The Sandy boys basketball team rolls to a 38-point win over St. Helens on Senior Night

by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandys Canyon Dwyre floats to the basket during last weeks win over St. Helens. The Pioneers hosted Cleveland in a play-in game Tuesday.Maybe it was the pre-game Senior-Night celebration, or perhaps it was a last-ditch effort to move up in the 5A rankings. Whatever it was that inspired the Sandy boys’ basketball team on Tuesday against St. Helens, it worked beyond anyone’s expectations.

The Pioneers creamed St. Helens 68-30 in their final home game of the season on February 25 to improve to 18-5.

“In some of our big games earlier in the year we were a little tight, but tonight we were loose and came out with great energy,” Sandy coach Jason Maki said.

Sandy started the game on fire and stormed out to a 21-6 lead early in the second quarter. To that point, the Pioneers were able to do whatever they wanted to offensively. They had easy looks under the hoop and uncontested opportunities from beyond the 3-point arc. Sandy capitalized on those chances as it connected on more than 60 percent of its field-goal attempts in that early stretch.

The Pioneers were more impressive defensively. They anticipated St. Helens’ passes with uncanny success. In the first quarter, Sandy caught almost as many St. Helens passes as St. Helens did. The Lions struggled to shoot the ball, but their main issue was the lack of attempts caused by the slew of turnovers forced by the Pioneers.

“We really wanted to win in front of our home crowd on Senior Night,” Sandy senior Braden Luff said. “We wanted to start well tonight, but it was really our energy that kept us going all game.”

It wasn’t the first time this season that Sandy had a picture-perfect start, but the difference against the Lions was its ability to sustain that momentum throughout the night. St. Helens did start to break out of the offensive spell it was under in the middle of the second quarter, but it still had no answer for Sandy’s offensive attack. After St. Helens scored on two straight possessions, Austin Gorski and Luff nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Pioneers a 36-13 edge with less than minute to go in the first half.

Sandy’s Zach Gilbert kept the Pioneers rolling after the half as he outscored St. Helens 7-4 in the first 3:30 of the third period. St. Helens’ Tanner Long netted eight points in the quarter, but the Lions still sat in a 51-27 hole going into the fourth.

The Lions mailed it in after the third quarter and the Pioneers were just toying with St. Helens by the time game neared its end. Sandy, who had thoroughly pummeled the Lions all night, turned into the Harlem Globetrotters in the fourth quarter with a collection of alley-oops and deep 3-pointers. Behind a trio of deep bombs from Luff, Sandy outscored St. Helens 17-3 in the final period to claim a 38-point blowout win.

“We moved the ball really well and that gave all of us easier shots,” Luff said. “We helped each other out the whole game. That gave me a lot of open looks.”

Luff went 5-for-6 from downtown in the game to finish with 15 points, and Gorski ended the night with 13. Sandy had 10 different players score in the contest.

The Pioneers rounded out the regular season with a decisive 60-43 win at Milwaukie on Friday to finish with a 19-5 record. Sandy ended the year ranked 10th in the Class 5A rankings and hosted No. 23 Cleveland in a play-in qualifier on Tuesday.

“We were upset with some of the losses we have had, so we are pumped to play well in our play-in game, and hopefully our playoff game to make it to Eugene,” Sandy senior Tyler New said.

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