Nathan Hunter nearly brings Lions back from deficit

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Gage Bumgardner leans in for a shot during last week's play-in game with Summit.If only the last three quarters of Tuesday’s 5A basketball play-in game had counted, the St. Helens Lions would have beaten visiting Summit by a point.

Alas, all four quarters count and the Lions had such a horrendous beginning at the basket that they never really recovered.

“I was disappointed (in the outcome),” St. Helens Coach Jerry Allen said afterwards. “They played hard, but not hard the whole time. They made a lot of mistakes.”

The Lions’ senior post Nathan Hunter played solid in the middle both shooting and rebounding and also hit some outside shots, but it wouldn’t be enough. Hunter scored a career-best 23 points in his last game, providing almost half of the Lions’ points.

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Nathan Hunter was a big part of the Lions' offense in their last few games.“He came to play,” Allen said. “It was his best game. If I had been a little smarter, I would have told him to shoot outside earlier in the season. He actually scores better on the outside than in. He’s probably our best perimeter shooter.”

It wasn’t a matter of being overwhelmed by the Storm, nor controlling the ball. The Lions had several early chances, taking the ball to the hoop but it wouldn’t drop. Before the Lions knew what hit them they were down 14-0.

A three by Hunter with just 1:22 left in the first period were the first points St. Helens put on the scoreboard. Corey West put back a rebound for the only other points in the period. By quarter’s end the Lions were in deep trouble, trailing 17-5.

It was Hunter scoring three two-pointers, plus a three, that provided the Lions with nine of their 11 points in the second period. While the Lions scored just 11, they managed to curb Summit’s scoring and the hole didn’t get much deeper.

The Lions surged to start the second half and had fans wondering if a comeback was possible. It was Hunter again with three field goals to start the half, plus a free throw from Tanner Long that trimmed the Storm lead by seven. The Lions trailed by just six.

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Tanner Long goes up for a shot during last week's play-in game with Summit.Summit wouldn’t score until 2:34 remained and hit five points. A foul and subsequent technical for objecting resulted in four more points, all within the last 10 seconds.

Summit connected on a deuce and four free throws to make it a 20-point margin early in the fourth. The Lions seemed doomed, but they made another run and it made Summit more than a little nervous.

The game got interesting. Freshman Quintin Galvin started the run with a three, then Long hit a deuce and two free throws. Galvin hit another trey, and Hunter added his own. The Lions were down by nine. Summit added two more free throws—they were 15 of 19 in the period. Another basket by Hunter and a three by Jared Bonney pared the lead to just six. The two squads traded free throws, but Summit then hit just one free throw of two, and Long sank a quick bucket to make it a five-point game with just 1:12 left.

The Lions couldn’t get closer and wouldn’t get a break on calls. A couple calls the other way and they might have made it more interesting. Some unforced turnovers also hurt them in the end.

Summit would score the last four points for the final margin.

“All in all I’m proud of them,” Allen noted. “In terms of what we wanted to do they’ve been given some quality instruction and it was a matter of going out and doing it. They come to practice and put out their best effort. I wouldn’t question their integrity on how hard they played—sometimes we had lapses and didn’t play up to our ability. They did what we asked them to do.”

“I never really knew how many we had won or loss,” Allen added. “We concentrated on how well we played together as a team. If we do that the wins will come. I was more worried about how we played together, getting everybody on the same page, and executing.”

He continued, “Overall the season was pretty positive. We showed improvement. Losing (Jake) Ramiskey hurt us. We were anticipating playing one way and had to play another way. He would have added another dimension we could have used at times. The other guys had to step up and sometimes they did. They learned how to fight and scrap.”

The Lions will lose five seniors from the team, four of them starters, but Allen feels he has some good returning players, some up and coming jayvees, and some potential incoming freshman that will contribute next season.

“We’ve got to have a really good summer and these guys have to understand that they are stepping into different roles. We’re going to stress toughness and confidence. I expect big things out of “Q” (Quintin Galvin). He’s only going to get better and I have him for three more years.”

He said players like Justin Helgerson, Michael Enyart, Adam Spencer and others should be able to help. He expects players to commit to the program and said they will concentrate on weight training as well.

The Storm will take on No. 1-ranked Churchill in the 16-team bracket. The winner of that moves on to the final bracket to be played at Knight Arena in Eugene. Other Northwest Oregon Conference teams—Milwaukie, Sandy, Sherwood, and Wilsonville also made the state bracket. Milwaukie and Sandy advanced via their top eight ranking.


Summit 61, St. Helens 50

Summit 17 12 9 23—61

St. Helens 5 11 8 26—50

Summit (61)—Nick Moyer 20, Austin Peters 14, Cade Catt ell 13, Mullen, Rasmussen 4, Lucas 3, Menominee 1, Shingling, Britches, Reeves.

St. Helens (50)—Nathan Hunter 23, Tanner Long 11, Q. Galvin 6, Beisley 3, Bonney 3, C. Galvin 2, West 2, Dummer, Bumgardner, JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Corey West slices along the baseline for a shot during last week's play-in game.

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