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Pioneers overcome lethargic start

Individual performances fuel Sandys win over The Dalles


by: CONTRIBUTED PHOTO: JULI CHURCHILL - Sandy Pioneers guard Jacob Groom fueled his team with 14 points and seven assists. Groom, along with Justin Adams, who had 21 points and six boards, led Sandy to a 50-42 win last Friday.

Jason Maki didn’t know why his team was flat in the first quarter against The Dalles Wahtonka, but regardless of the reason, the Sandy boys basketball team didn’t get off to the start it hoped.

“I don’t know if it was the early start time or if we were tired or if it was that we were hoping for a bigger crowd, but we have to be able to have better starts than that by league play,” Sandy’s coach said.

Despite the disappointment of empty grandstands, the Pioneers found their groove, and behind a couple of strong individual efforts, they cruised to a 50-42 win last Friday at Sandy High School.

“The kids did a good job of coming out in the third quarter and not giving them anything easy,” Maki said.

When it came to scoring, Justin Adams and Jacob Groom combined for much of the action. In the paint, Adams was hard to contain. The Eagle Indians tried double teaming the senior, but he still found a way to score a team-high 21 points and grab six rebounds.

When The Dalles turned all its energy to Adams, he was able to kick the ball to Groom at the perimeter. Groom hit three treys in the game, en route to 14 points and seven assists.

“Justin is hard to stop inside, so if you double team him, then you allow Jacob and other shooters open looks, which they usually knock down,” Maki said.

Sandy’s toughest challenge on defense was finding a way to suffocate the Eagle Indians’ 6-foot-7 Grayson Byers.

Other than scoring seven points in the second quarter, Byers was held silent, limited to 12 points in the game.

“I thought we did a great job on him,” Maki said.

There were plenty of positives from Friday’s win, but Maki wasn’t shying away from the negatives, either.

While Sandy is 3-1 on the season, as of Tuesday, Dec. 18, Maki has hoped to see more consistency throughout the lineup. Along with Adams and Groom, Brandon Ford got into the mix, with 11 points and four boards. But the rest of the roster was rather quiet — two other players scored two points each.

“We are still looking for some consistency,” Maki said. “Jacob and Justin have been pretty consistent, but we haven’t really settled on who starts the game and, more importantly, who finishes games.”

Maki was also wanting to see a better performance on the boards.

“We gave up too many offensive boards,” he said. “That has been a problem so far this season. We have to do a better job rebounding.”

The Pioneers are preparing to enter a difficult stretch of games before they enter conference play. On Tuesday, Dec. 18, they faced 6A school Barlow. Then Sandy’s next test will come during the Les Schwab Holiday Hoopfest from Dec. 27-29.

“We are really entering a stretch that will prepare us for league play,” Maki said.