Indians travel to No. 3-ranked La Salle in first state playoff game

by: JOHN BREWINGTON, SPOTLIGHT FILE PHOTO - Cowapa League player of the year Zach Smith and the rest of the Scappoose Indians will take on La Salle Friday night in a first-round 4A state playoff game.No one ever said it would be easy and the Scappoose Indians know they have their work cut out for them this Friday when they travel to La Salle Prep for their first-round 4A state basketball game.

The Tribe played a very tall La Salle team earlier in the season and it wasn’t pretty, a 60-27 loss.

However, the Scappoose Indians of the preseason have improved tremendously and expect to be in this contest.

“We didn’t play terrible (against La Salle),” Scappoose Coach Rahim Tufts said. “We shot poorly, just 17 percent for the game. Some of their points came on long rebounds and we weren’t able to get out in transition. They got some easy buckets and we turned the ball over a bit too much.”

The Falcons are third in the Oregon School Activities Association power rankings with the third best record (22-2) behind No. 2 North Valley (23-0), and No. 1 Cascade (23-1). Their only losses are to Cascade (61-51) and an overtime loss to Molalla (54-50 OT).by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Scappoose Coach Rahim Tufts, Cowapa League Coach of the Year, says the Tribe should play better this time against La Salle. They lost to the Falcons earlier in the season.

La Salle may be one of the overall tallest teams in the state in any classification. They have a 6-foot, 8-inch post, three players 6-5 or better, two at 6-4, one at 6-3, and two at 6-1, plus others at 5-11, 5-10, and 5-8.

The Indians are a little more vertically challenged, at least for basketball, with just two players over 6-0 among their most-played and the rest around 6-0. Starting guard Paul Revis is listed at a generous 5-10.

Still, Tufts and the Indians are not overwhelmed by the thought of playing La Salle.

“I feel good about our chances, knowing we can play a lot better (than our first meeting),” Tufts said.

Scappoose was without their now leading scorer, Zach Smith, for the first six games of the season and managed just a 2-4 record. They were just 5-11 heading into the 10-game league schedule.

The Indians would go 9-1 in league play, something that surprised even Tufts.

“I expected us to win the league, but didn't think we'd do it with nine wins,” the coach said after winning the title. For the second year in a row, Tufts was named Cowapa League Coach of the Year.

“La Salle’s height bothered us and it will probably bother us Friday, but we are going to attack it a bit differently,” Tufts said.

One factor in Scappoose's favor may be complacency. Will La Salle take Scappoose for granted?

“I hope so,” Tufts said. “La Salle is a heady group of kids and should be ready to play at home Friday. We're trying to stay sharp. We had a couple of scrimmages last week, did some shooting and tried to stay in shape. This week we'll focus on how we attack La Salle—what we do on offense.”

Scappoose's only loss in their last 10 games came at the hands of Yamhill-Carlton, back in January. Four of their last six games have been very close. The Indians have been calm, cool and collected in those games, playing very smart with the lead.

“I agree 100 percent,” Tufts said of the assessment. “Everybody's confident and contributing. The guys on the bench are coming in and playing better. We’re playing better as a team. Defensively we improved tremendously. In huddles during those close games, the guys know exactly what to do and execute that. They're a lot of fun to coach.”

The Indians are the last Cowapa League team left in the playoffs. Madras eliminated Astoria, 70-56, in a play-in game last Friday, while Newport nipped Yamhill-Carlton, 53-47.

The play-in winners now take on the league champions and the other highly-ranked teams that got a bye. The winners of Friday's games advance to the 16-team state playoff round at Gill Coliseum at Oregon State University in Corvallis.

Friday's games include:

A&B Bracket

Ridgeview @ Cascade

South Umpqua @ Elmira

Newport @ North Bend

Baker @ Philomath

C&D Bracket

Scappoose @ La Salle

Gladstone @ Central

Madras @ Sutherlin

Brookings-Harbor @ N. Valley

(Note: Teams are paired for state by the bracket. The winners of the top two will play as will the winners of the next two).

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