In game one of the Varsity double-header against West Linn, the Tualatin boys team suffered their fourth loss of the league, scoring 51-69 and falling to a 4 – 4 league record (10 – 10 overall). The rematch had been much anticipated for the Wolves after what they learned in round one.
“We had a chip on our shoulder, especially me, they beat us by 21 last time,” Malik Ross (#11) said. “I was more fired up and prepared. Beating West Linn is always awesome, even if we didn’t lose the first time.”
“We thought that if we could improve from how we played last time then we could come out and beat them especially since their last outing with Tigard,” Sam Noland (#12) said.
The Lions were coming off of a 74-84 loss to the Tigers who the Wolves took down 60-45 in a fierce rivalry game.
Still, this game got off to a rocky start for both teams. At the first attempt of a tip-off, West Linn jumped early, this was shortly followed by both teams jumping for the ball early and then again. Finally, on the fourth try, the game began.
West Linn held the early lead with a couple three-point field goals, but Ross brought it back with his first-quarter performance bringing five points to the board. “I came out strong, then I got a little loose and it just didn’t end well,” Ross said.
With the end of the first period, the score began to tilt in the Lions’ favor (13-14) and by the half, they held a decent seven-point lead. “We didn’t rebound and we didn’t shoot well, that’s the best way to summarize it,” Noland said.
Halfway through quarter-three and the team was finally able to build some momentum with Ross on a two-point, Noah Ogoli (#3) on a three-point and Noland on a two-point; all in quick succession. It was enough for West Linn to call a 60-second timeout.
Despite the team in a constant battle to keep up with the Lions, they still managed to be blistering with energy and delivering powerful shots. Ross said, “our leaders are John Miller and Sam Noland. It’s their senior year so they’re going to go all out and we’re going to go all out too regardless if I’m a sophomore.”
With the game resumed, West Linn took back their dominance but in a strange occurrence, Noland found himself awfully open. Enough time to receive a pass, stop, look down for the three-point line, take a small step back, jump up and sink a three. But by then, West Linn held a 12-point lead and the rim seemed to be forcibly refusing shots from the Wolves.
“Their zone defense, it was unexpected, we didn’t plan for that at all and they’re big, we had a hard time defending them; we couldn’t box them out,” Noland explained.
The game had run its course with an 18-point deficit for Tualatin. Although another tough loss against West Linn, they’re ready for future matchups.
“I know we have to focus on one game at a time, but we’re still looking ahead at the playoffs. We still got to win these games to get there and we don’t want to fall short of the playoffs,” Ross said.
The team remains on the edge of automatic qualification for playoffs in March which they participated in the 2018-2019 season but fell to Sandy in round one. They still have four games left in the regular season, all of which they took down in round one of league play.
“I think we’ll bounce back, you know we bounced back in the last round of league play and won four straight, so I expect that’s what we’re going to do again. I don’t think anybody should expect anything less,” Noland remarked.