by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Barlow High graduate Corey Nielson awaits an inbounds pass during the first half of Saturdays three-point win over Bellingham.

Portland guard Ryan Scott heats up from long-range to spark comeback

CLACKAMAS - The Portland Chinooks erased a 16-point third-quarter deficit to knock off Bellingham 132-129 in a battle of division leaders in International Basketball League action Saturday.

Ryan Scott started the comeback by hitting a trio of 3-pointers within a two-minute stretch. His deep ball from the corner cut the gap to 86-80 midway through the third quarter. Portland pulled even moments later when Terrence Two Two forced a turnover at midcourt and fed the ball ahead to Everett Spencer for a breakaway layin.

The Chinooks took their first lead since the first quarter when Germain Jordan tossed an alley-oop to Spencer to make it 94-93.

The lead switched hands a few times early in the fourth period before Scott found his stroke from beyond the arc once more, knocking down a pair of 3s to put the Chinooks ahead for good 111-104.

"We were moving the ball better in the second have and seemed to find our flow - we were scoring with more ease," Portland assistant Trev Kiser said. "We switched out of our zone to more man defense and started rebounding the ball better."

Already missing several starters on the night, Portland took another hit with Jared Cunningham fouled out with 5:30 to play. Bellingham closed in down the stretch, making it a single-possession game in the final minutes.

Scott gave Portland it's final basket at the two-minute mark, driving inside and putting a 10-footer through off the backboard for a 132-128 lead.

That would prove to be just enough.

Bellingham gave itself a final chance when Morris Anderson drew a charging foul in the backcourt. The Slam's Jared Stevenson got off a pair of 3-point shots that would have tied the score, but each clipped the front of the rim instead.

Barlow High graduate Corey Nielson secured the Chinooks victory when he went high to grab a long rebound and simply tossed the ball toward the far basket, allowing the final seconds to tick away as the ball bounced harmlessly down the floor.

"His last shot looked good. I thought it was going in," Nielson said. "But when it came back out to me, I knew there couldn't be much time left, so I just tossed it down the court and let the time run out."

Portland (13-4) and Bellingham (15-3) have clinched first-round byes for this week's six-team IBL tournament hosted by the Slam. The league semifinals will be played Friday with the championship game set for 5 p.m. Sunday.

"They beat us at their place earlier in the year, so we felt like we owed them one," Scott said. "We wanted people to know that we can play with anyone in the league. Our confidence is pretty high right now."

The Chinooks have won eight straight.

The teams traded the lead five times in the first quarter before Bellingham opened up a double-digit lead early in the second when Anderson got loose on a fastbreak down the middle of the court, faking a pass right before stepping left to beat the Portland defender to the rim.

Portland coach Terrance Dickens was hit with a pair of technical fouls and sent to the locker room just before halftime after a controversy over the number of fouls called against Bellingham starter Paul Hafford.

Bellingham took its biggest lead of the night 82-66 early in the second half when Anderson drove the left side, drew contact and hit an acrobatic shot while falling to the floor for a three-point play. He led the Slam with 34 points.

Spencer poured in a game-high 36 for the Chinooks, while Scott added 33.

Portland finishes the regular season at 7 p.m. Tuesday at home against the Nippon Tornadoes out of Japan. The Chinooks play their home games at the 212 Sports Complex in Clackamas.

Jared Cunningham takes aim at a foul shot during Saturdays 132-129 win over Bellingham. The Chinooks have a bye into the IBL semifinals this weekend in Bellingham, Wash.â–  Portland held off Salem 123-121 on Friday night, getting a team-high 31 points from Cunningham, along with 25 points apiece from Spencer and Scott.

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