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Spartans lose 55-41 to the Tigers after wins over Century and Centennial at Century/Hillsboro Holiday Tournament.

HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Hilhi's Quintin Thomas tries to get around a Newberg defender during the Spartans' Century/Hillsboro Holiday Tournament game against Newberg at Hillsboro High School Dec. 29.With wins over Centennial and Century to start the tournament, the Hillsboro Spartans appeared to run out of gas in their third and final game of the Century/Hillsboro Holiday Tournament against Newberg Friday, Dec. 29, at Hillsboro High School.

The Spartans (4-6) stayed close early, fell behind before halftime, then had every comeback attempt thwarted by a Tiger team that just simply played better, falling to the 6A Three Rivers League team 55-41.

Newberg (6-4) was led by a balanced attack consisting of timely outside shooting, gritty play in the paint and solid rebounding and defense from a bigger Tiger lineup that the Spartans — at least on this night — had little answer for.

The Tigers got 14 points from junior post Kyle Kruse, 10 points from senior wing Ben O'Loughlin, and 9 points — all on from behind the arc — from 5-foot-8 guard Garrett Myers in the victory, while the Spartans were led by senior guard Quintin Thomas, who scored 18, Jakob Allen's nine and sophomore Nate Smith who tallied four points and seven tough rebounds among the taller and bigger Newberg front line.

Hilhi trailed just 10-9 after one quarter and 27-19 at the half. The Spartans got a quick bucket from Smith to start the third and appeared to be playing with increased energy and poised to make a move on the Tigers, but for every Hillsboro answer the Tigers had one of their own. After Smith cut the lead to six, Myers made it nine with his first three of the night. Then, after Hilhi's Collin Turnbaugh scored to make it 30-23, Newberg's O'Loughlin hit back-to-back three-pointers to grow the lead to 13 before Thomas got five straight of his own to cut the lead to eight before it ended 41-31 at the end of the third quarter.

It was more of the same in the fourth. Thomas tried mightily to keep the Spartans in the game, scoring six straight to start the quarter to cut the lead to 47-38, but O'Loughlin scored inside on the Tigers' next possession and Newberg ran off six straight after that before Thomas hit a meaningless three from beyond the arc to end the game.

The loss came on the heels of a 45-37 win over Century the night before and a three-point win over Centennial to open the tournament a night prior to that.

The Spartans are scheduled to open league play versus St. Helens Friday, Jan. 5, at Hillsboro High School at 7:15 p.m.

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