Sandy stays within two points at the end of the first quarter before falling 82-61

by: THE POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy center Justin Adams works to get to the basket against Churchills David Shedrick during last weeks 5A quarterfinals.

EUGENE – For the first nine minutes, Sandy was every bit as good as top-seeded Churchill. Once that nine-minute mark hit, the Lancers stepped into a different world and pulled away from the Pioneers on their way to an 82-61 win.

Sandy had the energy initially and played the game at its pace. Justin Adams snagged five rebounds in the first two minutes, two of which were on the offensive glass and led to four Sandy points. At the end of the first quarter, the Pioneers trailed by just two points. On the first possession of the second quarter, Sandy guard Jacob Groom sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key to give the Pioneers a 19-18 advantage.

Then the wheels came off.

Churchill started playing like the No. 1 team in the state. The Lancers penetrated at will and Sandy couldn’t stop them. When the Pioneers did converge on a driving Lancer, he would kick it out for an open 3-pointer. Churchill finished the quarter on a 13-2 run and outscored Sandy 25-10 after Groom’s 3-pointer.

The Lancers’ defense kicked into high gear to match their offensive output. They started putting two defenders on Adams at all times, even when he didn’t have the ball. That put added pressure on Sandy’s guards to make good passes and shots. They did neither. During the Churchill run, an eight-foot jumper by Blake Robison was the only Sandy shot to go in, and very few others came close.

When the errant shots piled up, the Pioneers pressed and started forcing passes. Churchill was opportunistic and turned most of those poor passes into layups or free throws on the other end.

“There was one quarter that got away from us,” Sandy coach Jason Maki said. “We were close in the other quarters.”

For Sandy, the second half was just about making the game respectable. The Pioneers found their shooting touch to some extent, but the turnover problem never got resolved. Churchill forced 24 Sandy turnovers in the game.

Adams scored 11 points for the Pioneers in the fourth quarter in an effort to narrow the gap. Adams finished with 17 points and 18 rebounds. Groom also tried to make it close late as he scored five of his 17 points in the final two minutes. Churchill had an answer for every make by Adams or Groom and it held a comfortable lead throughout.

“We saw five or six of their games on film, and we thought we had a chance,” Maki said. “We would have needed a darn good game to beat them. We had some darn good moments, but not a darn good game.”

Churchill advanced to the 5A title game before falling to Jefferson 59-53.

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