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Sherwood starts strong in its 61-44 win over Putnam

by: DAN BROOD - LOOKING FOR ROOM -- Sherwood junior point guard Evan Kitto (right) looks to get past Putnam's Calvin Spencer in Tuesday's game.MILWAUKIE — Sure, the Sherwood High School boys basketball team enjoyed what easily could be called a successful non-league schedule.

That makes sense, after all, the Bowmen went 7-2 while posting victories over talented Class 6A squads during their non-league slate.

But, for Sherwood, that all takes a backseat to Northwest Oregon Conference play.

And, on Tuesday, the Bowmen took what they hope is the first step toward winning the NWOC championship.

Sherwood opened conference play by rolling to a 61-44 win over Rex Putnam in a game played at Rex Putnam High School.

“That’s a great start,” said Sherwood senior post Jordan Kurahara, who had 11 points and 12 rebounds in the victory. “Our goal is to win league. We’ve been close before, but, this year, I think we have a good shot.”

“This is big,” said Sherwood senior forward Lucas Johnson, who led all scorers with 19 points. “It’s a good start. We hope to keep it going.”

Putnam fell to 1-9 on the season with the loss. Sherwood upped its overall record to 8-2 while — importantly to the Bowmen — getting off to a 1-0 in conference play.

“We were excited for it,” Johnson said. “We want to win league. That’s one of our team goals.”

With that in mind, Sherwood got off to a flying start to Tuesday’s game.by: DAN BROOD - WAY UP HIGH -- Sherwood High School senior Jordan Kurahara (right) goes up high to shoot over Rex Putnam's Bradley Foster. Kurahara had 11 points and 12 rebounds in the Bowmen's 61-44 victory.

Back-to-back three-pointers by juniors Tommy Paul and Ben Milligan gave the Bowmen a 12-5 lead with 2 minutes and 44 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

Sherwood junior point guard Evan Kitto scored a pair of baskets late in the period to give the Bowmen a 16-7 advantage going into the second quarter.

Sherwood kept rolling from there.

Milligan opened the period with a basket on a 10-foot jumper. Kitto then converted a three-point play and Milligan added a layup off a pass from Johnson to push the margin to 23-7 with 6:35 left to play in the first half.

The Bowmen were able to score just six more points — two each by Milligan, Kitto and Johnson — the rest of the period. But, thanks to its strong defense, Sherwood didn’t lose much of its lead, as it held at 29-14 advantage at halftime.

Putnam, which made just four of 22 shots from the field against the Bowmen defense in the first half, seemed to find its shooting touch in the third quarter. The Kingsmen made seven of 14 shots from the field in the period, including a three-pointer by senior Calvin Spencer, who scored nine points in the period.

But, despite that, Putnam wasn’t able to make up any ground on the Bowmen, who turned to the 6-foot-9 Kurahara and the 6-6 Johnson.

Kurahara scored six points in the first 2:38 of the period and Johnson scored six points in the final 3:11 of the quarter, which ended with Sherwood holding a 46-31 lead.

Kurahara sank a short-range banker to start the fourth quarter. Soon after, Johnson would add back-to-back buckets, including a three-pointer, to give the Bowmen a 20-point advantage, at 53-33, with 4:22 left to play in the contest.

From there, free throws down the stretch from Johnson and Paul helped the Bowmen wrap up the 61-44 win, and the 1-0 start to conference play.

“We knew it would be a tough road game,” Kurahara said. “We worked inside out and hit some threes. We could have played a little better, but it was a win.”

Johnson scored his game-high 19 points on a 7-for-10 shooting night from the field. He got many open looks in the contest, thanks to the Bowmen’s strong passing.

“We work on that in practice a lot,” said Johnson, who also had seven rebounds and three steals in the victory. “We do a lot of drills with no dribbling, just passing.”

Kurahara, in his double-double, had five offensive rebounds and seven boards on the defensive end.

Kitto scored 14 points while dishing out four assists and grabbing three steals. Milligan had a strong overall performance with 10 points, four rebounds and three blocked shots.

Sherwood, as a team, made 21 of 46 shots from the field while also outrebounding Putnam by a 33-19 margi.

Spencer led the Kingsmen with 17 points and senior Drew O’Dell added nine, all coming in the fourth quarter.

Now, the Bowmen hope the win is the sign of good things to come in NWOC play this season, which, they hope, ends with a Sherwood conference title.

“We need to make sure to play good defense, handle the pressure and hit some threes,” Kurahara said.

“We’ve got some smart players,” Johnson said. “We know what we need to do.”

Prior to the win at Rex Putnam, Sherwood capped off its non-league schedule by scoring a 53-43 win over North Salem in a game played Friday at Sherwood High School. Kurahara had 18 points in that victory and Kitto added 11.

The Bowmen will be back in action Friday when they host St. Helens in a conference game set to start at 7:15 p.m. at Sherwood High School.

On Tuesday, Sherwood will travel to Parkrose for 7:15 p.m. conference game.

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