Slow start dooms the Pioneers in a 49-43 loss against Sherwood.

by: THE POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Jacob Groom goes up for a reverse layup during Fridays home loss to the Bowmen.

The first of the Sherwood students were reaching the hardwood just as time expired. Within a matter of seconds, the whole student section stormed the floor to celebrate Sherwood’s 49-43 upset win over Sandy on Friday night.

“Our guys are starting to see that Sandy is getting everybody’s best shot,” Sandy coach Jason Maki said. “Being the hunted is a little different and they are starting to see it’s not such an easy thing.”

The Pioneers have consistently fallen behind opponents early in games this season, and they have usually found a way to come back to win at the end. No level of late-game heroics could have reversed their dismal start against the Bowmen.

Sandy didn’t get on the board until the final half-minute of the first quarter, yet somehow only trailed by four points at the end of the period. With as poorly as they played, the Pioneers were psyched to still be in the game.

In the second quarter though, Sandy’s whole world unraveled. The new period did nothing to cure the Pioneers’ shooting woes. They missed layups, open jumpers and free throws. On the contrary, Sherwood nailed turnaround jumpers and runners. The Bowmen made it a point to get the ball inside to junior forward Jordan Kurahara, who scored six consecutive points in the second quarter. He finished with a game-high 18 points.

With one minute left in the first half, the Pioneers looked stunned and confused as they looked up at the scoreboard to see they were behind 24-6. They had no idea what was happening.

Sherwood knew exactly what it was doing.

Defensively, the Bowmen knew the key to stopping Sandy was stopping Justin Adams and Jacob Groom, and that was their focus. Sherwood successfully got Adams in foul trouble early, keeping him on the bench for long stretches in the first half. Groom took elbow to the head in the first quarter, which produced a cut. He had to stay off the floor until the bleeding stopped. By halftime, Adams and Groom had combined for three points.

“It’s tough for any team to go that long without your two leading scorers,” Maki said. “That was really a challenge for us.”

In the fourth quarter, Adams tried to bring the Pioneers back from the dead. He finally got rolling in the post and willed in some shots as Sandy chipped away at the deficit.

Adams scored 11 points in the quarter to finish with 15. With less than one minute remaining, Adams connected on a 3-pointer to make it a four-point game. The Pioneers never got closer as they ended the game with two turnovers, a defensive breakdown and an air ball.

Sandy fell out of first place with the loss, while Sherwood stayed in the hunt for a top-two conference finish.

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