Hot-shooting Phoenix ends Sweet Home’s basketball season

Sean C. Morgan

Phoenix came to town with a hot hand Friday night and hit a lot of shots early, including six three-pointers, to build an insurmountable lead against their hosts in boys basketball to end the Huskies’ season in their state play-in game.

The Pirates exited with a 64-51 win.

Trailing 8-7 early on, Phoenix got busy and started by pulling ahead 9-8 on a shot by Logan Jenkins with a couple of minutes left on the clock. Sweet Home’s offense went cold at that point, and the Pirates followed with three back-to-back threes to lead 20-8 at the end of the quarter.

Phoenix extended its lead to 36-18 at halftime.

Senior guard Casey Tow said he was still hopeful at that point, and his team made gains in the third quarter, cutting the lead to just eight a couple of times, but the Pirates kept rallying back.

The Huskies made their run in the third quarter by just playing harder, said junior post Hunter Coulter. “We always try to find a way to come back. Play harder. Sometimes it works.”

Sweet Home trailed 47-34 heading into the fourth quarter.

“Everything that needed to happen for them to beat us did,” said Coach Drew Emmert. “They played good. We didn’t play very well. We looked really timid (nervous) in the first quarter. They were making everything.”

Phoenix is a “super streaky team,” Emmert said, and the Pirates beat seventh-ranked Klamath Union 62-38 just a week earlier.

“I think it was a combination of stuff,” Tow said, noting that the Huskies watched video and prepared well for the game, and they knew Phoenix would shoot a lot. “They made a lot of shots we didn’t expect them to make.”

The Huskies did shut down key players, like 6-foot, 5-inch Ethan Hutsell, on offense, Tow said, holding him to just six points.

“Also they did a pretty good job defensively, forcing turnovers, Tow said. The Pirates also did a good job holding off Coulter, Sweet Home’s leading scorer. Coulter was held to six points. “They did a good job of not falling for his fakes.”

“They kind of caught us off guard,” Coulter said. “We turned the ball over a lot. Defensively, we were solid.”

Despite that, Phoenix got hot against Sweet Home, Emmert said. “Some were shots we could have contested better,” but “we shot really bad.”

The Huskies didn’t shoot well from the field or the free throw line, Tow said.

Phoenix clogged up the lane with a zone defense that featured 6-foot, 5-inch and 6-foot, 7-inch players, forcing the Huskies to shoot from the outside.

Aiden Tyler led scoring for the Huskies, with 16 points. Tow added 10. Braeden Watts led the Pirates with 14 points.

It was “a great season,” Coulter said. It was an “emotional run” for him because he’s been playing with these seniors as long as he’s been playing ball.

The whole season long, Sweet Home’s goal was to be in the top eight, Tow said, but “I thought it was a good season I thought it helped put Sweet Home back on the map.”

“It ended too soon,” Emmert said. “We should have won that game.”

But overall, the season went really well, Emmert said, probably the best season in the past 10 years – except possibly 2011.

“We’re progressively getting a lot better,” Emmert said. “We had a chance to go to the tournament.”

The Huskies beat Philomath, which is in the hunt for the championship, Emmert said, and except for Phoenix, losses were to top-11 teams.

Even the games the Huskies lost, they played their opponents tough, Tow said. “I think it’s a good thing to build on next year.”

While six seniors are graduating, including Zach Zanona, Jasper Korn, Tye Moore, Zach Luttmer, Tow and Kai Bryson, Tow said the team returns players like Coulter, Tyler, Brayden Keesee and Cole Baxter.

Phoenix 20 16 11 17 – 64

Sweet Home 8 10 16 17 – 51

Phoenix scoring: Braeden Watts 14, Ortega 11, Jenkins 8, Clayton 7, E. Hutsell 6, Stanfield 6, Olsiewski 5, D. Hutsell 4, Zanni 3, Osorio.

Sweet Home scoring: Aiden Tyler 16, Zach Luttmer 11, Casey Tow 10, Hunter Coulter 6, Brayden Keesee 4, Cole Baxter 2, Jasper Korn 2, Zach Zanona, Kai Bryson.

Sweet Home 60, Newport 50

The Huskies ended their regular season beating Newport 60-50 on the road Feb. 25.

“They made it a game,” Emmert said. “We did a good job closing that game out in the fourth quarter.”

The Huskies led 15-13 after the first quarter and 28-27 at halftime. The Huskies pulled ahead 44-37 in the third quarter.

Tow led scoring for the Huskies with 17 points. Luttmer added another 16. Fredy Hidalgo and Bryab Tapia led Newport with 19 points each.

Sweet Home 15 13 16 16 – 60

Newport 13 14 10 13 – 50

Sweet Home scoring: Tow 17, Luttmer 16, Zanona 10, Tyler 10, Coulter 5, Keesee 2, Baxter, Korn, Bryson.

Newport scoring: Fredy Hidalgo 19, Bryan Tapia 19, Travis 5, Losier 4, Brusn 2, Garrett 1, Lehrer, Everitt, Cunningham.