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Tigers tipped by one in playoff tilt

Boys basketball: South Eugene gets a three-pointer with 7 seconds left to edge Tigard 57-56
by: DAN BROOD, SUPER SMOOTH — Tigard High School senior Kyle Figura (left) glides up to the basket for a layup in the Tigers’ state playoff contest against South Eugene.

TIGARD - Hard work and hustle is usually good enough.

But, sometimes, those elements can by offset by one clutch, long-range, perfect shot.

Unfortunately for the Tigard High School boys basketball team, that turned out to be the case in its playoff game with South Eugene.

Tigard seemed to play its typical all-out, in-your-face type of game in the postseason contest. But the Axemen, getting a clutch three-point basket by senior Danny Brown coming with just 7 seconds left in the game, scored a 57-56 win over the Tigers in a Class 6A state playoff game held March 5 at Tigard High School.

'We played hard for 32 minutes. We have a lot to be proud of,' Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said after the game. 'They just made some big shots. Their kid made a 23-footer with a hand in his face. You have to give them credit.'

South Eugene, the No. 4 team from the Southwest Conference, improved to 13-14 on the season with the victory and advanced to the second round of the state playoffs. The Axemen were edged 67-65 by Metro League champion Sunset in Saturday's second-round contest.

Tigard, the No. 2 team out of the Pacific Conference, finished its season with a final record of 17-8.

'We worked hard all season. That's what we're about - hard work,' said Tigard senior Kyle Figura, who had 14 points and seven rebounds in the playoff contest. 'We really wanted to win, but he (Brown) hit a big shot. We can hold our heads high. We had a great team connection and great chemistry. We really played together as a team. I'm proud of our guys.'

The Tigers got off to a red-hot start in the playoff game.

They shot at an 8-for-13 clip from the field in the first quarter, with five of those baskets coming from three-point range. Figura connected on a pair of three-pointers while sophomore Jalen Caoile, senior Ryan Gorton and senior Derek Alik hit one long-range shot apiece in the opening period, which ended with Tigard holding a 21-13 lead.

The Tigers opened up their biggest lead of the game early in the second quarter, at 26-14, when senior Isaiah Ferrer was good on a three-point basket off an assist from junior Matt Alexander.

But South Eugene, led by senior post John Hayward-Mayhew, came back strong. Hayward-Mayhew, who scored nine points in the quarter, converted a three-point play to tie the game at 28-28 with 1 minute and 38 seconds left in the period.

Gorton quickly gave the lead back to the Tigers when he put in a short-range bank shot off an assist from senior post Spencer Patterson, but South Eugene answered with a pair of free throws by senior Travis Rooke-Ley, sending the teams to halftime tied at 30-30.

Tigard took control again in the third quarter. Figura buried a three-pointer off a pass from Gorton to give the Tigers a 36-34 lead with 4:42 left in the period.

Tigard took off from there. Gorton scored on a drive, Figura connected on a 19-foot jumper and a foul shot and junior Kyle Gustafson sank a pair of free throws as the Tigers opened up a 43-35 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Ferrer went 2-for-2 from the foul line to give Tigard a 45-36 advantage with 6:31 remaining to play. But the Axemen started chipping away at the Tiger lead.

A put-back basket by South Eugene junior Boseko Lokombo

See TIGERS, A12