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Pioneers handle Hood River, now sizing up South Albany

BOYS BASKETBALL-Sandy will have their hands full with quick pace of the Rebels
by: Kris Anderson Jacob Groom will be one a sharp shooter that Sandy will lean on against South Albany.

As fans filed out of Sandy High School after watching the Pioneers' boys basketball team beat Hood River Valley 85-63 on Friday, one spectator could be heard saying, 'Wait until you see South Albany.'

Yeah, they're something else, all right.

The Pioneers will face a style of play they've never seen before. You think that's a stretch, just ask Gresham's Hunter Busse.

'I've never seen any style like that in all the years I've played basketball. It was really crazy to see,' he said after the Gophers lost 100-97 to South Albany in the opening round of the Sandy Tournament.

Sandy and South Albany will meet on Saturday night, and the winner will take home the tourney's title.

So how do the Rebels play? Their offense is predicated on sprinting for the full 32 minutes - they never take a possession off. When they're running the floor, they'll take the first open shot available. Typically it's a three-pointer, and they have the shooters for that to be an effective strategy.

Against the Gophers, five different players combined to knock down nine threes in the first half. And they have a substitution strategy that allows them to keep that pace going in the second half, as well.

They rotate players like line changes in hockey. Every couple of minutes, they'll substitute four or five players.

'They are plying up the floor,' Sandy coach Jason Maki said. 'It's a different style to play against, so we're going to have to make shots and take care of the ball.'

Facing a team that takes many shots, Maki says that rebounding will be the key, especially rebounding by Sandy's guards. They'll have to limit the Rebels' second chance opportunities because their shooters don't need many chances to make a shot.

South Albany does lack size, so the Pioneers will try to force the ball to their post players like Justin Adams, Brandon Ford and Ryan Cargill.

But until a team has played the Rebels, it's hard to prepare for them.

You just have to wait until you see them play.