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Deep Tigers roll to victory at Crater


Tigard will next play at No. 1 Lake Oswego on Friday

Going into its state playoff game with Tigard, the Crater High School boys basketball team had a plan — stop Evan Garrison, stop the Tigers.

Well, the Comets may have slowed down Garrison, a sharp-shooting guard and Pacific Conference Player of the Year, but they didn’t come close to stopping the Tigers.by: BRUCE BERG - DRIVING -- Tigard junior Nick Kaelin (right) looks to move up court against Crater's Connor Lane in Tuesday's playoff game. The Tigers won 62-41.

Tigard, with other players on its deep roster stepping up, rolled to a 62-41 win over the Comets in a Class 6A state playoff first round game played Tuesday at Crater High School in Central Point.

“Their game plan was to take Evan out of it,” Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said. “But we have a lot of guys who can get the job done. We had a lot of guys step up.”

“This was really big for us,” said Tigard junior wing Elijah Simon, who came off the bench to lead a balanced Tiger scoring attack with 13 points. “It was a long drive down there, so we had to make sure we had a lot of energy.”

“This is really big,” said Tigard junior guard Bryan Berg, who came off the bench to score 10 points. “We’re taking every game one at a time.”

Crater, the No. 3 team out of the Southern Oregon Hybrid League, finished its season with a final overall record of 13-12. Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, improved to 18-7 on the season with its 15th straight win.

With the victory, Tigard advances to face top-ranked and undefeated Lake Oswego in a Class 6A state playoff second round game set to start at 7 p.m. Friday at Lake Oswego High School.

“That’s going to be a good game,” Simon said. “We’re going to play our hearts out.”

“We’re going to try and be physical and play hard,” Berg said.

Tigard also had to play strong in Tuesday’s playoff opener at Crater.

“They’re a physical team, so we had to be physical, too,” Simon said.

The physical Comets held Garrison, Tigard’s leading scorer on the season, to nine points — all coming on fourth-quarter free throws.

“I knew someone had to step up,” Simon said. “Bryan and I got together and went at it.”

Berg scored eight points in the first quarter, helping Tigard take a 17-10 lead at the end of the period. The Tigers went on to take a 24-16 halftime advantage.

Crater rallied to trim the margin to four in the third quarter, but Tigard ended the period with a 9-0 run, with Simon scoring on three consecutive possessions.

The Tigers then scored 25 fourth-quarter points to pull away for the 62-41 victory.

“We do a lot of things as a team, and everyone stepped up,” Berg said.

“We handled adversity and the kids were tough,” Alderman said. “And we had a lot of other guys step up. Elijah played real well, Nick Kaelin was solid and Bryan Berg gave us a spark.”

Kaelin, a junior, scored 11 points. Sophomore post Joel Johnson added nine points.

Connor Lane led Crater with 10 points.

The winner of Friday’s game at Lake Oswego will advance to play in the Class 6A state tournament and will face either David Douglas or Southridge in a tourney quarterfinal game set to start at 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Rose Garden.