Boys basketball: Tualatin opens Pacific Conference play by scoring a 52-41 win at Canby
CANBY - It was only one game.
There are plenty more Pacific Conference contests to be played.
But, still, for the Tualatin High School boys basketball team, it was a heck of a nice way to start league play.
The Timberwolves opened their Pacific Conference schedule by notching a 52-41 win over defending league champ Canby in a game played Friday at Canby High School.
'This is a big, big win,' said Tualatin junior Eric Kjemperud, who came off the bench to turn in a strong all-around performance in the victory. 'And we're going to get better.'
Canby, which has won at least a share of the league championship in each of the past four seasons, moved to 5-5 on the season with the setback.
Tualatin, which was playing its first game in three weeks, improved to 6-3 on the season at that point with the victory.
'This was a pretty important game for us,' said Tualatin senior Mick Bies, who was the game's top scorer with 22 points. 'We made a statement for our team tonight.'
That statement may have been that the Wolves are ready to turn up their intensity level this year, especially on the defensive end of the court.
'Defense definitely was the key tonight,' Bies said. 'And it was a total team effort. We went out there and played hard-nosed defense. We had a meeting and we talked about giving it our all - everyone selling out. Since then, our intensity doubled in practice and that carried over to this game.'
Tualatin's intense defensive effort helped hold the talented Cougars to 41 points on an 18-for-49 shooting night.
'We had a good game on defense,' Tualatin coach Rick Osborn said. 'Canby has some good players, but we made them work for it.'
The Wolves, after the three-week layoff, got off to a slow start on offense in Friday's game. They made just two of 12 shots from the field, both baskets being three-pointers by Bies, in the first quarter. But, thanks to their strong defense, they held an 8-6 lead at the end of the period.
Canby, with junior standout Cody Hickey scoring five quick points, grabbed an 11-8 lead early in the second quarter. But Tualatin controlled the rest of the period.
The Wolves got a three-pointer by junior post Brandon Troxel to regain the lead at 14-13 with 5 minutes and 35 seconds left in the second quarter. Tualatin then ended the half with a 9-0 run. The scoring spree included a pair of baskets by Kjemperud and a layup by junior post Taylor Hart off an assist from senior Matt Losli.
Senior guard Jordan Highland capped off the run with a steal followed by a buzzer-beating three-pointer, which gave Tualatin a 25-15 lead at the intermission.
Canby came storming back in the third quarter. The Cougars ended the period on an 8-0 run, cutting the Tualatin lead to 35-32 going into the fourth quarter. But that didn't seem to upset the Wolves.
'We told ourselves not to panic and just keep executing our stuff,' Bies said.
Bies, Highland and Losli started the final stanza with consecutive baskets, quickly upping the margin to 41-32 with 5:42 left to play in the contest.
The Wolves went on to open up a 45-34 lead when Bies scored on an alley-oop layup off an inbounds pass from Troxel with 2:16 left to play in the game.
Canby trimmed the margin to 45-39 with 1:45 remaining, but Tualatin put the game away at the foul line. The Wolves made five foul shots in the final 1:37 of the game to wrap up their 52-41 victory.
'This was my first big game on varsity and it was a lot of fun,' Kjemperud said with a smile. 'Everyone played well tonight. Over the layoff we really found ourselves. And playing in front of the big crowd was amazing. It pumped us up even more.'
Bies made four three-point baskets on his way to scoring 22 points. Highland had nine points to go with seven rebounds. Kjemperud added seven points and Losli and Troxel each scored six points. Troxel also pulled down a team-high 10 rebounds.
Hickey led the Cougars with 15 points and senior Jake Fowler added 10.
Tualatin picked up another league win on Tuesday when it won 70-45 at Forest Grove.
Junior post Anthony Freeman, Jr., led the way for the Wolves in that game with 18 points. Losli added 16.
The Wolves will be back in action Friday when they host Newberg in a league game starting at 7:30 p.m. On Tuesday, Tualatin will be home to face rival Tigard at 7:30 p.m.