Despite a 1-3 record at the Schwab tourney, the Beavs know they can play
HILLSBORO - The Beaverton boys basketball team may have left the Les Schwab Invitational with a 1-3 record, but it did so knowing it can compete with any team in the state.
The Beavers held strong in their opener in the elite 16-team tournament at Liberty High School, tying South Medford, the top-ranked Class 6A team, with six minutes left. Beaverton lost last Wednesday's game 79-67, but proved itself a formidable foe throughout the tourney.
After forcing No. 5-ranked Central Catholic to go four overtimes to get past them 90-82 Thursday, Beaverton beat Redmond 62-57 Friday and ended with another barn-burner in Saturday's 55-54 loss to Mark Morris, Wash.
'Even though we went 1-3, I think the kids will say it was a good experience,' Beavers coach Jason Maki said. 'Hopefully it helps us in the long run.'
Beaverton trailed South Medford 40-36 at halftime and tied the game in the final quarter. Panther standout Michael Harthun broke out in the second half and finished with 30 points, while teammate E.J. Singler added 25 points to offset a 29-point performance from Beaver senior Ryan Meehan.
'The biggest positive is we feel we can compete with anyone in the state,' Maki said. 'It's just a matter of getting over the hump and winning a few of those games.'
The Beavers nearly did so against Central Catholic. Beaverton fell behind by as many as 11 points, including 50-39 late in the third, but closed within 50-44 when Cam Rier beat the third-quarter buzzer by swishing a three-pointer.
Rier, who had a team-high 19 points and drained 5-of-8 shots behind the arc, hit another 'three' with 6:42 left in regulation to make it 50-49.
The Rams built their lead back to 54-49 and 56-51, but failed to score in the final 4:08 of the fourth.
Beaverton also went scoreless for more than four minutes before Brad Noonan swung the ball to Rier, who swished a three-pointer with 52 seconds left. After Central Catholic missed the front end of a 1-and-1, Rier penetrated and handed the ball to Kevin Macpherson for a layin and a 56-56 tie with 12 seconds left.
'It was good to see us come back and fight and maintain strong energy,' Rier said. 'There was definitely more focus on defense. We had to get stops.'
And Beaverton did time after time. The Rams had the ball at the end in regulation (and the next three OTs) but bumbled through the final 9 seconds against the Beavers' pressure.
'There were so many big moments we succeeded,' Maki said. 'We definitely learned something.'
Junior post Killian Fitzpatrick scored eight of his 14 points in the first two OTs, but the teams remained deadlocked.
'In overtime we had different guys contributing,' Meehan said. 'It's good to see everyone, especially the big guys, come in and help.'
After a steal by Meehan -who played all 48 minutes and had 15 points - Noonan converted a pair of free throws for a 75-75 tie with 7 seconds left in the third overtime.
'Every time we hit a big shot, they came back,' Meehan said. 'It felt like it would never be over.'
The Rams changed that, making 10-of-12 free throws in the fourth OT to pull away.
'We feel like going into the Metro League, we will have seen everything,' Maki said. 'There were all kind of end of game situations.'
Beaverton got more Friday and passed the test, shooting 5-of-9 from the floor and 6-of-8 from the line in the fourth to beat Redmond 62-57.
Trailing 31-24 at halftime, the Beavers opened the second half on a 17-2 run spurred by Rier's three-pointer and Fitzpatrick's three-point play. Jake Krichevsky swished a 'three' and Nate Dufresne worked inside for a bucket and 41-33 lead with 2:35 left in the third quarter.
Redmond recovered, however, and the teams were tied 45-45 heading into the final period where the Beavers went on a 10-0 run for a 57-52 lead with 47 seconds left after holding the Panthers scoreless for more than five minutes.
Meehan, who had a team-high 14 points, sparked the spurt with a 'three' and hit a pair of free throws with 22 seconds left, as did R.J. Liggins with 1 second remaining to clinch the win.
Beaverton finished with a 55-54 loss to Mark Morris in a game Maki said 'felt like a Metro League game. It was back and forth and pretty physical.'
Meehan, who had 12 points, made a shot with 8 seconds left, but the Monarchs were fouled and converted both free throws with 5 seconds remaining for the difference.
Rier led Beaverton with 18 points on 8 of 13 shooting.