Tualatin shines in second half to top Canby
It's not that the Tualatin High School boys basketball team played a bad first half.
And it's certainly not that Canby was awful in the second half.
But, the Timberwolves' second-half performance was nothing short of being absolutely spectacular — and that made all the difference.
Tualatin, after trailing the Cougars 20-19 at halftime, was near flawless in the final two quarters. The Wolves, shooting at a 17-for-20 clip from the field in the second half, while also coming up with some clutch play on defense, rallied to get a 58-47 win over Canby in a Three Rivers League contest played Tuesday at Tualatin High School.
"Our defensive intensity picked up," said Tualatin senior guard Sam Noland, who scored 15 of his team-high 17 points in the second half. "We got some steals. We played good defense in the first half. They just had these drawn-out possessions and tired us out. But we picked it up in the second half. We got some steals, and, after that happened, they started to feel the pressure, and we got some open looks."
"We just had more energy," Tualatin sophomore guard Noah Ogoli said of the second-half performance. "We came out with more energy and got some stops, which we turned into offense."
With the win, its second straight in league play, Tualatin evened its TRL record at 2-2 (8-8 overall), putting the Wolves in fourth place in the league standings.
"This is a huge win, because we lost our first two games in league, so we needed to get back on track," Ogoli said. "We played as a team tonight."
"It's pretty huge for us, because we were down 0-2 in league right away," Noland said. "To be able to even our record at 2-2 feels pretty good. And Canby is a tough team this year. This year, they're playing well, and we knew it would be a tough game. To come out with a win is pretty huge."
Canby moved to 3-2 in TRL games (9-8 overall) with the setback, putting the Cougars in third place in the league standings.
"We played a pretty solid first half. We were up by one at half," said Canby junior guard Diego Arredondo, who scored 13 points in the contest. "It was the same thing as last game, against West Linn, we were up at half, and came out in the second half, and we were flat. We were missing our big guy, (junior) Ben Bailey. He broke his hand. It definitely hurts us, but we know what we need to work on, what we need to fix."
The Cougars, being patient — very patient — on the offensive end of the court, controlled play throughout most of the first quarter of Tuesday's game. Canby junior Aftanom Ovchinnikoff scored six points, and Arredondo added four in the opening period, which ended with the Cougars holding a 10-8 lead.
Arredondo then sank back-to-back jumpers early in the second quarter, giving Canby a 14-10 lead with 6 minutes and 44 seconds left in the period. But Tualatin came fighting back. Ogoli sank a 3-pointer, coming off a pass from sophomore Peter Burke and then, following a put-back hoop by Canby junior Riley Knutson, the Wolves got a dunk by senior John Miller and a basket on a drive by Noland, giving the home team a 17-16 advantage with 3:19 left before halftime.
But Ovchinnikoff scored twice in the final 1:18 of the period, including a short-range banker with 3 seconds left on the clock, giving the Cougars a 20-19 lead at the break.
"We were really patient," Arredondo said. "There were some times where we'd hold the ball for up to two minutes. We wouldn't rush, and we'd get a good shot. If we score on those, it's really demoralizing for the other team."
Ovchinnikoff scored on a drive to the basket, and Arredondo connected on a 3-pointer to up the Canby lead to 25-21 with 6:31 left to play in the third quarter. But that's when Tualatin took over.
The Wolves went on an 8-0 run, which included a short-range banker by Burke, a layup by Noland and back-to-back steals and layups by Ogoli and Noland, giving Tualatin a 29-25 lead with 3:06 left in the period.
From there Noland sank a 3-pointer and scored five points later in the quarter. Miller had a layup following a steal by Noland and sophomore guard Malik Ross scored on a drive to the hoop, helping the Wolves open a 38-32 lead going into the final seconds of the third quarter.
Ogoli then capped off the period in a really big way, sinking a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from just inside the mid-court stripe, giving the Wolves a 41-34 lead going into the fourth quarter.
"It felt great," Ogoli said with a smile. "No, I didn't know it was going in, but it felt really good."
The Wolves kept rolling in the final stanza. Tualatin junior Jackson Passaglia opened the fourth quarter with a 3-point basket from the left corner, coming off a pass from Miller, and then Miller and junior Logan Shaw scored back-to-back baskets, both coming off assists from Ogoli, upping the Wolves' lead to 48-34 with 5:37 left to play in the game.
Canby cut the margin to 52-44 on a layup by junior Tyler Mead, coming with 2:01 remaining in the contest. But Tualatin, getting a basket on a baseline drive by Noland, a pair of free throws by Burke and a layup by Ross, was able to close out the 58-47 victory — it's second in a row.
"With a team like us, if we're winning, we're going to keep going," Noland said. "We're going to be excited. Just like any other team, we're not that happy when we lose, but, when we're winning, it's a whole different attitude. Everyone is excited to play, and everyone is excited to practice."
Noland made all seven of his shots from the field in the second half. He also had three steals in the contest. Miller added 12 points for the Wolves. Ogoli had eight points and three assists. Burke scored seven points. Senior Jeremy Lund, Passaglia and Ross had four apiece.
Tualatin, as a team, made 25 of 39 shots from the field for the game, with four 3-pointers, and four of seven free-throw attempts.
"We just stuck to our game plan and communicated," Ogoli said.
Ovchinnikoff led all scorers in the contest with 18 points. Arredondo added 13 for the Cougars, and junior Riley Knutson scored 11.
Canby, as a team, made 21 of 44 shots from the field, with three 3-pointers, and two of four free-throw attempts.
"He (Bailey) is a very good defender, and very vocal, so, right now, our defense is weaker," Arredondo said. "In practice the next two days, that's what we're going to emphasize, and we're going to come out stronger."
Both teams will be back in action on Friday. Canby will play at Lake Oswego in a league game starting at 7 p.m. Tualatin will face rival Tigard in a league contest starting at 7:15 p.m. at Tigard High School.
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