It was intense — very intense.
It certainly was a battle — a back-and-forth battle at that.
Even though it was just a December non-league game, both teams seemed to really want it.
And Beaverton got it.
The Beavers, regaining the lead for the very last time in the final minute of play, came away with a 55-52 win over Tualatin in a hard-fought non-league boys basketball contest played Friday at Beaverton High School.
"I thought it was pretty good. We executed our game plan, and we came out and made plays down the stretch and got the win," said Beaverton junior post Dane Erikstrup, who scored a team-high 17 points. "It was pretty intense, especially in the fourth quarter. In the last two minutes, they got the lead, we just had to call a timeout and compose ourselves. It was a good game."
"We played well as a team, just some tough calls," said Tualatin sophomore post Peter Burke, who led the Timberwolves with 17 points. "We made our shots and played well, but the defense wasn't there at times. That definitely hurt us."
With the win, Beaverton, out of the Metro League, improved to 6-2 on the season.
"We were trying to hold them to under 49 (points), and we almost had it," Erikstrup said. "We were just trying to execute our plays, and out-execute them, and, down the stretch, we did. We just have to make a few more free throws, and it wouldn't have been such a close game."
Tualatin, out of the Three Rivers League, moved to 4-4 on the season with the setback.
"We swung the ball well, and we were talking. We hit most of our shots, and got good looks, but we just came up short," Burke said. "It was tough. It was a physical match. They've got some big dudes. It was tough down low. They're a scrappy team, and it was a loud crowd."
The intense battle started right from the opening tipoff. Beaverton took a quick 3-0 lead on a 3-point basket by senior Cody Davidson, but Tualatin came right back, getting a layup by Burke and a dunk by senior John Miller, following a steal by sophomore Noah Ogoli, to take a 4-3 lead with 6 minutes and 21 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
Beaverton, getting a pair of baskets from senior Trent Walker and a 3-pointer from sophomore Trevon Hamilton, would go on to claim a 14-10 lead with 46 seconds left in the opening period. But Tualatin, with Ogoli sinking a 3-pointer off an assist from senior Sam Noland, trimmed the Beaver lead to 14-13 going into the second quarter.
That's where Beaverton tried to take control. The 6-foot-9 Erikstrup scored five points in a span of 2:23, and senior Steve Sloop sank a 3-pointer from the right corner, coming off a pass from Erikstrup, to give the Beavers a 26-18 advantage — the biggest lead either team would have in the game — with 2:53 left before halftime.
But the Wolves came fighting back. Tualatin sophomore Malik Ross converted a 3-point play following a steal, Burke added a pair of free throws, and then Burke scored on a layup, off a pass from Ross, to help Tualatin cut the margin to 29-25 at halftime.
Tualatin came out on fire to start the third quarter. Burke sank a pair of free throws, Miller scored on a short-range bank shot, Ogoli came up with a steal and layup and Burke made another free throw, following a steal by Ross, to give the Timberwolves a 32-29 lead with 5:32 left in the period.
Now, it was Beaverton's turn to battle back. Davidson sank a 3-pointer and scored on a layup off an assist from Walker, and Erikstrup added three points to help the Beavers rally for a 41-38 lead going into the fourth quarter.
That's where things really got intense.
The Beavers took a 48-42 lead after Davidson went 2 for 2 from the free-throw line with 4:21 left to play. The home then would then go up 51-46 after junior Finn Barkenaes converted a 3-point play with 2:39 remaining.
But the persistent Wolves battled back again. Ross scored on a drive to the basket, and then he came up with another steal and layup, making the score 51-50 with 1:57 left to play. Then, after a pair of missed free throws by the Beavers, Miller sank a 14-foot jumper, coming off a pass from Noland, giving Tualatin a 52-51 lead with 1:04 remaining.
Beaverton regained the lead, at 53-52, when Erikstrup went 2 for 2 from the foul line with 51.2 seconds left to play. Then, after Walker drew a charging call on the Wolves with 20.1 seconds remaining, Erikstrup was fouled again, and, once again, he sank both of his free throws tup make the score 55-52 with 19.5 seconds remaining.
"I just made them," Erikstrup said of his four clutch free throws. "I've been practicing, but I did miss two. You always think back on the ones you miss."
A last-second, potential game-tying 3-point attempt by the Wolves hit the front rim, leaving Beaverton with the 55-52 victory.
"This was pretty fun," Erikstrup said. "It's a great win, and Tualatin's a good team. They beat us last year."
In addition to Erikstrup's 17 points, the Beavers got 12 points from Davidson, 10 from Walker and five points each from senior Tyler Baltus and Hamilton.
Beaverton, as a team, made 19 of 34 shots from the field, with five 3-pointers, and 12 of 19 free-throw attempts.
"We just can't turn the ball over so much, like we did the first five minutes of the third quarter," Erikstrup said. "We have to improve on that."
Burke scored 10 of his team-high 17 points for the Wolves in the first half.
"My shot was feeling well, I was hitting it," he said.
Miller added 14 points and eight rebounds. Ross had 13 points and three steals. Ogoli scored five points and senior Bret Robert had three.
Tualatin, as a team, made 20 of 44 shots from the field, with two 3-pointers, and 10 of 11 free-throw attempts.
"For sure, this will help us down the road," Burke said of Friday's battle. "We have to play better as a team, play better defense, keep finishing, play smart on offense and make our shots."
Both teams will be back in action on Saturday. Beaverton will travel to McMinnville and Tualatin will play at Mountainside in non-league games starting at 7 p.m.
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