The North Marion boys basketball team secured its return trip to the 4A State Quarterfinal tournament in Forest Grove behind the steady, high-octane offense that has been the cornerstone to the team's success thus far this season.
Led by 36 points from senior Sergio Jimenez, the No. 3 Huskies erupted for 53 points in the second half to pull away from the visiting North Valley Mustangs for an 85-73 victory Saturday evening at North Marion High School.
It was the fourth time this season the Huskies (20-5) have eclipsed the 80-point mark and the 14th time they've topped 70 points. Both senior Brady Hansen and junior Tanner Saucedo reached double figures in the win with 17 and 11 points, respectively.
North Marion needed every point on Saturday as they attempted to fend off a North Valley team (14-10) looking for an upset bid after leading 33-32 at halftime.
But Jimenez, who already had 16 points at halftime, lifted the Huskies on his shoulders coming out in the third quarter, scoring 12 points, including a pair of 3-pointers.
North Marion's defense matched the senior's effort, holding the Mustangs to just 11 points in the period as the Huskies took a 56-44 lead heading into the final eight minutes.
From there, the game became a back-and-forth as Hidden Valley attempted to keep their season alive through a valiant offensive effort while North Marion fought back the tide at the free throw line.
The Mustangs' Matthew Iwamizu scored 14 of his team-high 21 points in the quarter, while Jimenez, Hansen and Saucedo combined to go 18-of-26 from the charity stripe.In total, the Huskies were 23-of-38 from the line in the fourth quarter, scoring all but four of their points on foul shots. In the end, the two teams matched each other with 29 points each in the period as North Marion hung on for the victory.
Senior Johnny Page added nine points in the win, while junior Jeremiah Noga matched Iwamizu with 21 points for Hidden Valley.
North Marion enters the double-elimination quarterfinal tournament for the second consecutive year after placing fourth overall in last year's bracket. The Huskies boast the state's top-ranked overall offense at the 4A level, having scored 1,706 points in 25 games. No other team in the state has reached even 1,600 points, with the state's No. 2-ranked offense from Gladstone at 1,552.
North Marion also leads 4A teams in points per game at 68.24, followed by Seaside (63.08), Gladstone (62.08) and Marshfield (60.56) as the only programs topping 60 points per game.
The Huskies open the quarterfinal tournament against the 6-seed Woodburn Bulldogs (18-7), who outlasted the Marshfield Pirates (16-9) in a 67-63 overtime victory Friday to reach Forest Grove.
Woodburn beat North Marion 73-66 to open the season.
The two teams tip off 8:15 p.m. Thursday at Forest Grove High School's Joe Moran Court. The winner will advance to the state semifinals to face either 2-seed Philomath (20-4) or 7-seed Klamath Union (18-7) Friday.
4A BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS — FIRST ROUND
Saturday, March 7 at North Marion High School
NORTH MARION 16 16 24 29 — 85
HIDDEN VALLEY 18 15 11 29 — 73
North Marion — Jimenez 36, Hansen 17, Saucedo 11, J. Page 9, Meyers 6, D. Page 4, Wilson 2
Hidden Valley — M. Iwamizu 21, Noga 21, Burchfield 8, Byrd 8, Matusik 7, Tanner 6, Decker 2
North Marion — Jimenez 5, Meyers 1, Hansen 1
Hidden Valley — M. Iwamizu 3, Noga 1, Matusik 1
North Marion — 32/49
Hidden Valley — 12/21
4A BOYS BASKETBALL LEADING SCORERS
North Marion - 68.24
Seaside - 63.08
Gladstone - 62.08
Marshfield - 60.56
Hidden Valley - 58.80
Marist - 58.12
Klamath Union - 57.12
Stayton - 56.68
Banks - 56.40
Baker - 56.34
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.