Molalla cagers end shot at state for Sweet Home

Molalla 52

Sweet Home 41

Fourth-place Molalla eliminated the third-place Husky boys basketball team from the Capital Conference playoffs last week on Wednesday night 52-41 at Sweet Home.

“We played dead even in the first half,” Coach Mark Risen said. “Both teams came out really intense.”

With just a handful of seconds left in the first half, Molalla sank a three to go up 28-24.

In the locker room, Coach Risen told his team to stick to the game plan, heavy defense and pushing the ball up the court on offense.

The Huskies scored a single bucket in the third quarter. Molalla scored just four points before a 20-15 scramble in Molalla’s favor in the fourth quarter.

The Huskies had a hard time controlling the ball, a problem they’ve fought throughout the season, Coach Risen said. The Huskies forced 23 turnovers out of Molalla, but turned the ball over 21 times themselves.

Those turnovers worked against the Huskies, fumbling the ball out of bounds on the tail end of a fast break or throwing key passes away. To top it off, the Huskies shot just 18-49 from the field.

The problems with ball handling led to shooing out of synch, Coach Risen said. The team took shots early or too late in the offense, and that cut down opportunities for offensive boards.

Aaron Hegge led the Huskies in scoring with 13 points. Kevin Furry scored 11 points; Sam Posthuma, six; Ricky Howe, five; Tim Matuszak, four; and Anthony Mink, two.

Marcus Banks led Molalla with 21 points. Daniel Kirkham added 15.

The loss ended the Huskies’ season. Molalla moved on to the first round of state against Astoria or Scappoose on Saturday for a spot at the tournament at Gil Coliseum. Conference co-champions Stayton and Central will compete in the state tournament.

“All things considered, there was enough off-the-court distractions this season it made it hard at times for kids and coaches to focus on basketball,” Coach Risen said. He was proud of the kids “for playing through the adversity” and focusing on the “things we do control. I was really proud of the kids that finished the season because they weathered the adversity. I think we did a marvelous job all things considered.”

The team had two cracks at the championship, Coach Risen said. “We had some young kids on the floor put in pressure situations that will pay … dividends in the future for them.”

Coach Risen praised his three seniors, Hegge, Furry and Posthuma, and related how the team’s six sophomores all appreciated them as players and as people.

“They’re a great group of kids,” Coach Risen said. “We had so much fun.

“Looking at next year, we’re going to have to use smoke and mirrors. We’re going to be a little bit young. We’re going to be a little bit small, but we have great talent.”

The downside is the team won’t have the dominant post presence its had for three years, but the team will be good on the perimeter the next few years.

“So we’re going have to come up with some great wizardry to make it work,” Coach Risen said.