Mt. Hood salvages a .500 record in league, but misses the playoffs

by: THE POST: DAVID BALL - Mt. Hood center Thomas Simien fights his way to the basket during Saturdays 87-75 win over Linn-Benton.

The Mt. Hood CC men’s basketball team used a furious finish to the first half to knock off Linn-Benton 87-75 in Saturday’s season finale.

Deadlocked late in the first half, the Saints went on a 17-4 run to take a double-digit lead into the locker room. Playing his final game in a Saints uniform, center Mac Johnson, the team’s only sophomore, sparked the rally with back-to-back baskets in the paint.

On the next possession, teammate Blake Updike found himself holding the ball deep behind the 3-point line. He paused for a moment and when his defender stayed back, Updike launched a shot that ripped the net for a 34-25 lead.

Barlow High graduate Brock Otis kept up the pressure by dribbling in a semicircle that ended with him hitting a runner in the lane.

Linn-Benton had a chance for the last shot of the half, only to have the ball stolen away by Denzel Green. He had five seconds to dribble the length of the court. He got to the rim in four only to see his layup roll off the front of the rim. But Johnson was in position for the follow-up, rising high above the rim and tapping it back through at the buzzer.

The hustle play put the Saints up 40-27 at the break, and they would never be challenged in the second half.

Updike went 3 for 5 (.600) from beyond the arc to lead Mt. Hood with 19 points, while Landon Rushton and Johnson added 18 apiece.

The Saints (11-14) finished the season at .500 in league play, highlighting the year with a sweep of South Region champ Chemeketa.

Mt. Hood got off to a fast start Saturday, scoring on its first three possessions to blitz Linn-Benton 6-0 off the opening tip. Johnson highlighted the spurt when he blocked a shot at one end, and converted a basket at the other. He had four blocked shots for the game.

The Saints maintained a hot hand through the first 10 minutes (see shot chart), but early turnovers kept the game close midway through the first half.

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