North Marion boys take sole possession of Tri-Valley lead
The play North Marion wanted coming out of the timeout with 32 seconds left wasn't there, so Tanner Saucedo decided to improvise.
Saucedo plowed through a crease in Gladstone's defense and banked in a floater from the middle of the lane as time expired, lifting the No. 1 Huskies to a 48-46 Tri-Valley Conference home win Friday over the Gladiators.
After Gladstone's Thomas Tacha hit one of two free throws to tie the score at 46-46 with 37 seconds to play, North Marion pushed the ball into the frontcourt and called its final timeout.
The Huskies drew up a play for senior Johnny Page, coming off a Saucedo screen, but Gladstone's defense took that away.
Page got trapped on the right wing with nowhere to go, so he dumped the ball to Brady Hansen, who picked up his dribble high on the right side before flipping the ball to Saucedo with less than 10 seconds remaining.
"I started hearing people counting down, so I just took it, and that was it," Saucedo said. "I saw a hole in the defense, and I just went for it.
"I just floated it up, and when I let it loose, I knew I was going to make it."
Saucedo encountered some traffic in the lane, but the Gladiators didn't want to foul in that situation, so they backed off a smidge, giving the Huskies' junior guard just enough room to elevate in the lane.
"We were man-to-man, and we wanted to make sure we contained people, keeping everything in front," Gladiators coach Cody Aker said. "We played pretty good defense for 29 of those 32 seconds.
"We get a guy (Hansen) on the sideline, and he throws kind of a rescue pass out the top. We lunged for it, but Tanner goes and gets it, gets into the lane, and puts a little floater off the backboard, game-winner."
The Huskies (14-3, 4-0 Tri-Valley) extended their winning streak to four games and took over sole possession of first place in the league race, one game ahead of the Gladiators (12-5, 3-1).
Page finished with a team-high 17 points, Sergio Jimenez had 13 points, and Hansen and Saucedo added seven each for the Huskies, who were held to fewer than 50 points for the first time this season.
"This is a big-league win," said Jimenez, the senior guard. "We needed this one. We came out a little slow, but I'm glad we got it.
"The last play was going to be for Johnny, but anyone in this whole group can do it all. I believe in every single one of my teammates, and I knew Tanner could knock that shot down. I know he's like that."
Gladstone came into the game riding a seven-game winning streak and opened a 13-point lead when Sabastian Peiffer converted a lay-up off a North Marion turnover to make it 24-11 with 5:30 to play in the second quarter.
The Gladiators then went scoreless the remainder of the half, going 0 for 9 from the field and 0 for 2 at the free-throw line with four turnovers, while North Marion went on a 12-0 run to pull within a point, 24-23, at the break.
"North Marion was more physical with us," Aker said of the five minutes to close the second quarter. "A lot of the shots that we took were off balance or weren't to the hoop, although we missed some gimmes around the rim, which would have been nice to have had.
"Defensively, North Marion upped their tempo, upped their energy, and they were more physical in getting us off balance and pushing us away from the hoop," Aker said.
Tied at 29-29, North Marion outscored Gladstone 8-4 in the final four minutes of the third quarter to take a 37-33 lead into the fourth.
The Huskies extended the lead to 46-40 when Hansen hit a pair of free throws with 2:52 to play, and then it was Gladstone's turn to crank up the intensity and both ends of the court.
Jeremy De Voe grabbed an offensive rebound for the Gladiators and scored to make it 46-42, and then Tacha followed with a 3-pointer from the right corner that cut the deficit to one, 46-45, with 1:47 left.
North Marion had opportunities to add to the lead at the foul line, but David Page missed the front end of a one-and-one situation with 1:46 to play, and Jimenez missed two free throws with 56 seconds remaining.
Tacha then drew a shooting foul with 37 seconds to play and went to the free-throw line with a chance to put Gladstone back in front. He missed the first, then made the second to tie the score, setting the stage for Saucedo's buzzer-beater.
De Voe led all scorers with 18 points for the Gladiators, who got another seven from Peiffer, six from Tacha, and five from Ethan Bulisco.
"We haven't lost in a while, and the guys showed some emotion and were hurt that we didn't take care of business," Aker said. "There's still a lot of business to be taken care of on our end in between now and the next time we face North Marion, but we can't look past anybody in our league.
"It's one of those things, we'd like to have a tiebreaker for first place at the very end, but the reality of it is that it doesn't matter if we don't take care of Molalla on Tuesday."
GLADSTONE 19 5 9 13 — 46
NORTH MARION 11 12 14 11 — 48
Gladstone (46) — Jeremy De Voe 18, Peiffer 7, Tacha 6, Bulisco 5, Wanlass 4, Dewall 3, Ashpole 2, Harman 1, Burlingame.
North Marion (48) — Johnny Page 17, Jiminez 13, Saucedo 7, Hansen 7, N. Wierstra 4, D. Page, H. Wierstra, Wilson, Meyers.
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