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Indians pull away to beat Taft

Tribe wins second consecutive game, and is finally starting to find a rhythm


by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Senior Mitch Davis fights for two of his team-high 16 points during the Indians' win over Taft. Scappoose has now won two in a row, and will go for three on Friday evening in Central.Especially after their tepid 0-3 start, back-to-back victories come as a breath of fresh air for Scappoose. Less than a week removed from a thrilling final game at the Sisters Holiday Invitational, the Indians (5-5) knocked off Taft at home, pulling away from the Tigers in the fourth quarter to get a feel-good 51-41 win, evening their record for the first time this season.

The victory came in spite of a tough shooting night from outside the arc, as points came slowly through the first two quarters. Taft kept things tight in the first half, able to run on long rebounds off of missed three pointers, of which there were plenty. The Indians went 2-15 in the first half from three-point range, prompting a word from head coach Rahim Tufts at the break.

“At halftime I (told the team to) stop shooting threes. Attack, attack! We shot 15 twos and 15 threes in the first half, and in the second half we only took three threes,” said Tufts.

The ploy worked. Scappoose shot just three times from distance the rest of the way, and though they didn't hit from outside, they were able to swing the ball around and collapse the zone defense, leading to higher percentage shots, free-throws, and offensive rebounding opportunities.

Junior Chase Johnson was a monster on the boards, pulling down 18 rebounds, 10 of them on the offensive glass. Johnson also poured in 13 points, but the added offensive chances were what made the biggest difference.

“He's got a great knack for finding the ball … he's just relentless going after it. That's huge for us,” said Tufts. “We had 19 offensive boards, and one of the keys that I put on the board before the game was crash the offensive glass against the zone. Getting extra possessions was huge.”

Johnson and senior Mitch Davis, who led the team with 16 points in the win, carried the Indians in the third quarter, scoring all of the Tribe's 11 points to help stretch a 19-18 halftime lead into a four point edge heading to the final frame. Johnson got things started with a strong three-point play, but the Indians won by committee in the fourth, garnering points from seven different players and forcing pressure shots from Taft.

Though Taft isn't ranked near the top of Class 4A, a pair of consecutive, “ugly” and gritty victories for Scappoose is a welcome sight for a team who is just now beginning to relax into their individual roles on the team. The trip to Sisters gave the group a chance to spend time together, as well as work on some different looks.

“Guys have kind of figured out where their niche is, and I think our substitution patterns, we've kind of figured that out,” said Tufts. “Jake Ford does a great job of coming off the bench and just d-ing up and bringing us great energy. That's just one small example. Everyone's starting to get better.”

The Indians are far from perfect. They struggle, at times, with keeping opposing players out of the paint, but Tufts says defending the ball will be a focus this week in preparation for traveling to Central on Friday night, and that the team's unity – especially where defense is concerned – is key to their success.

“Our motto is 'one team,'” said Tufts. “Everything we do is as one. We do it together.”

SUMMARY

Scappoose 51, Taft 41

TAFT 7 11 9 14 – 41

SCAP 7 12 12 20 – 51

Scappoose (51): M. Davis 16, Johnson 13, Loss 6, Ford 5, Scruggs 4, Backus 2, McNabb 2, Donaldson 2, Fazio 1,