SH tops Central in conference hoops showdown

Sweet Home 69, Central 67

A relentless Husky assault matched Central’s Friday night as the Huskies gave the Panthers their second loss this season 69-67 in boys basketball and took one more step toward securing the league championship and first seeding in state playoffs.

The Huskies must win its next two games, at Philomath and hosting Taft, to win the Val-Co league championship. Losing one game, the Huskies would tie Central for the championship as long as Central defeats Newport on Friday; but last Friday’s game ensures the Huskies will be first seed in state playoffs in that situation. Losing to Taft and Philomath, the Huskies would finish second in league and second seed behind Central.

Central built a small lead, 21-19, in the first quarter, extending the lead to five points during the second. Trailing 26-21 in the second quarter, Brock Cota scored two free throws followed by a bucket from Kauffman to close the lead to 26-25. Trading baskets and free throws the Huskies tied the game 36-36 at halftime with a three by Kauffman. Phillips missed a three for Central at the buzzer.

Central had early foul trouble in the second quarter, and the Huskies were able to put some free throws down to help tie the game and take advantage of the situation when the Panthers benched Grant Hedrick, Knurowski said.

The Huskies built a 54-50 lead by the end of the third.

“In the third quarter, we jumped on them a little bit,” said Coach Kostanty Knurowski. The Huskies built a nine-point lead, but Huskies Brent Moyer and Drew Emmert, who run point, were in foul trouble, with four each.

“I had to kind of platoon both of them a bit,” Knurowski said. “We wanted to try to keep at least one of them on the floor at all times.”

“It didn’t take them too long to come right back,” Kurowski said. The Panthers whittled down their deficit to one point.

Central post Jesse Peters fouled out, and Levi Marchbanks hit a three on the buzzer to give the Huskies a four-point lead at the end of the third.

The two teams warred throughout the final quarter, with Kauffman scoring the final bucket of the game to build a 69-66 lead.

In the final minute, Cota scored two free throws to increase the Husky lead to 67-64. Hedrick assisted Pratt for a bucket to cut the lead to 67-66. Marchbanks passed the ball to Kauffman who drove the lane for the Huskies’ final score.

Phillips missed a three attempt, and with .46 seconds left on the clock, Jesse Pratt drew a foul from Kauffman on the rebound and went to the foul line.

Pratt missed the first shot, Knurowski said. In that situation, the Huskies knew that Central had a slim chance of getting a bounce and putting it back in one motion if Pratt missed the second shot. He pulled three players above the three-point line where Central would have to score, leaving two to rebound.

“If they were going to get a shot off, it would be with one of us in their face,” Knurowski said.

Pratt hit the second shot to close the lead to two points, giving the Huskies the ball out of bounds.

“We told Drew (Emmert) to throw it deep and make sure somebody touched it,” Knurowski said. “We told Brock and Gavin to go deep and just touch it, even just tip it.”

Kauffman received the pass, and the clock ran out.

The Huskies made big plays throughout the game answering Central’s, Knurowski said. Brock Cota put down free throws at key points down the stretch.

“Throughout the game, Gavin Kauffman made play after play,” Knurowski said. At the beginning of the game, Ty Phillips came out shooting hot, but Kaufffman had an answer to everything Phillips did, keeping the scoring tight.

The Huskies lost 75-44 in their last outing against Central.

During that game, the Huskies didn’t have an answer to Phillips strong early performance, Knurowski said. This time they did.

“It was kind of a psychological boost for us,” Knurowski said. “No matter what he was doing, Gavin was going to be there to answer it.”

Emmert made some tough baskets in the fourth quarter to preserve the win, Knurowski said, and Jones had a pair of huge put-backs as he outworked his opponents to get the ball.

Knurowski said he could go on, with every player on the court contributing.

Moyer took three charges in the first half, two of them from Hedrick, helping bench him, Knurowski said. The team took five charges on the game, the most in a single game this year.

“I’m just proud of the way these boys came out and responded, especially the way central beat us last we played them,”

Knurowski said. “I thought we played with a lot of pride and a lot of heart throughout that game.”

The Huskies were poised and focused on finding a way to get the win against an opponent that played well, he said.

Central will be hard for someone to take out in the state playoffs, Knurowski said. “I think the Val-Co will be represented well at playoffs this year.”

“We just came out and played some defense,” said Emmert. And when foul trouble threatened Emmert and Moyer, “everyone stepped up so it wasn’t a big drop.”

Intensity was the key, Cota said, and the team maintained its composure when Central rallied.

“It wasn’t one guy tonight,” Cota said.

“The crowd helped out,” Kauffman said. “They were so loud.”

His goal during the game was to try to stop Pratt, he said. “I was just trying to sit in his lap the whole game.”

The final play of the game, Pratt’s trip to the foul line, Kauffman said he was nervous.

The Huskies expected Central to try something, like bouncing the ball off the hoop and shooting, to get the win from the foul line, Marchbanks said.

Overall, “there were a lot of big plays,” Marchbanks said, and he thought free throws were really important down the stretch.

Going into the game, the Huskies were ranked third in the state. Central was ranked first with Elmira at second. The Huskies were followed by Hidden Valley at number four and Tillamook at number five. The Huskies hold a 17-3 overall record and a 9-1 league record. Central holds a 21-2 overall record, both losses to the Huskies, and a 9-2 league record.

Central 21 15 14 17 €“ 67

SH 19 17 18 15 €“ 69


Central €“ Ty Phillips 23, Pratt 15, Omlid 12, Hedrick 9, Peters 8, Frerichs, Robison, McArdle.

Sweet Home €“ Gavin Kauffman 24, Drew Emmert 13, Levi Marchbanks 11, Brock Cota 8, Brent Moyer 6, Willie Jones 4, Jerome Coleman 3.