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Rebounding advantage helps Sandy outlast Hilhi

Sandy dominates the boards en route to a 60-57 win over Hilhi at the Moda Center


PORTLAND – Last Friday’s game was one that slipped away for the Hillsboro boys basketball team.by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: AMANDA MILES - Hillsboro sophomore Evan Nelson tries to get a shot off over Sandy's Miles Brown during last Friday's nonleague game at the Moda Center.

Facing Sandy in the Rip City Showcase at the Moda Center, the Spartans got off to a hot start, only to see the Pioneers seize the momentum and the lead in the second half. After two potential game-tying 3-pointers inside the final 10 seconds failed to go down, Hilhi was forced to walk away with a narrow 60-57 defeat.

That loss — as well as a 72-52 setback Tuesday against Mark Morris, a school out of Longview, Wash. — left the Spartans searching for their third victory of the season heading into Pacific Conference play. As for the Pioneers, whom the Spartans will rejoin in the Northwest Oregon Conference this coming fall, they picked up their sixth win in a row.

“It’s disappointing to lose those games where you feel like you should have won,” Hilhi coach Ryan Svenson said afterward outside the visitors locker room at the arena. “Really, the big difference in the game was our inability to rebound. They killed us on the glass.

“I thought we did a really good job offensively. I thought we had really good ball movement. I thought we took really good shots for the most part. We just didn’t rebound.”

Indeed, the Pioneers frequently earned second- and sometimes even third-chance opportunities by hitting the offensive boards against the Spartans, none of whom stood taller than 6-foot-2.

But a height disparity is nothing new for Hilhi. In fact, both Svenson and senior Tyler Fernstrom, who led all scorers with 20 points, said rebounding typically is a team strength.

“Surprisingly, that’s supposed to be one of our strong suits,” Fernstrom noted. “That’s why tonight, it was just bad. It was just such a morale killer, because we usually do pretty well on the glass even though we’re undersized because we just go for the ball and get it done.”

Despite the rebounding difficultes, the Spartans still had a chance to force overtime at the end of the contest. Inside the final 90 seconds, Fernstrom knocked down a jumper off the glass and then Sandy’s Juan Ruiz hit just one of two free throws to put the Pioneers up 60-57. Inside the final 10 seconds, Fernstrom tried to tie the game with a shot from distance, and after the Spartans corralled the rebound, Terell Mims’ 3-point try also missed the mark.

To get those shots at overtime, the Spartans climbed back into the game with a 19-point outburst in the fourth quarter. They trailed 46-38 after three — having managed only five points in the third — but they clawed to within one point at 51-50 midway through the fourth thanks to a 6-0 run capped by Fernstrom’s three-point play with 4:40 remaining.

But Hilhi could not get over the hump against Sandy, which got 15 points from Ruiz, with most of them coming in the first half. In fact, Ruiz helped spark a second-quarter comeback for the Pioneers after the Spartans jumped out to eight-point leads on three occasions in the first.

Miles Brown cut Hilhi’s lead to 16-14 after the first quarter, but the Spartans spurted back out in the second, going up 29-22 on Fernstrom’s 3-pointer with about three minutes remaining in the half. But Sandy closed on a 10-4 run, so Hilhi had only a 33-32 halftime advantage to show for its efforts.

The Pioneers kept their momentum going in the third, taking over the lead at 36-34 about two minutes in. The margin swelled to 41-34 when Canyon Dwyre knocked down a pair of free throws less than a minute later.

“We came out really flat the second and let them pull away a little bit,” said Blake Pearson, who scored nine points for Hilhi. “It made it harder at the end to come back.”

The Spartans’ largest deficit, nine points, came a minute into the fourth on a Hunter Rowe jumper before Hilhi made its charge for overtime.

Brown hit double figures with 13 points for Sandy, while Evan Nelson added nine points and Brandon Wilson chipped in six for the Spartans.

“One thing that was stressed a lot in the halftime talk was obviously rebounding,” Fernstrom said. “Stuff that we also focused on doing really well since they were in that kind of 2-3 zone look — spreading them out and quick ball movement, which we got.

“We got really good shots a lot of the time, but when they’re getting four shots in one possession, it’s killer.”

Hilhi opens up its Pacific Conference slate by hosting Forest Grove tonight. The Spartans and Vikings girls teams are set to square off at 5:45 p.m., followed by the boys squads at 7:15.



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