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Tigers break through to edge the Raiders

Newberg holds off Reynolds 62-60, but comes back down to Earth in 65-48 loss to West Salem

SALEM — Considering that Newberg was still smarting from a 77-29 loss at Lake Oswego, it was only appropriate that Friday’s home game versus Reynolds would come down to defense.

After all, the Tigers spent most of the week working on that part of their game, with head coach Dave Brown breaking out the football pads to help instill a more physical attitude.

Add in the fact that Newberg tasted victory just twice last season and there was a lot of pressure riding on the Tigers as they led 62-60 with 52 seconds to play.by: SETH GORDON - Tyler DeLashmutt sparked the Tigers in the second half with his physical play beneath the basket and sank a pair of free throws with 52.3 seconds left to lift the Tigers to victory.

After stonewalling the Raiders to drain the clock down to 13.7 seconds and forcing a timeout, the Tigers herded the visitors into another bad shot along the baseline with four seconds to play.

The air went out of the gym as Reynold’s guard Collin Hunn corralled the backside rebound and rose for a put back, but he was stuffed and the ball fell harmlessly to the floor as time expired, setting off a wild celebration by the Newberg players.

“We knew we had to stop them and we wanted that win so bad,” center Jacoby Wolfe said. “We all came to play.”

After poor performances in losing the season opener to South Salem, a game that has since been forfeited by the Saxons due to ineligible players, and in the debacle against the Lakers, it was clear early on Friday that a week of practice had done the Tigers right as they looked like a completely different team.

Newberg played a strong second quarter to enter halftime down 26-25, but exploded for 20 points in the third, primarily sparked by the sharpshooting of Matt Freeman.

The senior, who has been patient in waiting for his turn at the varsity level, nailed three three-pointers in the quarter, lifting Newberg to a 45-38 lead heading into the final quarter.

“He’s been waiting since third grade for this,” Brown said. “He came over to my house in the fall and said, ‘I’m going to do whatever it takes to help this team.’ Then he gets to come out (Friday) and really was the guy. He was the guy that broke it open for us.”

The Raiders got hot from the outside to pull even at 55 points apiece midway through the fourth quarter, but Newberg got huge buckets from Wolfe and James Willcuts, the latter coming on a floater that made it 60-58 with 1:33 to play, to keep things tight.

After Hunn tied the contest 27 seconds later, the Tigers turned to an unlikely source for the winning points on a night when players up and down the roster were contributing.

After sitting out the first half and air balling his first free throw attempt earlier, forward Tyler DeLashmutt attacked the basket to draw a foul with 52.3 seconds remaining.

Having rebounded from the inauspicious debut by sinking a pair free throws midway through the fourth, he calmly drained both shots to provide what would be the winning margin.

“I’m really proud of him,” Brown said. “He really gave us a spark there in the second half.”

Willcuts finished with a team-high 13 points, Jake Sundquist had 11 and Wolfe scored all nine of his points in the second half for Newberg.

Unfortunately, the Tigers came out flat the following night and never found their finishing touch against the Titans, who went on an 11-0 run in the fourth quarter to pull away for the victory in a game that was much closer than the final score might indicate.

“We fought to the end,” Brown said. “We were just a little bit off all night long and they were too good of a team. They had guys 6-7 and 6-8 and they intimidated us a little bit around the basket.”

Newberg (2-2) returns to action Friday at Wilson and will participate in the North Salem tournament Dec. 27-28.

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