Tigard has the hot hand in its win over the Timberwolves

by: DAN BROOD - IN THE AIR -- Tigard senior guard Evan Garrison goes up to the basket during the Tigers' win over Tualatin.TIGARD — There was no doubt.

No question.

And no argument.

In the spirited battle between the Tigard and Tualatin high school boys basketball teams, the Tigers ruled — for this night, at least.

Tigard, behind some brilliant efficiency on offense and its usual brand of hard-nosed defense, powered its way to a 78-59 win over the rival Timberwolves in a Pacific Conference game played Friday in front of a large, loud crowd at Tigard High School.

“This is huge. It’s awesome,” said Tigard junior wing Nick Kaelin, who led all scorers with 23 points. “We really wanted this. The whole week, we prepared hard for this game. We were ready.”

“It’s a great win,” said Tigard senior post Will Schaer. “We were looking forward to this game for a long time. I think this was our most complete game.”

There’s probably no dispute about that from Tualatin’s side.

“Tigard played a real good game,” Tualatin senior guard Scott Allred said. “They executed better than we did. They put us in our place. It was a rough night. It was a nightmare.”

With the setback, the Wolves moved to 2-1 in Pacific Conference play and to 7-5 on the season to that DAN BROOD - TO THE HOOP -- Tualatin High School sophomore post Jacob Bennett (43) looks to go up to the basket against Tigard senior Will Schaer.

Tigard improved to 6-7 on the season while also improving to 3-0 in Pacific Conference play, putting the Tigers in a tie with Century for first place in the league standings to that point.

“That’s awesome,” Kaelin said of the Tigers’ 3-0 start in league play. “We really want to go for the league championship. That’s our goal.”

If the Tigers keep playing like they did in Friday’s game with Tualatin, they’ll likely have a good chance at achieving that goal.

In Friday’s contest, Tigard shot at a 32-for-53 (60.4 percent) clip from the field while also outrebounding the Timberwolves by a 33-19 margin.

“We’ve been working on getting smarter shots,” Kaelin said. “And we really worked hard on defending them.”

Tigard, which never trailed in the game, jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, getting back-to-back baskets from Kaelin and senior guard Evan Garrison to start the contest.

The Wolves did come back to tie the game, at 8-8 with 3 minutes and 1 second left in the first quarter, following consecutive hoops by senior C.J. Michael.

But Tigard took control after that.

Tiger junior wing Nathanael Ditton sank a three-pointer and had a follow-up bucket and Schaer added a pair of hoops, all coming in the final 2:32 of the period, to give Tigard a 19-14 lead going into the second quarter.

Garrison and Kaelin took over from there.

They each scored 12 points in the second quarter, with Kaelin sinking a pair of three-pointers in the period, helping Tigard up the margin to 46-29 at halftime. Tigard, as a team, made 10 of 12 shots from the field in the quarter.

The Tigers’ lead may have been even bigger if it wasn’t for some prolific outside shooting by Tualatin. The Wolves made only five baskets in the second quarter, but all five were from three-point range. Sophomore Jacob Bennett had two long-range baskets for the Tualatin in the period while Allred, senior Jack McDonnell and junior Joey Fishback added one three-pointer apiece.

Tualatin kept trying to battle back early in the third quarter. Timberwolf senior Connor Scott had a layup and a pair of free throws to start the period. Tigard senior Conner Olson and McDonnell then traded three-pointers, giving the Tigers a 49-36 lead with 5:47 left in the quarter.

Tigard, behind a 6-0 run that included baskets by Kaelin, Schaer and Olson, pulled away again, upping its advantage to 55-36.

But the Wolves wouldn’t quit. Tualatin got a three-pointer by junior Taylor Boos and baskets by Michael and McDonnell late in the period to make the score 60-45 going into the fourth DAN BROOD - QUICK NICK -- Tigard High School junior Nick Kaelin goes to the basket between Tualatin seniors Jon Fishback (13) and Jack McDonnell in Friday's game. Kaelin scored 23 points in the Tigers' victory.

Allred came up with a steal and layup to start the fourth quarter, making the score 60-47. But the Wolves couldn’t get any closer.

Tigard pulled away again, getting consecutive baskets from Garrison, Ditton and junior Elijah Simon to push the lead to 66-47 with 6:11 left in the contest.

The Tigers would go on to open their biggest lead of the game, at 76-54, on a short-range jumper by Schaer coming with 1:37 remaining in the game. From there, the Tigers went on to wrap up the 78-59 victory.

“Going against Tualatin, we had some extra motivation,” Schaer said. “We hustled a lot on defense, and I think we held them to less than what they usually score.”

“We’re a well-rounded team,” Kaelin said. “We have confidence in everyone.”

In addition to Kaelin’s game-high 23 points, Tigard also got 18 points from Garrison, who made seven of eight shots from the field while also dishing off four assists.

Schaer had eight points, but maybe more importantly, were his game-high 11 rebounds.

“I knew that was something we needed,” he said.

Junior guard Bryan Berg also scored eight points for the Tigers while also having three assists. Olson and Ditton each scored seven points.

McDonnell led Tualatin with 10 points. Michael and Joey Fishback each scored eight points and Scott had seven.

The loss also had the Wolves looking to make amends.

“We’re a lot better than we showed tonight,” Allred said. “We just couldn’t get into rhythm. We’re better than that.”

Both teams picked up league victories on Tuesday.

Tualatin scored a 101-70 home victory over Newberg.

Michael paced the Wolves with 23 points in that game. Boos added 20 points while Scott and McDonnell each had 10.

Tigard posted a 66-54 win at McMinnville.

Berg had 20 points in the victory. Garrison scored 19 and Olson had 10.

Both of the local squads will be back in action on Friday. Tualatin will host Hillsboro and Tigard will travel to Century for 7:15 p.m. league games. On Tuesday, Tualatin will be home to play Century and Tigard will travel to Hillsboro in 7:15 p.m. league contests.

The Tigers and Timberwolves will have their rematch Feb. 1 at Tualatin High School.

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