Boys finish with split in Week 1 to open basketball season

Benny Westcott

Sweet Home boys basketball split a pair of games in its opening week of play, beating Elmira 33-31 on the road on Nov. 30 but falling to Cottage Grove 55-39 at home on Dec. 2.

The game against Elmira ended in dramatic fashion, as junior Nathan Aker hit a floater near the free throw line at the buzzer to win the game for the Huskies, halting a fourth-quarter surge for the Falcons.

“We did a clear-out for him to go with shooters in the corners, and he just went one-on-one,” Head Coach Drew Emmert said of the play. “He kind of got double teamed and kind of lost the ball, but then got it back and heaved it up at the free throw line, a little one-handed floater thing.”

Aker barely managed to shoot the ball before the clock expired. “It was so close,” Emmert said. “After I watched the replay I couldn’t even tell if it was good. He had just gotten it off.

“It was a fun way to start the season,” he said of the buzzer-beater.

At halftime of the game Sweet Home was up 14-12, and took a 24-17 lead into the fourth quarter before Elmira clawed its way back into the game to make it close at the end.

“We played super hard,” Emmert said. “It was a pretty fast paced game, especially for how low the scoring was. Both teams just didn’t shoot very well.”

He noted that the Huskies scored nine points in the pivotal last two minutes of the contest.

Sweet Home shot 26.9% from the field, lower than Elmira’s 31%. Both teams struggled from beyond the arc, as Sweet Home went 1/16 on three pointers and Elmira went 1/17.

Sweet Home outrebounded Elmira 44-30. Sweet Home turned the ball over 13 times and Elmira turned it over 12 times.

Aker led the Huskies in scoring, with 13 points on 6/20 shooting. Junior Ethan Delibertis scored six points on 2/6 shooting, also leading the team with 10 rebounds.

Against Cottage Grove, Sweet Home kept the game close through three quarters before the Lions pulled away in the fourth. The Huskies were down 24-21 at halftime and 33-29 at the end of the third quarter, before Cottage Grove won the fourth quarter 22-10 on their way to the 55-39 victory.

“We didn’t play nearly as well in that game,” Emmert said. “I think we kind of had the home opener jitters, I’m not sure. We just weren’t all on the same page, and I didn’t feel like we played quite as hard.”

He said that in the fourth quarter, “We just kind of unraveled. As things got hard and they hit some shots, we didn’t respond very well.”

The Lions outshot the Huskies 36.4% to 22%, going 3/19 from beyond the arc (Sweet Home was 1/11 on three pointers). Cottage Grove outrebounded Sweet Home 49-36. The turnover battle was pretty even, with Sweet Home forcing 18 and Cottage Grove forcing 19.

Aker again led all scorers for the Huskies with 10 points on 3/20 shooting, also leading the team with 10 rebounds. Senior Von James put in eight points for the Huskies on 3/10 shooting.

The Huskies travel to Molalla (0-2) this week for a game at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 6. They then host Hidden Valley (2-0) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 9.

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