After suffering their first loss of the season the week before at North Marion, the Woodburn boys basketball team was eager to get back on the court and take out their frustrations.
Unfortunately for the Blanchet Catholic Cavaliers, they were next on the schedule.
The Bulldogs (9-1) eclipsed 80 points for the fourth time this season, but it was their defense that the team was crowing about after an 88-49 victory over the Cavaliers on Thursday.
"Started off a little slow defensively, but that second half we cinched down and started getting stops defensively," senior guard R.J. Veliz said. "If we can string stops together, we're pretty tough to beat."
Veliz scored a game-high 25 points, 12 of which came in the opening quarter where he connected on three 3-pointers against the program he played for in the first three years of his high school career.
Woodburn opened up with a 25-12 advantage after the first eight minutes and expanded its lead to 44-23 at the half thanks to some hot shooting from Veliz and his teammates.
Senior Ryan Stebner also connected on three triples in the first half, scoring all of his 13 points in the first two quarters of play.
Diego Torres, Trevor Karsseboom and E.J. Barajas each scored from a distance as the Bulldogs hit 14 3-pointers on the day.
It was Woodburn's highest-scoring output of the season and comes on the heels of a 95-82 loss to North Marion the week prior.
While Veliz credits the Huskies for knocking down shots, he felt the Bulldogs could have done more to make it more difficult for North Marion.
"Part of that is that we weren't playing amazing defense," Veliz said. "Giving up 90 points is going to be tough to beat a team any time."
As a result, the Blanchet Cavaliers took the brunt of Woodburn's aggression following their first loss of the season.
Time and time again, Woodburn turned the Cavaliers' turnovers into 3-point attempts. Even in the fourth quarter when the game was well decided, Woodburn's reserves came in and kept the foot on the gas, outscoring the Cavs 22-7 in the final eight minutes.
"We're trying to focus on that more, especially in this game, just trying to focus on our defense," Veliz said. "Defense is going to win games. Defense is going to win championships, so that's what we're trying to go for."
And while the loss stung, Woodburn is content using it as a learning experience and build on it moving forward during the season.
"It's better that we lose now than later, so we're just trying to use that as motivation," Veliz said.
Following the win against Blanchet, the Bulldogs wrapped up their tournament appearance at Stayton with a 41-33 win over Valley Catholic (9-4).
The Bulldogs return to action in 2019 with a home game Friday against No. 4 Sweet Home (11-1) in the Oregon West Conference opener for both teams.
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