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The Bulldogs defeated a gritty Dragons team 52-49, use the grind of the Woodburn Tournament to gain on-court experience.

Woodburn boys basketball continued its winning ways with an impressive victory over the visiting Dallas Dragons on Thursday, Dec. 16. The Bulldogs outlasted a game 5A opponent 52-49 victory to improve to 3-1 on the season.

"They played well," Woodburn boys basketball coach Raul Veliz said after the game. "We're going through a lot of what I would call 'experience pains.' Not necessarily growing pains, but just experience. We have overall a group of about two guys who have a lot of varsity experience and then the rest of the team is kind of just growing and experiencing as we go. So these kinds of wins against a really good team that physically was just beating us up a little bit out there.

"We were struggling a little with that, but I was happy that we at least were able to hold on and do a pretty good job with that."

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Woodburn freshman Cruz Veliz led his team in scoring against the visiting Dallas Dragons.

Woodburn started things off going back and forth with Dallas in the opening quarter, neither team able to put together a string of buckets or attempts from the free throw line. Woodburn junior Spencer Karsseboom was the team's leading scorer in the opening stanza, chipping in five points by the time the first eight minutes had elapsed. Woodburn led 13-9 after the end of the first quarter.

The second quarter saw Dallas come to life offensively, putting together an eight-point run with four points coming from sophomore Coven Rotter-Gale. Dallas wasn't able to keep Woodburn quiet the entire quarter, though, as the Bulldogs found success late to close the gap.

At the break Woodburn trailed Dallas 26-24.

Coming into the third quarter it was all Woodburn. The Bulldogs erupted for a 17-2 run to distance themselves from their 5A counterparts, ultimately ending the third stanza up 41-33. Woodburn freshman Cruz Veliz scored seven points in the third quarter and finished the game with a team-high 16 points.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Woodburn junior Spencer Karsseboom was one of three Bulldogs to score in double digits for the home team against visiting Dallas.

In the fourth quarter Dallas once again clawed its way back into the game with a late run. Woodburn at one point led by as much as 50-39 but the Dragons made things interesting late with another eight-point run to bring the game within three at 50-47. That was as close as the visiting team would get, and the Bulldogs held on to win 52-49.

While Cruz Veliz led the team with 16 points, Karsseboom and fellow junior Antonio Carrasquillo each chipped in 12 points of their own, and senior Tomas Veliz added seven to the overall 52.

Woodburn hosted McKay and The Dalles on Friday, Dec. 17, and Saturday, Dec. 18, respectively. The Bulldogs blew out McKay 59-27 in the second night of three straight game days. The grind of playing games in such short succession was not at all dissimilar to the schedule the team faced during the spring season shortened by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"We were grateful and fortunate that we had a season, but it was basically like what we were doing this week where it was game, game, maybe if you were lucky you had a practice, if not it was every other day you had a game or it was back-to-back," Veliz said. "In the middle of our league in a pretty tough league, we had three games in a row in the middle of the season."

That shortened, condensed schedule kept schools from really building up the skill sets and experience levels of their programs. But the work Veliz and his coaching staff are putting in during a preseason with five games left already appears to be paying off. The Bulldogs are 4-1 thus far and aim to be ready heading into league play against dangerous Oregon West Conference competition.

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