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NHS upends Forest Grove to snap losing skid


6A boys basketball — The Tigers hand the Vikings their first league loss Jan. 28, but fall 47-41 to Yamhill County rival McMinnville Friday night

Having lost six straight games, including its last four in frustratingly close fashion, the Newberg High School boy’s basketball team was a pot of water about to boil over heading into its Jan. 28 contest at home versus Forest Grove.

The Vikings, on the other hand, entered the game on an eight-game winning streak and had not lost in the Pacific Conference through five games.

Sparked by sophomore point guard B.J. Ulloa’s career-high 20 points, the Tigers finally put it all together, upsetting the visitors 71-63.by: SETH GORDON - Catalyst - Sophomore point guard B.J. Ulloa's 20 points boosted the Tigers to a 71-63 upset of Forest Grove Jan. 28 at home.

“We’ve played great in stretches against a lot of teams, but we haven’t sustained it,” head coach Dave Brown said. “Versus Forest Grove, I thought the kids did it for 32 minutes.”

Unfortunately, Newberg was unable to maintain that high level of play for four quarters Friday night and fell 47-41 at home to rival McMinnville.

“It’s tough when you’re losing close games,” Brown said. “We’ve had our share this month and I’m really proud of the kids. I keep telling them people can’t take your heart. This is a game that is a big rivalry, it’s Mac, so it hurts a lot for the kids. They’re playing with heart and playing hard.”

A major key to the victory over the Vikings was the defensive effort the Tigers put forth in slowing down top scorer Michael Garcia, who finished with just five points. NHS assistant coach Mark Brown said he believes that Ulloa’s aggressiveness offensively may have affected Garcia as well.

“We definitely did a good job on him,” Brown said. “They didn’t like our 2-3 zone.”

Newberg trailed 35-34 at halftime, but held Forest Grove to 11 points in the third to take a three-point lead into the fourth, then exploded for 21 points to pull away.

Jacoby Wolfe led a strong rebounding effort for the Tigers, pulling down 15 boards to go with 19 points. Jake Sundquist added 13 points and eight rebounds. Newberg also went 21-for-28 from the free throw line for the game.

“That was the best game we’ve had in my two years,” Brown said. “It was fun to beat a really good team.”

Newberg jumped out to a 15-5 lead in the first quarter Friday and limited McMinnville to just four field goals in the first half, but a poor second quarter performance and 11 free throws from the Grizzlies left the visitors up 25-23 at the break.

McMinnville took control of the game in the third quarter, extending its lead to 42-32 early in the fourth quarter before the Tigers rallied. A Matt Freeman triple and a Jacob Pendergraph put back quickly cut the lead in half and the hosts got as close as 42-41 with 3:17 to go thanks to buckets by Tyler Delashmutt and Wolfe.

With McMinnville leading 44-41 in the final 30 seconds, Newberg got the ball to Wolfe, who had been battling foul trouble all night, at the top of the key. The 6-foot-5 junior attacked the basket, but his dunk attempt ricocheted off the iron and the Grizzlies got the rebound and made three of four free throws to seal the win.

Wolfe finished with 12 points and five rebounds and Matt Freeman added 11, but while McMinnville went 15-for-26 on free throws, the Tigers didn’t go to the line once.

The Tigers turned around to play Century at home Tuesday (results unavailable at press time) and will look to avenge a one-point loss to Hillsboro on the road Friday.

“Besides Lake Oswego and Tigard, we’ve handled everything coming our way pretty good, so we’re getting better and we’re challenging teams,” Dave Brown said. “But for our kids, this is a really big hard loss. Losing to Mac at home is not what they wanted. We’ll see how they respond to this.”