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Lions beat Northwest Oregon rival-to-be Scappoose for fourth time in seven years, 72-66

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JAKE MCNEAL - St. Helens' Jacob Falk (52) powers for a putback above the Scappoose defense.

Jacob Falk and Joe Rea were just too much for the Indians in the Seven-Mile War opener Friday.

The St. Helens senior forward and sophomore guard overcame Scappoose leads beneath the basket and from beyond the 3-point line in a 72-66 home win.

"I stand by my statement that this is the best place to be on Friday night," said St. Helens coach Jordan Massinger, whose Lions (1-0 overall) beat their Class 5A Northwest Oregon Conference rival-to-be Tribe (0-1) for the fourth time in seven years, a series in which the respective home team has won five in a row and in which the Indians retain a 59-58 average score. "I tell the team every day at practice, 'When you step on this court, you have to own it: You have to expect to win.'"

Jerad Toman rode Scappoose's full-court press to a steal, two free throws and an 8-0 lead out of the gate, but Drake Dow attacked the Tribe basket and Falk, taller than any Indian at 6-foot-6 [as 6-foot-5 senior forward William Cunningham is Scappoose's loftiest], cleaned the offensive glass for putbacks and a 15-15 deadlock.

"It was such a great atmosphere," said Toman, a senior guard who came up with 12 points. "Every year we play, both sides come out with a lot of energy, and it's just such a great atmosphere to play in, all the screaming and yelling really keeps you on your toes and excited."

The Lions zipped through the Tribe pressure with ease and, though their layups rolled off the rim, Falk's dunk from the left and his putback of Owen Wolfe's free throw attempt cut the Indians' advance to 31-27 at the half.

"You can't guard [Falk] one-on-one," Massinger said. "If you double him, you've got Owen Wolfe [6-foot-7] to worry about."

Rea hit back-to-back 3-pointers early in the third quarter as he and Falk, who made good use of Drake Dow's overhead passes into the right block, helped St. Helens to a flash of a 51-37 lead with two minutes to the fourth.

"I loved [the back-and-forth]," said Dow, a senior guard who scored 20 points and never sat as he checked Indians senior guard Joey Wagenknecht. "I love close games, and having everyone there made it that much more exciting. Really proud of our guys tonight."

The Lions outran Scappoose 33-18 in the third, and Falk and Rea ended up with 21 and 16 respective points in the evening.

"Joe really came alive and strong in the third," Massinger said. "In the first half he was down on himself for missing shots, but I told him, 'If you don't shoot, you can't make it.' We need him because in the next two years after the seniors [Falk, Dow, Wolfe, Trenton Minich and Devin McCall] graduate, it's Joe's show."

Wagenknecht's triples -- he hit seven of 15, in fact -- from the right shoulder helped keep the Tribe within 11 at 60-49 into the fourth, 65-54 with 5:30 left and closer at eight (66-58) at 4:35.

"It was a great game," said Wagenknecht, who led all scorers with 28 points. "I loved the intensity on both sides of the floor. St. Helens has a great season ahead of them, and I am excited to see what our team can do too."

St. Helens did its best, however, to slow the rally and the pace to run out the final seconds.

"Obviously a tough loss -- That being said, I was really proud of the way our guys battled down the stretch to make a nice comeback," Indians coach Weston Powers said. "I'm excited that this rivalry will be played twice a year next season with us going up to 5A: It's a great game where both communities come out to support their teams."

Scappoose outscored the Lions 17-12 in the fourth but could not complete the comeback.

"Joey really got it going in that second half and put on a shooting clinic from deep," Powers said. "Toman and [Chris] Bendle [who finished with 13 points] both played well on the defensive end and made plays for us. I was pleased with the way our young guys handled themselves tonight in such a tense environment: [St. Helens'] bigs did a great job rebounding and really gave us problems once they got second-chance looks. Dow played well and the Rea kid can really shoot it. Falk made plays down low. They have a good team this year, and they really got hot at the beginning of the third quarter and pulled away."

ST. HELENS 72, SCAPPOOSE 66

Friday, Dec. 1, in St. Helens

S 18 13 18 17 -- 66

SH 16 11 33 12-- 72

SCAPPOOSE (0-1) -- Joey Wagenknecht 28, Chris Bendle 13, Jerad Toman 12, Bradley Verbout 6, JJ Turner 3, Logan Travis 3, Nate Maller 1. 3-point goals -- 9 (Wagenknecht 7, Bendle, Turner). Total fouls -- 18. Totals 24 9-14 66.

ST. HELENS (1-0) -- Jacob Falk 21, Drake Dow 20, Joe Rea 16, Owen Wolfe 8, Devin McCall 4, Jacob Erceg 3. 3-point goals -- 7 (Rea 3, Dow 2, Erceg, McCall). Total fouls -- 12. Totals 27 11-21 72.

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