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Tualatin keeps its season alive with win over Barlow

Boys basketball: The Wolves knock off the Bruins 60-55 to advance to the fourth-place game
by: DAN BROOD, UP, UP AND AWAY — Tualatin High School senior Matt Losli skies up to the basket in the Timberwolves’ 60-55 win over No. 2-ranked Barlow on Friday.

EUGENE - One more game.

That's all the Timberwolves wanted.

And thanks to a strong, determined effort, they earned that one last game.

The Tualatin High School boys basketball team kept its season alive by scoring a 60-55 win over Barlow in a Class 6A state tournament fourth-place semifinal game played Friday morning at McArthur Court.

With the victory, the Wolves avoided elimination and advanced to play in Saturday's state tournament fourth-place game.

'This was a real important game for us,' Tualatin coach Rick Osborn said after the win. 'I told the kids before the game that I wanted the opportunity to coach them one more time this season.'

Barlow, which came into the tournament as the No. 2-ranked team in the state, finished its season with a final record of 23-5.

Tualatin, the Pacific Conference champion, improved its record to 20-6 going into the tournament fourth-place game.

Determined Tualatin junior post Brandon Troxel helped make sure that Wolves would get their one last game of the season by scoring a game-high 22 points on a 9-for-10 shooting performance from the field.

'I didn't want to let down the seniors,' Troxel said. 'It was real important to let everyone play one more game.'

Troxel had his big game despite sitting out the entire second quarter after picking up two fouls in the first quarter. He responded by scoring 12 points in the third quarter, when the Wolves turned a four-point halftime lead into a 14-point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.

'I really wanted to get back out there,' Troxel said of his big third quarter. 'It's tough sitting on the bench.'

Troxel, and the rest of the Timberwolves for that matter, got off to a strong start to the contest.

Tualatin, getting baskets by junior post Anthony Freeman, Jr., senior guard Mick Bies and Troxel - and a three-pointer by Bies off a pass from Troxel - sprinted out to a 9-0 lead before the game was even three minutes old.

Troxel added a three-pointer of his own, as well as a short-range jumper, later in the first quarter, which ended with Tualatin holding a 19-11 lead.

With Troxel on the bench in the second quarter, junior post Taylor Hart stepped up to pick up some of the scoring slack. He scored on a layup off an assist from junior point guard Alex Murray and he also put down a bank shot off a pass from Bies in the opening minute of the period.

However, the Bruins came back strong behind some pinpoint outside shooting. Barlow junior Mat Delaunay sank a pair of three-pointers and Bruin juniors Drew Johnson and Robbie Nelson each sank a shot from beyond the arc to tie the game at 23-23 with 4 minutes and 23 seconds left before halftime.

The Wolves quickly regained the lead at 25-23 on a put-back basket by Freeman. Tualatin senior Matt Losli followed with three free throws and Bies nailed a three-pointer to give the Wolves a 31-27 halftime lead.

Troxel scored Tualatin's first 10 points of the third quarter, all coming in the first 3:25 of the period to help the Wolves open up their lead. Tualatin senior Jordan Highland added a basket on a drive later in the period and Bies scored back-to-back baskets to give the Wolves a 51-37 lead at the end of the quarter.

Freeman started the fourth quarter with a layup off a pass from senior Xavier Reed to give Tualatin its biggest lead of the game at 53-37.

But the Bruins came storming back. They cut the lead to 58-52 when Johnson sank a three-pointer with 1:37 left to play. After a missed Timberwolf free throw in a one-and-one situation, Barlow got even closer. Johnson converted a three-point play with 44.6 seconds left to play, cutting the Tualatin lead to 58-55.

Another free throw miss by Tualatin left the Bruins with a chance to tie the game, but, with 28 seconds left, Johnson missed a three-pointer and Losli was quickly fouled after he grabbed the defensive rebound.

Losli sank both of his ensuing free throws to up the lead to 60-55. Barlow missed three desperation three-pointers down the stretch, securing the Timberwolf victory.

'This was important,' Freeman said. 'We wanted the season to last one more day. This was pretty nice. We woke up at 6 a.m., came in for shootaround and got the win.'

'This game was important going forward into next season,' Osborn said. 'Hopefully we can make another run next year. And I feel you have to be here first and experience it before you can really be successful. It's also important to let our seniors go out with a nice legacy.'

In addition to Troxel's 22 points, Bies added 12 points, Freeman scored 10 and Hart added six.

Tualatin also outrebounded Barlow by a 43-21 margin.

'We emphasized boxing out,' Freeman said. 'The key was playing hard, getting rebounds and no turnovers.'

Losli pulled down nine rebounds to pace the Wolves in that category. Highland had eight rebounds and Freeman had seven boards. Murray led Tualatin with three assists.

Johnson topped Barlow with 16 points.