Boys basketball: Tigard hopes its hustle and attitude leads it to a top spot in Pacific play
by: DAN BROOD, FLYIN’ RYAN — Tigard High School senior Ryan Gorton, shown here in a game earlier this season, is one of the top returnees for the Tigers this season.

TIGARD - Hard work and hustle.

Those things certainly can be crucial.

The Tigard High School boys basketball team is hoping that those factors can offset some liabilities - such as a lack of height.

The Tigers may be overmatched in the height department in many games this year, but that's not stopping them from being optimistic with Pacific Conference play right around the corner.

'We're undersized, but the kids are really working hard,' Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said. 'And they've got a great attitude. Everyday they're out there excited to be playing. We really like our team.'

The Tigers do return some key players from last year's Tigard squad that finished second in the Pacific Conference standings at 11-4 while putting together an overall record of 18-9.

Among the top returnees is senior wing Ryan Gorton (6-foot-2). Last year, as a junior, Gorton earned first-team all-Pacific Conference honors when he scored at a 10.0 clip in league play.

'He's a phenomenal athlete and a great kid,' Alderman said. 'His leadership this year has just been unbelievable.'

Another varsity returnee, senior post Kyle Figura (6-3), saw plenty of action last year. He scored at an average of 6.3 points a game in Pacific Conference play as a junior when he was an honorable mention all-league pick.

Gorton and Figura, who is in his fourth year on the varsity, will likely be looked upon to carry the scoring load for the Tigers this year.

'When we need a big bucket, we'll look to those two guys,' Alderman said.

Junior wing Matt Alexander (6-3) could also give Tigard a scoring spark this season. Alexander earned a spot on the Tiger varsity last year as a sophomore and he looks to have earned a key role with the team this year.

Another varsity returnee from a year ago, junior Kyle Gustafson (6-1), should see plenty of time at a wing spot.

Senior Isaiah Ferrer also returns and, so far this season, he has given the Tigers a strong scoring punch off the bench.

'He's close to starting, but it's nice knowing we can bring someone off the bench and get some offense like that,' Alderman said.

Another returnee, senior post David Walker (6-2), also looks to have stepped up his game this season.

'He's probably our most improved player,' Alderman said.

At the point guard spot, Tigard will have senior newcomer Derek Alik (5-9), who transferred to the school from Hawaii.

'He's got a great work ethic,' Alderman said.

Sophomore Jalen Caolie (5-10), who played strong at both ends of the court in a win over Lincoln earlier this season, will also see action at the point.

In the post, Tigard also will have senior Spencer Patterson, who played for the Tiger junior varsity squad a year ago. At 6-foot-6, Patterson is the tallest player on the Tigard varsity.

Other players on the Tigard varsity team include sophomore Ian McGetrick (6-1), junior Tommy Mackenzie (6-1), senior Ryan Figura (6-1) and sophomore Curtis Middleton (6-3).

'I'd have to say that our strength is our defense,' Alderman said. 'And we're able to have different guys step up each night on offense.'

As for the Pacific Conference, Alderman sees a close, entertaining battle for the top spots.

'You have to look at Canby and Tualatin,' he said. 'We hope to be able to compete with them. I think it's going to be a great league this year and a lot of fun. On any given night any team could beat any other.'

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