Kurt Boyd (4) goes up for a shot against Yamhill-Carlton. The Tigers will head to Gill Coliseum in Corvallis later this week for their next match against Henley. (CHRIS BAXTER/The Observer)
La Grande’s boys basketball team goes 10-0 on their home court
The La Grande boys basketball team entered Saturday’s matchup with Yamhill-Carlton undefeated on its home court.
And with that momentum at home, Yamhill-Carlton did not stand a chance, as La Grande pulled away for a 74-55 win in the first round of the Class 4A state playoffs. The win clinches a spot in the quarterfinal round of the Class 4A state tournament against Henley at 3:15 p.m. Thursday at Gill Coliseum in Corvallis.
The Tigers finished 10-0 at home during the season and are 18-3 overall.
“With this game, to go undefeated here at home, I don’t know when the last time that happened. It shows what our team is about,” La Grande assistant coach Bubba Williams said.
Tyson Wicklander led the Tigers with a game-high 19 points, including a 12-for-15 effort from the free-throw line.
“(La Grande head coach Mark) Carollo told us take it to the paint and draw fouls,” Wicklander said.
The Tigers’ aggressive approach paid off at the charity stripe. La Grande as a whole made 25-of-37 free throws during the game, compared to just 9-of-14 by Yamhill-Carlton.
“(Our) main goal was to play hard and play physical,” La Grande junior Brandon Dall said. “I think we did that.”
The Tigers took a 30-21 lead into halftime on a 3-pointer from Kurt Boyd. The nine-point lead was just the start of the things to come for La Grande, as the Tigers steadily increased the advantage in the second half, including a 22-14 run in the third quarter to take a 52-35 advantage at the end of the third before cruising to the win.
The Tigers, who last played Feb. 22, a 57-45 win over Ontario, showed no signs of rust from the layoff.
“A lot of people thought we would be rusty, but we just wanted to come out and play hard,” Dall said.
Troy Williams added 16 points for La Grande, hitting 6-of-7 free throws, while Powell ended the night with 15 points, including one 3-pointer.
Carollo is excited for the Tigers and proud of the accomplishments his team has achieved so far. But the three-year head coach is far from satisfied.
“To get a reward like (going to state) is just the icing on the cake,” Carollo said. “We still have games once we get (to Corvallis), but getting there is a feat in itself. We’re going to have to be prepared, bring our A-game and continue to give effort.”
Wicklander said the Tigers will face stiff competition in their hunt for a state title, something, he said, his teams is eager for.
“I’ve got to keep everyone’s heads up,” Wicklander said. “If someone makes a mistake, I’ll make sure they are keeping their head up. We can’t get down over one play. We just have to keep coming out, being aggressive and know we are equal to every team there.”
Jon Clark led Yamhill-Carlton with 14 points, including eight in the final quarter. Conner Weidner ended the night with 13 points, making three 3-pointers, and Javi Renteria finished with 12 points, including two 3-pointers.
Yamhill-Carlton was 14-10 overall coming onto the contest and 6-4 in the Cowapa League.