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Saints get back into playoff hunt with win


Mt. Hood men even their league mark with a 69-55 win over Umpqua

The Mt. Hood men’s basketball team climbed back into the South Region playoff chase with a 69-55 win over Umpqua on Saturday.

The Saints took a seven-point lead into halftime and kept Umpqua at bay throughout the final 20 minutes. Mt. Hood shoved off early in the half when Landon Rushton tossed a long alley-oop pass to Cody Mitchell, who slammed it home for an easy two.

Blake Updike took over from there, hitting a runner in the lane, followed by a 3-pointer that stretched the lead to double digits and prompted the Riverhawks to spend a quick timeout.

The break in play did nothing to slow Updike, who barely moved the net for his third straight from long range to put the Saints up 47-35 with 13:50 left.

“Every time I’m open I look to shoot,” Updike said. “You find out if you’re on or off with that first shot, and when that went down it did a lot for my confidence.”

Updike led the way with 18 points, including 4 of 6 (.667) shooting from 3-point range.

Umpqua cut the gap to five points with 8:20 to play, and this time it was Mt. Hood calling timeout to reset their focus.

The Saints came out of the huddle and fed a stream of passes inside where center Thomas Simien came through with back-to-back baskets to stretch the lead back to a comfortable margin.

“We decided to use our size advantage and control the game from inside,” Simien said. “I just used my width to get position inside, and trusted my guards to send the ball into me.”

Simien missed just once for the game and finished with 13 points.

Barlow High graduate Brock Otis found Updike open on the right side for his final 3 of the night to stretch the lead to 62-51. The shot seemed to take all the fight out of the Riverhawks with four minutes to play.

Needing points in a hurry, Umpqua relied almost exclusively on 3-point tries down the stretch and came up empty. The Riverhawks went 1 for 16 (.063) from behind the arc.

The win puts Mt. Hood (5-5) back to .500 in league, tied with Portland CC for the fourth and final playoff spot with two weeks left in the regular season.

The Saints play at Clackamas CC (4-6) at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday.