It’s one and done for Huskies in hoops playoffs

The Huskies rode a wave over Central, handily beating the Panthers twice to get into the state playoffs two weeks ago, but that wave crested in the second quarter of their first playoff game.

Sweet Home opened with a big first quarter only to be worn down and beaten 61-46 by LaSalle from the Capital Conference in the first round of state playoffs.

The Huskies opened with confidence, especially on the heels of their Central wins, and built a nine-point lead.

“We shot the ball really well, the first quarter especially,” Coach Tim Little said. “We started with two or three straight stops,” and Brandon Weist and Gabe Kauffman both sank threes to get things going.

With a 13-4 Husky lead, LaSalle called a timeout.

“We were feeling confident,” Little said. “Intensity was up. Concentration was high.”

The Huskies held onto their advantaged a little longer and led by a high of nine in the second quarter.

“They got some inside shots and we fouled and put them on the line,” Little said. “They had a couple of three-point plays there. We missed a few shots ourselves or we turned the ball over.”

By the end of the quarter, the Huskies had a three-point deficit.

Leading 32-29 to start the third quarter, LaSalle managed to get up by as much as five, but by the end of the third, it was a four-point game, LaSalle leading 43-39..

The Huskies remained confident they could still take the game, Little said, but they were tired by the fourth quarter, missing free throws and turning the ball over seven times.

“Some was due to our mistakes,” Little said. “And they turned up the intensity also.”

The LaSalle press caused Sweet Home to turn the ball over, and fatigued Huskies were shooting a little short.

By the fourth quarter, point guard Colton Emmert was feeling the effects of a groin injury that had kept him out of practice for six days, Little said. “He was feeling good during the game. It caused us to take it out of his hands a little bit.”

Emmert and Kauffman led Husky scoring with 15 points each. Weist added 12, and Josh Riggs and Ricky Worley each scored two.

Cameron Brown led Falcons, scoring with 20 points. Ryan Soberanis added 16; Evan Burmester, 10; Vince Hicks, five; Jake Weber, five; Willie Novak, three; and Cameron Keeney, two.

The team takes “a lot of positives” away from this season, including achievement of its goals, Little said. “The kids and coaching staff are excited about this year. The way the community got involved, the way the kids got involved kind of helps build a tradition.”

“We went into the season knowing we had a shot at winning league,” Little said. “We got the second seed (for state playoffs) out of our conference.

“LaSalle’s a very good team. They beat Siuslaw and will play at Gill this weekend.”

The Huskies will return a young core group next year, Little said. It will lose seniors Weist, Nathan Whitfield, Worley, Jon Ball and Ray Lingenfelter. Expected to return are Emmert, Kauffman, Ryan Graville and Josh Riggs, among those who had significant varsity time.

Kyle Carter also returns after missing most of the season due to an injury. Dustin Hay, who will be a senior, was named junior varsity player of the year and will fill a needed role for the Huskies next year.

The Huskies have some sophomores coming up off the freshman team’s 14-5 season, and Little expects to give two or three of them varsity minutes.

“I hate to see it end,” Little said. “I wish, for the kids’ sake, we could keep playing and give them that experience.”

The majority of the games where the Huskies lost, “we beat ourselves,” Little said. “We also overachieved in a lot of games.”

With that and the community’s involvement, turning out for games, Little and his team are excited about coming back next year.