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Wolves take the air out, but the Pioneers prevail

Oregon City rallies in the second half for a playoff win over unheralded Tualatin

OREGON CITY - It wasn't pretty, but the seventh-ranked Oregon City Pioneers survived an early scare from a fired up team from Tualatin to win 63-52 in a Feb. 28 first-round game of the Class 6A boys basketball playoffs.

The visiting Timberwolves took the air out of the ball and played a motion delay game from the outset, and it earned them a 21-17 halftime advantage.

Things changed after the intermission. The Pioneers upped their defensive intensity at both ends of the floor, creating turnovers and an up-tempo game that played to their advantage.

'We were real slow coming out,' said Oregon City senior guard Colton Sundquist. 'We try not to overlook anyone, but I think we might have been overlooking them a little. It's hard not to overlook a team when you've got a game coming up with South Medford.

'[Playing South Medford] will be a great experience. It's going to be the highlight of my high school career.'

Brad Tinsley and Sundquist hit back-to-back 3-point baskets near the midpoint of the third period to put the Pioneers up for good, at 32-30.

The Pioneers gained additional momentum when Jared Cunningham stole the ball and slam-dunked it home to make it 34-30.

Tinsley followed up a Tualatin miss with another 3-pointer to make it 37-30, and the Pioneers were in charge of the tempo and the game.

Oregon City out-scored Tualatin 24-9 in the third period.

Sundquist stole the ball twice and the Pioneers got baskets from Cunningham, Sundquist and Tinsley on their first three possessions of the fourth quarter to stretch their lead to 47-30. Oregon City then put it in cruise control, and the Pioneers coasted to the 63-52 victory.

Tinsley, who finished with a game-high 28 points, had only 6 points at halftime.

The Timberwolves were decided underdogs, as they entered the game with a season record of 9-15, after finishing fourth in the Pacific Conference. Oregon City entered with a record of 20-5, after placing second to top-ranked Lake Oswego in the Three Rivers League.

The Timberwolves' determination to pull off an upset was reflected in game rebounding statistics. The Wolves played hard and scrapped for a 31-14 advantage on the backboards.

'I was concerned a little in the first quarter when I looked up at the scoreboard and saw [the score] was 3-2 for the longest time,' said Sundquist. 'But I have to give Tualatin credit. They played hard and they had a great game-plan.'

Cunningham (12 points) and Sundquist (10 points) joined Tinsley in double figures in scoring.

Cunningham and Sundquist had four steals apiece, as the Pioneers forced 15 turnovers.

Junior forward Matt Losli paced the Timberwolves in scoring with 18 points. The Wolves sported a young lineup, with only three seniors on their roster.

With the win, the Pioneers advanced to Saturday's second-round game at second-ranked South Medford.