Timberwolves keep moving forward

Boys basketball: Tualatin ends play at the Lakeridge tourney by beating North Medford 65-59
by: DAN BROOD, UP FOR TWO — Tualatin junior Anthony Freeman (51) shoots over North Medford’s Danny Berger.

TUALATIN - The Tualatin High School boys basketball team still has the look of being a work in progress.

But, with a strong finish at the Lakeridge Holiday Classic, the Timberwolves do indeed seem to be making progress.

Tualatin finished the three-day tournament by running to a 65-59 win over North Medford in a tourney game played Friday at Lakeridge High School.

'It's coming together,' Tualatin senior Matt Losli said after the victory. 'We're using this tournament to gel more as a team.'

Tualatin, which won two of its three games at the tournament, moved to 5-3 on the season with the victory over North Medford.

'We're getting some good team chemistry going,' Tualatin senior Jordan Highland said. 'I'm finally getting my legs underneath me.'

Losli, Highland and junior post Taylor Hart were all part of the Timberwolf football team that made it all the way to the state championship game, meaning they got a very late start to the basketball season.

'We just haven't had enough practices as a full team,' Tualatin coach Rick Osborn said. 'We're not clicking on offense, but we'll get there. These are great kids and they're working hard.'

In Friday's game, the teams battled to a 12-12 tie at the end of the first quarter, with Losli scoring six points in the period for the Wolves.

Tualatin, behind the play of junior post Anthony Freeman, Jr., took over in the second quarter. Freeman, coming off the bench, scored the Wolves' first eight points of the period, helping the Wolves take a 20-16 lead with 3 minutes and 57 seconds left in the first half.

Tualatin junior Eric Kjemperud followed Freeman's scoring spree with a scoop shot for a basket and senior Mick Bies added a short-range jumper off an assist from Highland as the Wolves went on to claim a 24-17 halftime lead.

The Wolves kept adding to their lead throughout the third quarter. Bies connected on a pair of three-pointers, scoring eight points in the period, and Losli had seven points in the quarter, which ended with Tualatin holding a 43-33 lead.

Tualatin continued rolling early in the fourth quarter. Highland scored on a layup off an assist from Bies and senior Jordan Barendse sank a three-pointer to give the Wolves their biggest lead of the game, at 56-38, with 3:36 left to play in the contest.

The Timberwolf lead was at 58-41 after Kjemperud put in a pair of foul shots with 2:02 to play. From there, Tualatin had to fight off a furious late rally by North Medford.

Black Tornado senior Michael Williams converted a three-point play and junior Jordan Ellis followed with a three-point basket to get North Medford to within six, at 63-57, with 20 seconds to play. But Bies went 2-for-2 at the free throw stripe with 12.1 seconds remaining to help Tualatin wrap up the 65-59 win.

'Defense was the key for us,' Losli said. 'We're getting better. I know that I still feel a little clumsy out there.'

Losli led a balanced Tualatin scoring attack in the win with 16 points. Highland added 12 points and he also pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds.

'If the ball goes up, I want to get it,' he said.

Bies scored 14 points and Freeman had 12 points and seven rebounds. Barendse scored seven points, all coming in the fourth quarter.

Tualatin, as a team, made 25 of 43 shots from the field and 11 of 17 free throws. The Wolves also outrebounded North Medford by a 37-25 margin.

Junior Josh Pecktol led North Medford with 14 points.

Tualatin opened the tournament Dec. 19 with a 77-66 loss to Hillsboro. Losli scored 19 points in that game, Freeman had 16, Bies added 13 and junior Brandon Troxel scored 12.

The Wolves bounced back last Thursday to defeat Gresham 59-43. Bies led the way with 16 points in the victory. Losli and junior Brian Symonds each scored eight points.