Huskies win two

Sweet Home 64

Toledo 46

Hosting Toledo Dec. 4, the Huskies took their second win of the season 64-46 with a varied mix of its sophomores and varsity.

“I used a really balanced lineup against Toledo,” Coach Mark Risen said. “I’m still tinkering with my lineups.”

With that lineup, the Huskies maintained about a 12-point lead, Toledo closing the gap to seven points just after halftime.

After the first quarter, the Huskies were up 14-2. A number of the sophomores played through much of the second quarter to carry the Huskies to a 30-18 lead by halftime. After a Toledo run in the third, the Huskies led 48-28 by the end of that quarter.

In the fourth, Coach Risen put in the swinging sophomores. He challenged them to play even or win the quarter. They won the quarter until they got tired. When Ricky Howe fouled out, senior Aaron Hegge returned to the lineup because there were no other swing players to put back in.

“I thought we played really well-balanced,” Coach Risen said. Five of the guys scored between eight and 16. “There was a consistent amount of team emphasis.”

It was a “huge confidence builder” for the sophomores, Coach Risen said. Many of the younger players had 14 minutes, and they were successful.

It was “a real learning experience for our older boys,” Coach Risen said. They learned to deal with mixed lineups where they had to talk to the younger guys and lead them through things.

Sweet Home 63

City Christian 45

Hosting City Christian of Portland, the Huskies had their hands full with post Michael Johnson on their way to a 63-45 victory, a game that was cut to two points during the fourth quarter.

Johnson is the the son of Steve Johnson, who played with Oregon State University from 1979 to 1982 and held the NCAA field goal percentage record years. He transferred from Grant High School where he played 4A ball the last three years.

“He was a 4A athlete,” Coach Risen said. “He could run and jump, take the ball to the hole strong. I thought our kids did a good job.”

The Huskies drew three charges off of Johnson and three more from City Christian, the most they’ve had in a single game in the last five years.

“We went after him,” Coach Risen said. The Huskies managed to get Johnson into foul trouble, “so we really made him a non-factor, I thought.”

When he was in the game, he helped City Christian get with four to six points, then the Huskies would widen the lead to 12 when he was out.

“Our kids did an outstanding job of taking him out of the game,” Coach Risen said. Hegge had the honor of guarding him just because of size. Johnson big scoring came in the transition game, while the Huskies held him to four in the half-court game.

City Christian led 11-10 at the end of the first quarter. The Huskies were leading 31-24 by halftime. They led 42-34 at the end of the third.

“What really impressed me about the kids was their conditioning,” Coach Risen said. With 5:50 left on the clock, the Huskies led by only two.

“We went back to what we do best,” Coach Risen said. That’s playing hard with “true grit.” The Huskies started an 18-0 run that was all defensively generated. They forced four turnovers and scored before City Christian got a single shot attempt; then they forced five more turnovers to score for the game.

If the Huskies weren’t in the shape they’re in with the conditioning they have, it wouldn’t have happened, Coach Risen said. “They walked out of the gym knowing that when it came time to put it on, we had stuff to give.”

At the same time, City Christian gave the Huskies their first taste of start to finish half-court pressing with three different zone defenses designed to take Nik Walker and Kevin Furry out of the game.

The Huskies turned to their posts, Hegge and Sam Posthuma, and Anthony Mink.

Coach Risen praised their ability to adjust to the new situation.

He also praised his sophomores’ performance last week.

“Tim Matuszak played outstanding defense thoughout the City Christian game,” Coach Risen said. he gave a huge boost, creating opportunities the way Walker and Furry were doing.

Howe was excellent at the high post, Coach Risen said. “Ricky’s finally realizing he can play at that level.”

Donny Cliver played some great minutes, especially on the offensive end, Coach Risen said. Along with all of the perimeter players, he created well for the team.

“I really think things are starting to gel,” Coach Risen said. “I’m pretty excited. I’m looking forward to playing some stiffer competition … and have a few of our vulnerabilities exposed (before league play begins).”

The Huskies, now 3-0, will compete in the Junction City-Pleasant Hill tournament over the weekend. Coach Risen expects to face some quality teams there. They open at 8 p.m. on Thursday at Cottage Grove. They will play at 5 p.m. or 8 p.m. at Pleasant Hill on Friday. On Saturday, depending on how they do, the Huskies may play between 2:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at Pleasant Hill.

The junior varsity defeated City Christian 63-35 but lost to Toledo, 62-50. The team is 2-1.

The freshmen defeated City Christian 41-37 and hold a 2-0 record.