Grant prevents Cats from return to state

The Generals win 73-57 and prevent Cats' fourth straight tournament berth
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, TOUGH LOSS — Westview senior Andy Poling is consoled by Wildcat assistant coaches after his team’s 73-57 loss on Saturday at Grant High School.

The Westview boys basketball team was rolling after a near-flawless performance to open the Class 6A state playoffs.

But a rough late stretch and Grant's pressure defense left the Wildcats reeling after a second round loss.

Westview's inside-out game was at full fervor in a 68-50 win over Sheldon in a first round playoff game last Wednesday, at Westview High School, but the No. 8 Generals limited both aspects Saturday, using heavy pressure to rattle the Wildcats in a 73-57 loss at Grant High School.

The setback ended Westview's season at 14-13 in a schedule that featured playoff teams aplenty. It also marked standout Andy Poling's final game as a Wildcat, closing a run in which the 7-foot post helped Westview make the state tournament the previous three years.

'We might be the toughest .500 team in Oregon history,' Poling, a three-time Metro first team selection, said after the Grant game. 'We had overtimes, last-second shots, buzzer-beaters. We hoped they would all pay off and they didn't tonight. Sometimes that's just how life goes.'

With Poling, who is headed to Gonzaga, so goes energetic point guard Terrell Wallace.

'Andy's been such an anchor to our program,' Westview coach Pat Coons said. 'He made everyone else better because of the attention he drew. And it's tough to lose Terrell. He really settled in and had some big games for us.'

Three other seniors - Ricky Egger, Tyler Klassy and Sam Haag - also played their final games as Wildcats with Coons remarking, 'They're all incredible kids. If we don't get their attitude and focus, this team falls apart.'

Grant 73, Westview 57

PORTLAND - As they've done all season, the Wildcats battled at Grant Saturday.

As has been the case in defeat all season, turnovers and free throw woes were Westview's undoing.

The Generals' pestering defense forced 22 turnovers and Westview shot under 50 percent at the foul line in Saturday's 73-57 loss.

'Their guards got us preoccupied,' said wing Hayes Garrity, who led Westview with 19 points. 'A lot of times we came up the court and they came from behind and poked it free.'

Still, the Wildcats were within reach, heading into the final quarter down 48-45 and 53-48 a minute into it. Then, in a matter of 30 seconds, things unraveled.

Grant, the PIL champion, forced three straight turnovers at midcourt, quickly turning them into a 59-48 lead with 6:15 left in the game. Westview never recovered.

'That took the last wind out of us,' Poling said. 'And it really super charged them. That's what their team lives on.'

It came to life with a Grant steal and Michael Moser's jumper for two of his game-high 20 points. Senior Michael James' steal led to the 6-foot-1 guard's one-handed jam. Seconds later, Josh Hardin's steal set up Kenneth Acker's layin.

After a timeout, Westview finally broke the press and Poling scored on a putback, but Grant added a 10-2 run to ice the victory.

'Grant does a great job on defense,' Coons said. 'It's hard to get the kids to slow down because the heat is on constantly.'

The Wildcats also felt pressure at the foul line, where they shot 62 percent in 2007-08. They went 10-of-22 Saturday, limiting their comeback effort after falling behind in the first quarter.

'That's been our nemesis all year in close games,' Coons said. 'We didn't make them pay at the line. If you don't, it's a turnover.'

Westview had no issues early after 3-pointers by junior Tim Coons and Garrity. Wallace drove and extended over a defender for a layin and 10-2 lead.

But senior wing Josh Hardin took over for the Generals, scoring 10 of his 14 points in the first quarter. Senior Paul McCoy, who finished with 16 points, and Moser added 3-pointers and Grant held a 22-16 lead by the end of the quarter.

With Grant's pressure restricting Westview inside, Poling was held to one point in the first half. Still, the Wildcats stayed close behind 3-pointers from junior guard Josh Hill and Wallace.

Garrity capped his 13-point first half by hitting two free throws then scoring on a buzzer-beating reverse layin off a Wallace steal and assist to draw Westview within four at 36-32. Sophomore Garrett Jackson's jump hook to start the second half made it a 2-point game, but the Wildcats got no closer.

Poling got his first bucket with 1:12 left and Garrity hit 4-of-4 free throws in a 7-0 Westview run to end the third quarter. Trailing 48-45 heading into the final quarter, the comeback ended then and there.

'I was impressed with the way the kids weathered the tough competition all season,' coach Coons said. 'It was an incredible year.'