one of the toughest leagues in Oregon, so this was a really good win," Schlabach said.
Tualatin moved to 1-4 in TRL games (9-7 overall), putting the Wolves in fifth place in the league standings. Three of Tualatin's league losses (to West Linn, Oregon City and Tigard) have come by a total margin of six points.
"This shows that these games that we've lose by one possession, we can turn that around in the second round of league," Rose said. "We're just getting better every game."
And Friday's game was a battle right from the start.
Tigard, following a steal and layup by senior Jake Bullard and a free throw by senior Diego Lopez, took an 11-8 lead with 1 minute and 23 seconds left to play in a back-and-forth first quarter.
Tualatin answered with a bank shot by junior John Miller and a 3-pointer by senior Caden Dickson to grab a 13-11 lead with 41 seconds left in the period. Schlabach then sank a 14-foot jumper with three seconds on the clock, tying the game at 13-13 going into the second quarter.
Tigard, with Carter and Schlabach each scoring six points, and with senior Jazz Ross sinking a 3-pointer off an assist by Bullard, opened a 29-23 lead with 1:29 remaining in the second quarter.
But the Wolves, with Rose connecting on a pair of 3-pointers in the final 1:16 of the period, were able to trim the Tiger lead to 33-29 at halftime.
Tigard then tried to pull away in the third quarter. Carter scored seven points in the first 2:20 of the period, including a 3-pointer that gave the Tigers a 42-33 lead.
Later in the quarter, Schlabach converted back-to-back 3-point plays, upping the margin to 50-39 with 1:00 left in the period.
Tualatin got a 3-pointer by Dickson to get the lead back down to single digits, but Tigard answered with a 3-pointer by senior Luke Ness, coming with just three seconds left on the clock, giving the Tigers a 53-42 advantage going into the fourth quarter.
But the Wolves weren't about to go down without a fight. Tualatin senior Bridger Steppe, playing strong in the low post, sank three turnaround jumpers to help the Wolves close the gap to 67-60 with 1:22 left in the game. Tualatin got even closer, at 69-63, when Dickson sank a 3-pointer from the right corner, coming off a pass from senior Derek Leneve, with 42 seconds left to play.
A pair of baskets by Rose and a 3-point play by Miller cut the Tigard lead to 73-70 with 10.9 seconds remaining.
Carter was fouled with 7.8 seconds left to play, and he calmly sank both of his ensuing free throws to give Tigard a 75-70 lead. A follow-up back by Rose, coming with one second remaining, made the final score 75-72.
"Just outworking them, from start to finish," Schlabach said of the key to victory. "They were a little hot at the beginning of the game, but we tightened things up during halftime."
"We outworked them, played good defense and boxed out. It was a good team win," Carter said. "The atmosphere in these games just makes it more fun. Both teams were definitely fired up for this one, a rival game, and it always will be big."
Schlabach shot at an amazing 13-of 14 clip from the field on his way to scoring his 33 points. He also had five rebounds.
"Last year, we came here and we lost a tough one, so I didn't want to let that happen again," he said with a smile.
Carter scored his 21 points on a 7-for-13 shooting night. He also had five rebounds.
"Drew definitely stepped up," Schlabach said. "We hit free throws at the end of the fourth quarter, Jazz and Jake, and that all really mattered."
Lopez and Ross each scored eight points for the Tigers. Ness had three and Bullard two.
Tigard, as a team, made 27 of 42 shots from the field, with three 3-pointers, and 18 of 23 free-throw attempts. The Tigers also has just 10 turnovers.
Rose's 18 points, which included 10 in the fourth quarter, led a balanced Tualatin scoring attack. Steppe, making eight of 13 shots from the field, scored 17 points, while also pulling down six rebounds. Dickson sank three 3-pointers and scored 16 points. Miller had nine points, five rebounds and two blocked shots. Junior Sam Noland added eight points.
Tualatin, as a team, made 29 of 62 shots from the field, with seven 3-pointers, and seven of eight free-throw attempts. The Wolves also showed how explosive they can be in the fourth quarter, when they scored 30 points on 13-for-17 shooting.
"There was a lot of adrenaline. We had to game plan for these guys, because they're really athletic," Rose said. "We knew we had to crash the boards hard and get to the basket. We're playing a lot better as a team now. We're shooting a lot better and we're locking up better."
Both teams will be back in action in league play on Tuesday. Tualatin will play at Lakeridge at 7 p.m. and Tigard will travel to Oregon City for a 7:15 p.m. contest.
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