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Saints storm past Lane down the stretch

Mt. Hood gets in the South Region win column win the 76-63 victory over Lane


by: THE OUTLOOK: DAVID BALL - Mt. Hood CC center Mac Johnson fights his way to the basket for two of his game-high 24 points Saturday. The Mt. Hood CC men’s basketball team put on a late surge Saturday to score its first South Region win of the year 76-63 over visiting Lane.

The Titans climbed out of a 12-point hole midway through the second half, coming to within 53-52 after Dale Baker drilled a 3-pointer.

But the threat wouldn’t last long.

Barlow High graduate Brock Otis answered with a long ball of his own at the other end, and teammate Jalen Thomas came off the bench and hit another to put the Saints up 64-59 with 3:12 left.

The Saints knew where to go down the stretch.

Otis was ready to trigger another 3 from near the sideline only to see center Mac Johnson wave for the ball near the basket. Otis ceased fire and sent the ball in to his teammate instead. Johnson bumped his defender back a step and put the ball over the front of the rim.

“We were the more physical team inside, and I can’t complain if they’re sending the ball into me,” Johnson said. “Our defense and rebounding were the key at the end.”

Johnson came through again on the next possession with a turnaround shot in the lane that saw the ball circle the rim twice before falling through the net for a 68-59 lead as the clock rolled under two minutes.

Mt. Hood was patient with its possessions down the stretch, securing the victory when Otis beat the shot clock with a runner off the glass to make it a double-digit margin.

“After losing a couple close ones to good opponents, it was good for the guys to be able to close this one out — to see it happen,” Saints coach Geoff Gibor said. “It’s a process, but we were getting stops and rebounds when we needed them today.”

Johnson led the Saints with 24 points, while Otis put up 16.

Three teams remain unbeaten in the South Region. Mt. Hood (12-4) takes on one of them at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when they travel to Portland CC.

Lane got out to a quick start Saturday, sinking their first three shots, including a pair of long balls by Alex Sattley to build an 8-0 lead. Mt. Hood quickly pulled even when Otis connected on a 3 from the corner, and the Saints pulled ahead late in the first half after Denzel Green spun past a defender and swished a 12-footer.

The Saints took a 36-32 lead into halftime after Blake Updike converted a three-point play on a fastbreak, and Mt. Hood would not surrender its lead in the second half.

Mt. Hood ballooned its lead at the start of the second half when Thomas Simien went unnoticed at the front of the rim on an inbounds play. Landon Rushton sent him an alley-oop pass and Simien put it down before Lane could respond.

View a photo gallery from the game at daveball.exposuremanager.com.