Tualatin falls 98-82 in the state playoff second-round clash

CEDAR MILL — As usual, the Timberwolves ran.

They battled.

And they pressed.

But, sometimes, all of that running, battling and pressing isn’t enough when you go up a squad that just doesn’t seem to miss a shot.

Unfortunately for the Tualatin High School boys basketball team, that’s the situation they ran into Friday night — with a state tourney bid on the DAN BROOD - UP AND AWAY -- Tualatin High School senior Randall Tainer (25) goes up strong to the basket during the second half of the Timberwolves' state playoff game at Sunset.

The Timberwolves saw their season come to an end with a 98-82 loss to a hot-shooting Sunset team in a Class 6A state tournament second-round game played Friday at Sunset High. The Apollos sank 13 three-point baskets in the contest, including 11 in their amazing first-half offensive performance.

“They came out on fire,” said Tualatin senior Connor Scott, who led all scorers in the contest with 31 points. “Credit to them. They came out and executed well.”

Sunset, which tied for the No. 4 spot in the Metro League, improved to 16-10 on the season with the win. The Apollos also claimed a spot in the Class 6A state tournament, which started Wednesday at the Rose Garden. Sunset was scheduled to face Metro League foe Jesuit in a tournament quarterfinal game on Wednesday. Results of that game weren’t available when the Times went to press.

Tualatin, the No. 3 team out of the Pacific Conference, finished its season with a final overall record of 16-9.

“It was an incredible year,” Tualatin senior Junior Okon said. “I think we opened a new era here, and we came together as a team.”

“Oh gosh, this season went way better than expected,” Scott said. “I was extremely proud of every player. Everyone competed every day.”

And the Wolves seemed to compete from start to finish of Friday’s game at Sunset.

Tualatin took an early 5-4 lead behind a three-point basket by sophomore Jacob Bennett and a layup by Scott.

After Sunset came back to take charge or most of the first quarter, the Wolves came storming back again. Okon sank a short-range shot and senior C.J. Michael followed with a foul-line jumper to give Tualatin a 17-15 lead with 2 minutes and 41 seconds left in the opening DAN BROOD - STAYING STRONG -- Tualatin senior Connor Scott looks to battle to the basket. Scott scored 31 points in the playoff loss at Sunset.

But then, the Apollos started to find their shooting touch.

Senior Daniel Duitsman ignited things for the Apollos with back-to-back three-pointers that helped the home team rally to take a 23-19 lead going into the second quarter.

And that’s where Sunset really caught fire.

Tualatin opened the period with a basket on a drive to the hoop by senior Randall Tainer. Duitsman answered that by again sinking back-to-back three-pointers, both coming from the left corner off assists by senior Joe McFerrin III, giving the Apollos a 29-21 lead with 6:57 left in the half.

Tualatin would come back to cut the margin to 31-28 on a jump shot by senior Michael, but the Apollos took off again.

Sunset senior Tyler Gutierrez scored on a layup, sophomore Willy Pflug had a pair of three-point baskets and McFerrin added a three-pointer of his own to up the lead to 42-30 with 4:13 left in the first half.

The Apollos got even hotter from there.

Sunset scored 21 points in the final 3:10 of the second quarter, getting eight points from senior center Adam Mead, two three-point baskets by McFerrin and a three-pointer from senior Jonathan Willies in that span.

Tualatin, with Scott and Michael each scoring six points, tallied 23 points in the quarter, but Sunset, behind its scoring spree, claimed a 63-42 halftime lead. For the first half, the Apollos made 26 of 34 shots from the field with 11 three-pointers. In the second quarter alone, they shot at a 16-for-21 clip from the field with eight three-point baskets.

The Wolves tried to fight back in the third quarter. Scott scored nine points in the period, Michael added seven points and senior Scott Allred and sophomore Steven Shockloss each sank a three-pointer, but Tualatin still found itself trailing 86-65 going into the fourth quarter.

The Wolves kept battling in the final stanza. They went on an 11-2 run that included a pair of baskets by Scott, a three-pointer by Bennett and hoops by freshman Luke Osborn and senior Jon Fishback to trim the lead to 90-76 with 3:18 left.

Tualatin got the lead down to 13, at 93-80, when Scott scored with 1:06 left in the game. But the Wolves couldn’t get any closer as Sunset closed out its win.

“We battled to the end,” Scott said. “At halftime, the coaches told us to never give up, and we took to heart. Every single player put all their heart into it. There’s no quit in us, and I’m really proud of that.”

Scott scored his game-high 31 points on a 12-for-21 shooting night from the field. He also had eight rebounds and three assists. Michael scored 21 points. Bennett had nine points, four rebounds and four steals. Allred had seven points.

The playoff loss marked the final high school game for Tualatin seniors Allred, Jon Fishback, Jack McDonnell, Tainer, Michael, Scott and Okon.

“It was extremely special to us,” Scott said. “This team really bonded and I made some lifelong friends.”

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