Huskies fall after first-round playoffs win

After scalding Scappoose in a lopsided 71-51 home victory last Tuesday, Sweet Home’s boys basketball team continued their state playoff run in LaGrande against the 13-8, eighth-ranked Tigers on Friday.

However, LaGrande, with a distinct height advantage, put an end the Huskies’ chance at a berth in the final eight at Gill Coliseum by a final score of 55-43.

In what was an otherwise tightly contested game for three quarters, the Tigers pressured Sweet Home for a three-minute period and built up a sizable lead that they never relinquished in front of their boisterous crowd.

“They had a great game plan,” said coach Kostanty Knurowski of LaGrande’s man defense. “They put pressure on our outside shooters and switched screens to keep us from penetrating.”

For Ryan Graville, who, along with Josh Riggs, played in his final game as a Husky, the defeat came as a slight disappointment, even though it was the third straight year that

Sweet Home had reached the playoffs.

“It would have been nice to go to Gill Coliseum,” admitted Graville, who had that as a personal goal. “But I guess there are a lot of other players who didn’t get to go either.”

The loss wrapped up a rollercoaster season for the Huskies, who started out well in pre-season only to suffer some early league losses. But Knurowski, in his first year as the Huskies’ coach, watched the players work hard through the difficult period, which paid off in the end.

“There was no doubt by the end of the season that we were the second-best team in the league,” emphasized Knurowski, noting their strong stretch during the final third of the season. “We displayed a lot of heart and character. The underclassmen wanted to send out the seniors in the right way.”

Sweet Home 71, Scappoose 51

With tremendous pressure defense and a blazing shooting spree in the first quarter, the Huskies quickly distanced themselves from Scappoose in their opening state playoff game.

Sweet Home converted four three-point shots, two by Graville, to establish a 20-6 first quarter separation. Each time Scappoose made a slight run, the Huskies quickly countered their efforts to keep the Indians at an arm’s length all night.

In the fourth quarter, Gavin Kauffman, whose steady performance made him the Husky high scorer with 17, sank a basket to give Sweet Home a 20 point lead. Scappoose expended some energy to reduce the margin to 11 as they went on a 10-1 run. Again the Huskies answered with a 10-2 blitz led by Graville, who totaled 16 points.

Levi Marchbanks created a number of shots inside to put together a 13-point, six-rebound night. Jerome Coleman provided some firepower off the bench with 10 points.

“We were just excited for this first state playoff game,” said Coleman. “It felt good to continue the streak.”

Knurowski felt the two teams were very similar, which would make the outcome determined by defense.

“Defense set the tone in the first quarter,” Knurowski stated. “We made some shots and that pretty much put the game out of reach.”

Sweet Home 20 11 15 25 71

Scappoose 6 10 16 19 51

Sweet Home: Kauffman 17, Graville 16, Marchbanks 13, Coleman 10, Emmert 7,

J. Webb 3, Moyer 2, C.Webb 2, Riggs 1,

Scappoose: Updike 16, Kienlen 12, Sawyer 6, Hendryx 5, Paxton 5, K. Jones 3, Cronin 2, Watt 2

LaGrande 55, Sweet Home 43

Graville said he hoped the Scappoose victory would carry over into the LaGrande game.

“It helped that we buried Scappoose and that gave us a confidence,” said Graville. “Confidence is a huge thing in the playoffs.”

In the first half, that confidence showed as Sweet Home and LaGrande played nip and tuck with the margin never exceeding more than five points. Sweet Home was limited to mostly an outside attack, though Marchbanks scored two early buckets in the first quarter. Free throw shooting began to be a factor in the game as the Tigers went to the line 29 times to the Huskies’ five.

“The game was physical at both ends,” said Knurowski, who watched LaGrande dominate the offensive glass, giving them more scoring opportunities and helping them draw more fouls on second shots. “They were definitely the aggressor on the boards.”

LaGrande opened the third quarter with an 8-2 advantage, forcing the Huskies to change their defensive set. Sweet Home’s half-court trap befuddled the Tigers, forcing turnovers, steals, and rushed shots. Kauffman’s three-point basket brought the Huskies to within one, but it was answered by Jason Yundt before Kauffman nailed a late final shot to keep Sweet Home close at the end of three, 32-30.

But then the wheels came off. Yundt led a Tiger assault for three minutes in which they built up an 11-point lead. Kauffman and Drew Emmert, two of the Huskies’ leading scorers with 16 and 10 points respectively, each had to sit part of the fourth quarter with four fouls. Struggling to find a way to score, Sweet Home was forced to foul and LaGrande, led by 13 fourth quarter points from Yundt, never let up.

“They ran their offense very well,” said Kauffman of the Tigers’ performance in the final period. “We just couldn’t stop them.”

Graville also scored in double figures with 10 points. In a rarity, neither team produced points off the bench.

Sweet Home 10 8 12 13 43

LaGrande 10 11 11 23 55

Sweet Home: Kauffman 16, Graville 10, Emmert 10, Marchbanks 4, Moyer 3

LaGrande: Jas. Yundt 18, Tooke 14, Attila 8, Z.Nice 8, Townsend 7