Sherwood, after opening loss, blows past Bend 59-34

by: DAN BROOD - GET IT INSIDE -- Sherwood High School junior point guard Evan Kitto (1) passes the ball inside against the Bend defense in Friday's Class 5A state tournament consolation quarterfinal. EUGENE — It all came down to this.

Win, and move on.

Lose, and pack away the gear and go home.

And there was no way that the Sherwood High School boys basketball team was ready to go home.

Thanks to an amazing start, and an overall strong performance, the Bowmen kept their season alive.

The determined Sherwood squad, scoring 11 straight point to start the game, dominated from nearly start to finish on its way to posting a 59-34 win over Bend in a Class 5A state tournament consolation semifinal game played Friday at the Matthew Knight Arena.

“That felt good,” said Sherwood senior forward Lucas Johnson, who led all scorers in the contest with 21 points. “We didn’t want to go home yet.”

“This was really big for us,” Sherwood junior guard Evan Kitto said. “We needed this.”

“I’m a competitive person,” Bowmen senior post Jordan Kurahara said. “Losing is the worst feeling. It pushes you to win. We really didn’t want to be two-and-out.”

Bend, the No. 2 team out of the Intermountain Conference, finished its season with a final overall record of 17-9.

Sherwood, the Northwest Oregon Conference champion, improved to 21-5 on the season with the victory. More importantly for the Bowmen, who fell 56-47 to Madison in a tourney game last Thursday, they kept their season alive, moving on to face rival Wilsonville in Saturday’s state tournament fourth-place game.

by: DAN BROOD - TAKING CHARGE -- Sherwood senior Cortland Hutchison powers his way past a Bend defender and looks inside during the Bowmen's victory Friday in a state tournament consolation semifinal game. “This sure beats the alternative,” Sherwood coach Tony Merrill said. “It’s a good feeling. The kids worked really hard for this.”

“We told ourselves to put that bad game in the past,” Kitto said. “We had to move on.”

“Yesterday, I felt like we gave it away,” Kurahara said. “Today, we bounced back. We wanted to show the state what we can really do.”

The Bowmen most likely made believers out of Bend — right from the start of Friday’s 10:45 a.m. contest.

“We woke up early and had a nice breakfast,” Johnson said with a smile. “We were ready to go.”

Were they ever.

Kurahara scored on a drive to the hoop to give the Bowmen a 2-0 lead with 6 minutes and 56 seconds left in the first quarter. That seemed to ignite a big Sherwood run.

Johnson followed with a layup off an assist from Kurahara, Kitto scored on a full-court drive, Johnson drilled a three-pointer from the right corner off a pass from senior Cortland Hutchison and Kitto came up with a steal and layup to give Sherwood an 11-0 lead with 2:22 left in the opening period.

“We came out fired up,” Kurahara said. “Everything was working. We were playing with confidence.”

by: DAN BROOD - LOOKING FOR TWO -- Sherwood junior Ben Milligan gets ready to go to the basket in the Bowmen's win over Bend.Bend, which missed its first seven shots from the field while turning the ball over six times against Sherwood’s pressure defense, got on the scoreboard on a layup by senior Steffan Kearsley to end the opening period.

But the Lava Bears couldn’t carry over any momentum into the second quarter. The Bowmen and Johnson made sure of that.

Johnson scored 13 points in the period, seven coming in the first 1:18 of the quarter, helping Sherwood push the lead to 18-5 at that point.

He ended up sinking three three-point baskets in the quarter, two coming off assists from senior Keegan Lawrence, leading the Bowmen to a 33-17 halftime advantage.

“Everyone was hitting me, and I was able to knock down the shots,” Johnson said. “Keegan told me to go out there, and he’d get me the ball.”

Kurahara scored six points in the third quarter. Lawrence added a put-back basket and Johnson had a pair of free throws in the period.

Bend, with senior Wyatt Beaumarchais sinking a three-pointer, was able to trim the Sherwood lead to 43-28 going into the fourth quarter. But the Lava Bears weren’t able to get any closer than that.

Sherwood, with Kurahara, Johnson, junior Ben Milligan, Kitto and senior guard Alex Castaneda all scoring, opened the final stanza with a 10-1 run, making the score 53-29 with 3:58 remaining.

From there, the Bowmen cruised to the decisive 59-34 victory.

“We got back to the way we play,” Johnson said.

“That was a lot of fun — it was fun to go out and play our game,” Kitto said.

“The team played really well together,” Merrill said. “We hit some early shots, and that really helped. We played well on defense all game.”

by: DAN BROOD - STILL GOING -- The Bowmen walk off the court following their state tournament win over Bend.Johnson scored 18 of his game-high 21 points in the first half. He made seven of his 11 shots from the field.

Kurahara had 16 points, also on 7 for 11 shooting, to go with four blocked shots.

Kitto scored nine points while coming up with five steals on defense.

“I was ball-hungry,” he said with a smile.

Milligan had seven points while also tying Kitto for team-high rebounding honors with five. Lawrence had a game-high four assists.

Sherwood, as a team, made 23 of 40 shots from the field in the victory. The Bowmen also outrebounded Bend by a 26-18 margin.

Beaumarchais led Bend with eight points. The Lava Bears made just 12 of 39 shots from the field against the Sherwood defense.

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