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Beavers erupt in second half, blow out Warriors

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Beaverton goes on 15-0 run in fourth to seize control


TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton;s Beau Sheeran and Niko Bevens try to block Aloha's Marc Tshala's shot at the rim in the first quarter of the Beavers win over Aloha on Friday.

It's been 16 years since the Beaverton boys basketball team last draped a Metro League Championship banner high above the rafters in its home gym.

Cole Johanson, Nolan Bertain, Hunter Sweet and the rest of the Beavers' junior-laden core were a mere year old and their head coach Andrew Vancil was in seventh grade.

The hiatus has been seemingly endless with a lot of heartache along the way. But, if the Beavers keep playing the way they are now blowing apart teams with direct defense, balanced scoring and a self-sacrificing brand of basketball that breeds camaraderie and team connection, it won't be long before Beaverton is back atop Metro and the drought is awashed in rainmaking threes and extra passes.

Leading Aloha 46-37 late in the third quarter after letting a 16-point halftime lead slip a bit, Beaverton went on a 15-0 run that began with 1:30 left in the third and stretched into the fourth quarter. By the time Nolan Bertain, Carson Crawford, Hunter Sweet and Cole Johanson had finished laying into the Warriors, Beaverton (8-3, 1-0) was comfortably ahead 61-37 on its way to a breezy 73-46 home win over Aloha (4-7, 0-1).

“We're ready for Metro and we showed that tonight,” said Johanson, who had five assists. “The fact that it's been so long (since Beaverton won Metro) is definitely part of the motivation. We want to win one for the school and Metro is wide open this year. We know we can score, but if we play defense, play together and keep up the team chemistry we'll be just fine.”

With Jesuit losing to Sunset and Southridge dropping a last-second decision to Century on the conference's opening night — this after Westview beat three Metro contenders at the Les Schwab Invitational — it's clear Metro is ripe for the picking and parity will be a common theme throughout league play. Beaverton's tantalizing potential and current level of explosiveness certainly seems to bode well moving forward as the conference slate unfolds.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha's Trey Hornbuckle and Beaverton's Hunter Sweet battle for a rebound in the third quarter of the Beavers blowout win on Friday.

“We're all best friends on and off the court,” said Beaverton junior wing Jamie Sweatman, who had a team-high six assists. “This group is by far the best I've ever played with. We like working well with each other. We're having a lot of fun out there.”

Twice Aloha got within single digits in the third quarter when Alton Lovincey's layup brought Aloha within 43-34 and senior guard Marc Tshala polished off an old-fashioned three-point play that made it 46-37. However, Bertain got past the Warrior backline with his blurring first step for a lefty scoop and Sweet banked home his own miss after a memorable tussle with Aloha sophomore Trey Hornbuckle to give Beaverton a 50-37 advantage.

To start the final quarter Crawford came off a flex screen and canned his fourth three of the night, then backup guard stole a loose ball and passed ahead to Bertain who confidently stroked a transition three from the right wing. In 23 quick seconds Beaverton had essentially ripped the game open with back-to-back threes.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior power forward Beau Sheeran powers home a jump hook in the second half of the Beavers victory over Aloha on Friday.

Then, after a Sweet rebound, Bertain loaded up again on the break and canned another triple from the right wing. Johanson's blow-by lefty layup pushed Beaverton's big lead to 61-37.

Johanson credited Aloha for “creeping” back into the contest but gave just due to his Beaver mates for slamming the door shut just when it seemed Beaverton had left it ajar, if only for a moment.

“We decided to blow it open right then,” said Johanson.

On the evening Beaverton made 11 three's, four coming from Crawford. Sweet (12 points), Crawford (12 points), Beau Sheeran (14 points), Bertain (14 points) and Bevens (12 points) formed a formidable inside-outside combustible combination that made Aloha pick its poison.

“When teams focus on our inside game, we can go outside,” said Bevens. “If teams focus on our outside guys, we can go inside. There's a lot of freedom. And, a lot of team chemistry comes from that.”

Sweatman said the game's deciding run was spurred by Beaverton's defensive intensity. Aloha was pesky for four quarters, hanging around with Shane Sullivan carrying the offensive load and its team defense making steals and creating bits of chaos. Sullivan led Aloha with a game-high 20 points. Ethan Channel added eight and Lovincey finished with five.To put the Warriors away, Sweatman and Johanson both agreed, the Beavers had to buckle down on the defensive end and let their transition game detonate accordingly.

“We were chopping the ball really well and just got out and ran,” said Sweatman. “If we really put the effort in on defense, I feel like we can be tough with anybody.”

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Aloha senior power forward Shane Sullivan led the Warriors with a team-high 20 points against Beaverton on Friday.

When Beaverton locks in defensively, as they did against Aloha, few teams can match their offensive firepower on the other side of the floor. Bertain and Bevens made the Warriors pay from the outside combining for seven threes on the evening, many of which came after a missed Aloha shot that allowed Beaverton to sprint the floor on the fast break and put its foot on the proverbial gas.

“We played a really physical game,” said Sweatman. “We got out, pushed the ball and let our shots fall.”

“Defense is our biggest thing we have to have,” added Bevens. “We're all a bunch of offensive players. We're an offense-oriented team, at least that's what a lot of people say. We focus every day on defense, getting stronger, boxing out and rebounding. We're not big, but we're fundamental and that's helping us late in games.”