Tigard boys battle to the end in tourney loss to Grant
PORTLAND — It's been a special season for the Tigard High School boys basketball team.
So special, in fact, that the Tigers didn't want to see it come to an end.
They battled, and battled, trying to extend it one more day. But all of that heart and determination wasn't quite enough.
Tigard saw its season come to a close with a 65-51 loss to Grant in a Class 6A state tournament fourth-place semifinal game played Thursday at the University of Portland's Chiles Center.
"We're always going to play hard, no matter what," said Tigard senior Stevie Schlabach, who scored a game-high 21 points in the contest. "But they made more shots than we did. They weren't falling for us today."
"We missed a lot of shots," Tigard senior Jazz Ross said. "It was hard."
"What we'll take away from this game is, no matter what the score was, we never stopped competing and we fought to the end," Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said. "That's a testament to who they are, as a group, and the leadership our seniors provided."
With the win, Grant, the Portland Interscholastic League co-champion, and the No. 6 team in the final OSAA power rankings, improved to 22-7 on the season at that point. The Generals also advanced to the state tournament fourth-place game, where it got an 83-78 win over Central Catholic.
Tigard, the No. 2 team out of the Three Rivers League, and the No. 6 team in the power rankings, finished its season with a final overall record of 17-11.
"It was great," Ross said of the season, which saw the Tigers make their first state tournament appearance since 2002. "We really came together as a team this year. We formed a stronger bond. It felt like we were really family, and I feel like we accomplished a lot this season. I don't know if many people expected a lot from us this season, but we played as hard as we could, and we got here."
"We really shocked a lot of people," Schlabach said. "I don't think too many people thought we'd make it here. We just stuck with our team, and we made it, but we didn't finish the way we wanted to."
"How it turned out here doesn't define our season," Alderman said. "This is a wonderful group of kids who worked hard every day. They got to the tourney, and, unfortunately, didn't play our best, but this is a special group. I had a ton of fun coaching them, and I'm very proud of them."
Tigard got off to a strong start to Thursday's tourney contest. Following a 3-point play by Schlabach, and a 3-point basket by sophomore Drew Carter, the Tigers held a 10-7 lead with 2 minutes and 55 seconds left to play in the first quarter. Grant battled back to tie the game at 12-12 at the end of the opening period.
The Generals then opened the second quarter with a 9-2 run, which included a 3-pointer by senior Aiden Martin, giving Grant a 21-14 lead with 5:13 left in the period.
Tigard battled back. Schlabach sank a pair of basket and Carter and senior Diego Lopez each connected on 3-pointers, helping the Tigers trim the margin to 30-24 at halftime.
But Tigard struggled to find its shooting touch early in the third quarter. The Tigers missed their first nine shots from the field in the period. Meanwhile, Grant, getting three baskets by freshman Max von Arx, scored 10 unanswered points to start the quarter, giving the Generals a 40-24 advantage with 5:22 left in the period.
Grant would go on to take a 47-31 lead into the fourth quarter.
But the Tigers weren't about to give up. Lopez scored six points and senior Luke Ness added a pair of free throws, making the score 53-39 with 4:47 left in the game. Schlabach followed that up with a hoop on a 16-foot jumper, and Ross scored on a baseline drive, trimming the margin to 53-43 with 3:21 remaining in the contest.
Tigard, getting baskets from Schlabach, Lopez and junior Steven Long, and a pair of free throws by Carter, kept fighting, but the Tigers couldn't get any closer, as Grant was able to close out a 65-51 victory.
Schlabach scored his game-high 21 points on a 9-for-14 shooting night from the field. He also had eight rebounds and a pair of assists. Lopez had 11 points and 11 rebounds. Carter added 10 points and seven rebounds. Ness scored five points, while Ross and Long each had two. Junior Max Lenzy led the Tigers in assists with three.
Tigard, as a team, made 20 of 61 shots from the field, with three 3-pointers, and eight of 12 free-throw attempts.
Senior Aaron Deloney and junior Emanuel Steward each scored 14 points to lead a balanced Grant scoring attack. Senior Ty Rankin added 13 for the Generals.
Grant, as a team, made 25 of 63 shots from the field, with four 3-pointers, and 11 of 18 free-throw attempts.
The loss marked the final high school game for Tigard seniors Lopez, Ross, Jake Bullard, Schlabach, Kenny Beers, Eric Sawin, Carson Crist, Ness and Peyton Sievke.
"They're unbelievable," Alderman said of the seniors. "They're just wonderful leaders in what a team should be. Every single one of them hang out together. It's a tight-knit group, and that's what makes it special."
"This year was great," Ross said. "We had a goal of getting to the Chiles Center. Obviously, we wanted to do better than what happened here, but we at least wanted to get to the Chiles Center."
"We've played together for so long, so we already had that chemistry, and that helped a lot," Schlabach said. "It was a good season. I think we all had a ton of fun."
Other players for the Tigard team include sophomore Brent Moss, junior Dylan Berg and sophomore Spencer Kuffel.