Wolves battle strong in playoff loss
Central Catholic fights off Tualatin for a 60-51 win
PORTLAND The Tualatin High School boys basketball team insists that it wasn't intimidated.
The Timberwolves also say that they truly believed that they were going to win.
They certainly seemed determined.
They weren't about to give up.
And their persistence almost paid off.
Tualatin, battling back from behind over and over again threw a scare into a talented, highly regarded Central Catholic squad before falling 60-51 to the Rams in a Class 6A state playoff first-round game played Wednesday at Central Catholic High School.
They came in expecting to roll on us, said Tualatin sophomore Danté Reid, who led the Wolves with 17 points in the contest. We showed that we could hang with them.
Coming into it, they thought it wouldn't be a battle, Tualatin junior Jacob Bennett said. But we always compete 100 percent. They're a good team, but, before the game, I told (Tualatin senior guard) Joey (Fishback) that I expected us to win. We just couldn't get over the hump.
Central Catholic, the Mt. Hood Conference champion, improved to 16-9 on the season with the win, its 12th straight. The Rams also advanced to host Tigard in a second round state playoff contest on Saturday.
Tualatin, which was looking to score a first-round state playoff road victory for the third straight year, finished its season with a final overall record of 14-11.
There was some stuff we wanted to accomplish this season, Bennett said. But the end of the season, I think the team was doing real well. We had some younger guys who got some great experience this year.
We started off shaky, Reid said. But, once we got used to playing varsity, we got going. We all got it together. It was a fun season. This is a great group of guys.
Central Catholic, in Wednesday's contest, took its first lead of the game, at 3-1, when junior post Patrick Myers scored on a short-range turnaround jumper with 6 minutes and 45 seconds left in the first quarter.
The Rams would keep the lead the rest of the game, but they were never able to put the Timberwolves away.
The home team, after taking its initial lead, quickly pushed the margin to 11-4. But Tualatin answered with a three-pointer by Fishback to cut the lead to 11-7 with 34 seconds left in the opening period. Central Catholic, getting a late bucket by sophomore La'Mar Winston, would go on to take a 13-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Rams would try to pull away from Tualatin throughout the second quarter, only to watch the Wolves battle back.
Central Catholic went up 19-11 when Winston came up with a steal and layup with 4:47 left in the period. But, just 20 seconds later, Bennett sank a three-pointer off an assist from senior Taylor Boos.
The Rams came back with back-to-back baskets by junior guard Deante Strickland to take a 23-16 lead. But the Wolves came back again, with Reid connecting on consecutive short-range jumpers to cut the margin to 23-20 with 2:25 left in the half.
The Rams push their lead to 30-22 in the final minute of the quarter. But Bennett sank a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the corner, off a pass from senior Brandon Shroyer, to make the score 30-25 at the intermission.
The Rams seemed to regain momentum in the third quarter. Consecutive baskets by Winston, Myers and Strickland gave Central Catholic its biggest lead of the game to that point, at 40-29, with 2:11 left to play in the period.
Tualatin battled back again, getting back-to-back layups from Reid to trim the margin to 40-33. But Strickland answered back. He went 1 for 2 from the free throw line with 1:07 left in the period and then he drilled a three-pointer with 4 seconds remaining to give the Rams a 44-33 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Another Strickland three-pointer gave Central Catholic a 47-35 advantage with 6:37 left to play. But, again, Tualatin came storming back.
The Wolves got a three-pointer by Bennett and then four more points, coming on free throws by sophomore Luke Osborn, Boos and Fishback, to trim the margin to 47-42 with 4:37 remaining.
But the Rams didn't led Tualatin get any closer.
Strickland scored seven points in the final 2:46 of the contest to help Central Catholic close out the 60-51 victory.
We did a good job fighting back, Bennett said. But they're a real good team. They're very athletic and they outplayed us tonight.
It was heart and desire, Reid said. We really wanted to play Tigard.
Reid scored 11 of his team-high 17 points in the second half of the contest.
Bennett added 12 points, 10 rebounds and three steals. Fishback had nine points and six rebounds. Boos had three points and three steals.
Tualatin, as a team, made 16 of 42 shots from the field. The Wolves were also plagued by 22 turnovers in the contest.
Strickland led all scorers with 22 points. Myers and Winston each added 11 points for the Rams.
The playoff loss marked the final high school game for Tualatin seniors Logan Wiersma, Cooper Brunner, Shroyer and Boos.
The seniors united us, Reid said.
Tualatin potentially could have a strong group of returnees next year, when it moves to the Three Rivers League.
I'm looking forward to it, Reid said. I think we can do good things.
I'm excited for next year, Bennett said. I think we can compete better.