Gervais rallies from 9-0 deficit to take second half lead before Rams go on late run to win

PHIL HAWKINS - Gervais junior Pedro Villegas connected on three of the Cougars' 10 3-pointers in the team's 71-55 loss to the Regis Rams on Thursday.
It's a common saying in basketball: You live by the 3, you die by the 3. It's a philosophy that the Gervais boys basketball team is more than happy to embrace.

After all, with most of their players standing somewhere between 5-foot-6 and 6-foot-1, the Cougars enter just about every game undersized. What else is there to do but pound teams from beyond the arc?

"We have to, because we don't have the height," Gervais head coach Ben Schultz said. "We work on that every day in practice. Everyone takes 3s. One through five, everyone on my starting lineup has the green light to shoot a 3-point shot if they're open."

This isn't the only aspect of the Gervais offense, just a facet of a larger fast-paced system that's designed to move the ball around as quickly as possible to find the open man, whether they're under the basket or in the corner.

"We emphasize moving the ball, and if we can cut backdoor, then we'll get there," Schultz said. "We have some guys who can really get up and down the floor quick, and if we can get an open lay-in, we're going to. But if we have an open shot, we're going to take it."

When the Cougars are on target, it can be a delight to witness, as it was on Thursday against the Regis Rams. After falling behind 9-0 early, Gervais unleashed a barrage of 3-pointers and quick possessions that led to lay-ins, cutting to within 24-22 in the second quarter before entering halftime tied 36-36.

The Cougars took their only lead of the game coming out of the half with a 3-point shot to make it 39-36, but the Rams quickly fought back, going on a 19-3 run to take a double-digit lead. Gervais entered the fourth quarter down 55-44 and simply didn't have the legs to rally. The shots stopped falling, and without two of their key rotation guys in Noel Vasquez and Alex Kalugin, the Cougars didn't keep pace and fell 71-55.

"We just couldn't keep up," Schultz said. "We got out of our element and just didn't make shots, but we played well. They're getting better. Every game we're in it, and that's all I can ask."

The final box score was indicative of the Cougars' run-and-gun style of play. Gervais sank 10 3-pointers and had 15 more points off of free throws. Of the team's 55 points, only 10 came off of two-point field goals.

"If it doesn't fall, it doesn't fall, but it's a gamble we have to take," Schultz said. "This game we were in it and hopefully we just keep getting better.

Elvis Vallejo led the team with 16 points, while Pedro Villegas added 14, including three triples. Armando Tarula and Daniel Hernandez also hit a pair of 3s in the loss.

After a week off, the Cougars (1-7) will finish the month this week at the Salem Academy Tournament on Thursday through Saturday. Gervais then opens league play on Jan. 3 at Scio High School, one of three straight road games to open 2018.

Phil Hawkins can be reached at 503-765-1194 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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