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Tigard, a night following its first league loss, gets a 71-43 win

by: DAN BROOD - GOOD TIMES -- Tigard senior Bryan Berg, who scored a game-high 20 points, celebrates with his teammates following the 71-43 win over rival Tualatin.TIGARD — Maybe it was the sting of their first conference loss in almost two years.

Maybe it was the fact that they were playing their heated rival.

Maybe it was just too much Bryan Berg.

Whatever it was, it sure seemed to propel the Tigers — in a big way.

The Tigard High School basketball team bounced back from its first conference loss since Feb. 17, 2011 by rolling to a 71-43 win over rival Tualatin in a Pacific Conference game played Wednesday at Tigard High School.

“Tualatin is always a big game for us,” Berg said after the victory. “And it's always really fun.”

“Obviously, this felt good, especially after last night (when Tigard fell 63-52 at McMinnville),” Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said. “I'm really proud of how the kids bounced back.”

With the win, Tigard improved to 9-1 in Pacific Conference play (13-6 overall), putting the Tigers two games ahead of second-place Tualatin.

“Now, we just want to win out and get a league title,” said Tigard senior A.J. Hotchkins, who powered his way for 14 points in Wednesday's game.

The Timberwolves, who brought a six-game winning streak into the contest, moved to 7-3 in conference play, keeping them alone in second place in standings, and to 11-9 on the season. Now, Tualatin, like Tigard did, is looking to bounce back from the setback.

“This was a tough loss,” Tualatin senior guard Joey Fishback said. “This will put a chip on our shoulder. This will get us ready to go.”

Berg, a 6-foot-2 point guard, sure seemed ready to go in Wednesday's game. He turned in what could easily be called a spectacular performance, sinking five long-range, arching three-point baskets in addition to creating havoc with some high-flying drives to the rim on his way to scoring 20 points.

“He is a heck of a player,” Alderman said. “He's a great athlete and he's a great kid.”

Berg got his night off to a zooming start, sinking a pair of three-point baskets to give Tigard a quick 6-0 lead just 1 minute and 19 seconds into the game. A basket by senior Nick Kaelin upped the Tiger lead to 8-1 with 5:55 left in the period.

But the Wolves came fighting back. Tualatin got a pair of hoops from sophomore Luke Osborn as well as baskets from junior Alexander Reid, junior Jacob Bennett and sophomore Nathan Senger, as it trimmed the deficit to 14-12 at the end of the first quarter.

The Wolves then opened the second quarter with back-to-back baskets from senior Brandon Shroyer and Osborn to take their first lead of the game, at 16-14, with 6:52 left in the period.

A three-pointer by Fishback gave Tualatin a 22-21 advantage with 4:18 remaining in the half.

Tigard, getting back-to-back baskets from junior post Joel Johnson, came back to take a 27-22 lead. The Tiger lead was at 29-25 going into the final minute of the half when Berg came up with one of the big plays of the game. After taking a pass from junior Brady McGetrick, Berg buried a buzzer-beating long-range three-pointer to give the Tigers a 32-25 advantage at the intermission.by: DAN BROOD - ON THE MOVE -- Tualatin sophomore Nathan Senger (left) looks to drive to the basket against Tigard senior Nick Kaelin.

“Brady drove the defense in, made a great pass and I was able to hit the shot,” Berg said.

The basket also set the tone for what would be an amazing second half for the Tigers. And, not surprisingly, Berg was a big part of that.

He started the third quarter by converting a four-point play, as he was fouled while sinking his fifth three-pointer of the contest. Berg followed that up with a steal and layup to give the Tigers a 38-25 lead with 6:44 left in the period.

A follow-up basket by Hotchkins then made the score 40-25.

Fishback ended the Tigard run with a basket on a drive to the hoop, but the Tigers quickly took off again.

Tigard scored nine unanswered points, five by Hotchkins, to ope up a 49-27 lead with 2:00 left in the quarter. The Tigers would go on to hold a 53-31 advantage at the end of the period.

Tigard continued rolling in the fourth quarter, scoring 13 straight points after Tualatin got a layup by senior Logan Wiersma.

Hotchkins capped off the 13-0 run with a three-pointer play, which gave Tigard its biggest lead of the game, at 66-33, with 4:47 left in the contest. From there, the Tigers cruised to the 71-43 victory.

“I think the loss put some fire into us,” Berg said. “It carried over.”

“I think this game was important to us,” Hotchkins said. “We played with a lot more energy than last night. In the second half, we really came out with a lot of energy. This was really fun, especially after the loss.”

Berg, who scored all 20 of his points in the first three quarters of the game, also had four rebounds, three steals and a pair of assists.

Senior Elijah Simon added 16 points and five rebounds in addition to playing a strong defensive game.

“Elijah stepped up and really did a good job,” Alderman said.

Hotchkins, who also had nine rebound, scored all 14 of his points in the second half.

“I don't know where that came from,” he said with a smile.

Johnson, despite seeing limited minutes due to foul trouble, had eight points and six rebounds.

In Johnson's absence, Tigard got some strong minutes from senior Niko Niblack, especially on the defensive end of the court.

“Niko really stepped up on defense,” Hotchkins said.

For the game, Tigard made 27 of 46 shots from the field. The Tigers shot at a 14-for-23 clip in the second half.

Osborn, Bennett and Fishback led Tualatin with seven points apiece. Senior Taylor Boos added six points.

“We just didn't make enough plays to win,” Fishback said. “We took shots we shouldn't have taken. When we were winning, the difference was our defense. Compare the points we gave up in our winning streak to tonight. But I think we'll play well from here on out.”

Both teams will be back in action on Friday. Tigard will play at Newberg at 7:15 p.m. and Tualatin will be home to face McMinnville at 7:15 p.m.

For a more complete story, and more photos, see the Feb. 20 issue of The Times.

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