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Bulldogs in three-way tie atop Oregon West Conference with Warriors and No. 5 Cascade

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn junior Cole Beyer and the No. 4 Bulldogs held No. 3 Philomath to just 13 points in the second and third periods combined, going on to win 54-44.The Oregon West boys basketball conference is once again looking like a game of rock-paper-scissors.

After Woodburn lost its first conference game of the season 49-47 on Jan. 28 against Cascade, the Bulldogs turned around three days later and handed Philomath its first league loss, 54-44 Friday night.

Halfway into the league schedule, the three teams all sit 3-4-5 in the OSAA rankings and all tied atop the conference standings with identical 5-1 records — each one having won once and lost once to each other.

"I was talking to every coach, and that's what we talk about," Woodburn head coach Raul Veliz said. "There's just no gimmies. I don't think there's a team we look at in our league where we think that's one we're guaranteed to get. Not one."

Woodburn's loss to Cascade earlier in the week put added pressure on the Bulldogs to pull out a win in Friday's contest against Philomath, which entered with a seven-game streak of victories.

The No. 3 Warriors (14-3, 5-1) raced out to a 19-8 lead after the opening quarter of play and was poised to run away with the contest before the No. 4 Bulldogs (13-4, 5-1) caught fire from deep in the second quarter. Jeovanny Marroquin knocked down a triple, and Tomas Veliz connected on three more, helping Woodburn erase their double-digit deficit and pull within 27-26 heading into the halftime break.

"Just getting a little punch brought us back just enough, and that gave everybody life," Coach Veliz said.

But it was the defense that most-impressed the Woodburn coaching staff. After giving up 19 points in the opening quarter, the Bulldogs surrendered eight in the second quarter and just five in the third, changing the tone of the game and giving them a 39-32 edge heading into the fourth quarter.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Jeovanny Marroquin scored six of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and joined with junior teammate Tomas Veliz to knock down five 3-pointers combined against the Warriors.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn senior Reese Miller scored all six of his points in the third quarter for the Bulldogs."The one thing that travels well is defense, and that's traveling with us everywhere we go. And, if we can hang our hat on that each game, hopefully, it'll give us a shot at the end," Veliz said.

Philomath was able to pull within 42-38 with under four minutes left in the game, but Tomas Veliz and Marroquin once again teamed from deep to put the contest away.

Tomas Veliz responded to a bucket from 6-6 freshman Ty May by knocking down a 3-pointer on the other end of the court. Marroquin followed with one of his own on the next possession, giving Woodburn a 10-point cushion.

The Bulldog defense locked down for the remainder of the quarter, while Jonathan Marroquin hit 4-of-6 free throws down the stretch to keep the Warriors at arm's length.

Tomas Veliz finished the game with a team-high 14 points, while Jeovanny Marroquin and Jonathan Marroquin had 13 and 11, respectively.

May led the Warriors with 17 points.

"They're obviously top dog right now, so we had to bring everything we got into this game to give us a chance, and it worked out," Coach Veliz said. "Second half, it was all about the defensive side."

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn head coach Raul Veliz credits the teams defensive prowess with keeping the Bulldogs in contention for the league title this year.Woodburn was scheduled to open the second half of league play this week at home against No. 10 Sweet Home (11-6, 2-4). The Bulldogs then have a week off before facing Sisters (2-16, 0-6) on Feb. 11 in the final game of their four-game homestand.

With five teams in the Oregon West above .500 and boasting 10 or more wins — four of which are ranked in the OSAA top 10 — the Bulldogs are looking to grind out their remaining six regular-season contests and hopefully finish on top.

"It's just, survive," Veliz said. "Do what you can to win and move on to the next one and hopefully you game plan well enough."

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburn junior Tomas Veliz led the Bulldogs with 14 points, nearly all of which came via four 3-pointers he knocked down throughout the course of the game.

WOODBURN 8 18 13 15 — 54

PHILOMATH 19 8 5 12 — 44

Woodburn — Veliz 14, Jeo. Marroquin 13, Jon. Marroquin 11, Nelson 6, Miller 6, Bustamante 4

Philomath — May 17, Lundy 13, Stueve 6, Reams 2, Bennett 2, Hiner 2, Hibbs 2

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