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Hot-shooting Apollos grab tourney bid


Sunset sinks 13 three-pointers in playoff victory

by: DAN BROOD - TOURNEY-BOUND - Sunset's (from left) Tyler Gutierrez, Adam Mead, Michael Kerns, Taylor Harris, Willy Pflug and Daniel Duitsman celebrate their team's Friday-night home win over Tualatin.

CEDAR MILL — They were hot.

No, they were red hot.

No, they were even hotter than that. The Sunset Apollos were white hot and blistering.

And now, the Sunset boys basketball team will take its hot hand to the Rose Garden.

The Apollos earned a bid to the Class 6A state tournament by scorching the nets in a 98-82 win over Tualatin in a Class 6A state playoff second-round game on Friday at Sunset High School.

“This is huge,” said Sunset junior center Tyler Gutierrez, who scored a team-high 20 points in the victory. “We’ve had our sights set on the Rose Garden. Now we’re there. It’s up and away from here.”

“Man, this is really exciting,” Sunset senior guard Joe McFerrin III said. “We went there my freshman year and it was a great experience. I feel lucky to be going back as a senior.”

Tualatin, the No. 3 team out of the Pacific Conference, finished its season at 16-9. Sunset, which tied for the No. 4 spot in the Metro League, improved to 16-10 with the win.

The Apollos opened the 6A state tournament at the Rose Garden yesterday (Wednesday) after the Valley Times’ press deadline with a quarterfinal contest against Metro League foe Jesuit.

“This is really special for us,” Sunset senior guard Daniel Duitsman said. “It’s been our goal since the beginning of the season. We were struggling midway through the Metro League season, but we toughened up and got ready for the playoffs.

The Apollos certainly seemed ready for Friday’s game with the up-tempo Timberwolves — especially on the offensive end of the court.

“We played their game,” McFerrin said. “And it came out well.”

Did it ever.

Sunset’s offensive fireworks show started late in the first quarter, with Duitsman ignited things with back-to-back three-point baskets that turned a 17-15 deficit into a 21-17 lead with 1 minute and 14 seconds left in the opening period.

“After I hit that first one, I felt it,” said Duitsman, who had four of Sunset’s 11 first-half “threes.”

Gutierrez had a follow-up basket with five seconds left in the period to give the Apollos a 23-19 lead, and that’s where they really caught fire.

Tualatin opened the period with a basket on a drive by senior Randall Tainer. Duitsman answered that by again sinking back-to-back three-pointers, both from the left corner off assists by McFerrin for a 29-21 lead with 6:57 left in the half.

Tualatin came back to cut the margin to 31-28 on a jump shot by senior C.J. Michael, but the Apollos took off again. Gutierrez scored on a layup, sophomore Willy Pflug had a pair of three-pointers and McFerrin added a three-pointer of his own to make it 42-30 with 4:13 left in the half.

Then, the Apollos got even hotter.

Sunset scored 21 points in the final 3:10 of the second quarter, getting eight points from senior center Adam Mead, two three-pointers by McFerrin and another “three” from senior Jonathan Willies, a scoring spree that left Sunset with a 63-42 halftime lead.

In the first half, the Apollos made 26-of-34 shots from the field with 11 three-pointers. In the second quarter alone, they hit 16-of-21 from the field with eight three-pointers.

“We caught fire,” McFerrin said. “It was contagious. We didn’t miss. I think everyone made their shots in the second quarter.”

“It was great,” Gutierrez said. “We were shooting the lights out. We were just clicking.”

Gutierrez powered his way to eight points in the third quarter, and McFerrin and Willes each added a three-pointer to help Sunset take an 86-65 lead into the fourth.

Tualatin, behind Connor Scott, tried to make a run in the fourth, trimmed the lead to 92-78 on a pair of free throws by Scott with 2:50 left in the game. But Sunset junior Taylor Harris and Mead each went 2-for-2 from the foul line down the stretch to help the Apollos wrap up the 98-82 victory.

“That was really fun,” Duitsman said. “Since Tyler’s first dunk of the game, it was electrifying.”

“It was great,” Gutierrez said. “One person started hitting, then we all did. And we played with a lot of energy.”

Gutierrez, who had a pair of thunderous first-quarter dunks, scored his team-high 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting and also had six rebounds.

McFerrin scored 19 points. Duitsman had 12 points with four three-pointers, Harris had 11 points and Mead reached double figures with 10 points.

Sunset, as a team, made 38-of-63 shots from the field with 13 three-pointers. The Apollos also outrebounded Tualatin 42-23.

Scott led all scorers with 31 points and Michael added 21 for the Timberwolves.