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Tigers battle their way past Tualatin

Boys basketball: Tigard scores a 54-43 win over the Wolves to get the season-series sweep
by: JAIME VALDEZ, IT’S MINE — Tigard junior Kyle Figura tries to keep the ball away from Tualatin’s Chris Reid.

TIGARD - It wasn't pretty by any means. But at this point in the season, the Tigard boys basketball team will take wins any way it can - especially against rival Tualatin.

The Tigers swept the three-game season series, beating the Timberwolves 53-43 on Tuesday at Tigard High to improve to 10-4 in the Pacific Conference and 16-8 overall. The victory, coupled with McMinnville's overtime loss to Canby, enabled the Tigers to wrap up the No. 2 playoff seed out of the Pacific Conference with one game remaining.

'I thought they outplayed us,' Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said. 'But we did what we needed to get the win. It always a tough game when we play them. They played their tails off for 32 minutes and we did for 14 to 16 minutes.'

But during that stretch, the Tigers, who were led by K.C. Wiser's game-high 17 points, did enough damage to drop Tualatin to 6-8 in Pacific play and 9-14 overall. It started midway through the first quarter when Tigard began a 18-0 run in which Tualatin was held scoreless for nearly 10 minutes.

Tigers' wing Ryan Gorton, who had 15 points, got things going with a steal then grabbed his own rebound and hit the putback to make it 5-4 with 4 minutes, 45 seconds left in the first quarter. Senior wing Shawn Driskill followed by swishing a three-pointer and later adding another as Tigard built its lead to 16-5 by the end of the first quarter after senior post K.C. Wiser's putback.

Junior Kyle Figura opened the second quarter scoring by burying a shot from beyond the top of the arc and Gorton added a free throw for a 20-5 lead.

Tualatin finally got back on the board when sophomore Brandon Troxel worked inside and banked in a short turnaround shot with 3:26 left in the second.

'We weren't making hard cuts or looking for the ball,' said Troxel, who scored a team-high 14 points. 'We just weren't doing anything right.'

That changed in the second half when the Wolves got back in the game. Junior guard Austonn Lazoff scored eight of Tualatin's first 10 points after the intermission as the Wolves closed within four at 27-23.

Tigard responded with a 7-0 run to build its lead back to double digits at 34-23 before Tualatin forward Matt Losli beat the buzzer by swishing a deep shot for three of his 10 points.

Senior Josh Harbolt's layin gave Tigard a 40-26 lead when the Wolves made one final push with a 15-4 run. Losli started the spurt with a 3-point play. Troxel later drained a three-pointer then another with 3:10 left to draw Tualatin within three at 44-41.

But Figura matched him on the other end, rattling in a shot beyond the top of the arc. Wiser converted four straight free throws to ice the win for Tigard, who made all 10 shots at the charity stripe in the fourth quarter and were 18-of-22 in the game.

'We weren't working the whole time,' Wiser said. 'If we do, we blow them out. With how we showed tonight, we're not playoff ready, but we still have Newberg to hone it.'

Tigard wraps up Pacific play at Newberg on Friday, then hosts South Eugene, the No. 3 seed out of the Southwest Conference, in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs on Wednesday.

'We're just a little too inconsistent,' Alderman said. 'Hopefully through practice and our last game we can get things on track.'

Tualatin ends league play at home against McMinnville on Friday then likely travels to No. 6 Oregon City, who holds the Three Rivers No. 2 spot, for Wednesday's state playoff first round game.