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The Observer Paper 11/26/14

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La Grande returns home, opens league with a win against Pioneers

La Grande boys basketball fans saw a little bit of everything in the first home game since Jan. 2 against Pendleton.

McLoughlin couldn’t slow down the Tigers, with the home team running away with a 76-29 win Tuesday. With the win, La Grande extended its winning streak to eight games.

Andrew Kevan helped fuel the quick start in the paint. The 6-foot-1 post took advantage of the lack of height by the Pioneers, and was also the recipient of open looks provided by the La Grande guards driving and making the extra pass.

“Andrew was amazing tonight,” La Grande head coach Mark Carollo said. “We need him to play like that every night. He was physical down in the paint. We ran a play for him to open the game and try to get him going. 

“We have guards that can drive and they all pass the ball pretty well. All Andrew had to do was be ready.”

Kevan scored eight points, and La Grande pulled away midway through opening quarter. The Tigers closed the quarter on a 9-2 run, with Kevan scoring six during that stretch.

The Pioneers had no answer other than Carlos Angel. But, even the 6-foot guard wasn’t enough. Angel six of the first eight field goals that McLoughlin scored. However, that spanned the course of the first three quarters. Angel finished the game with 17 points, leading all scorers. The junior went 6-of-14 from the field, while the rest of the Pioneers went 4-of-34. 

Even with the strong start, Carollo thought his team could have played better.

“I thought we were going through the motions a little bit,” Carollo said. “I didn’t like our help side defense very much. We had some open looks that weren’t going down and guys started to hang their heads. I understand that they were excited to be at home in front of a great home crowd. There were just a few things effecting us. At the half we settled down.”

And for the most part the starting line-up sat down. Leading 46-22 with 3:30 left to go in the third quarter, Carollo made a line change. 

The bench picked up right where the starters left off, and even outscored McLoughlin 22-4 in the final quarter.

“There’s not much of a drop off between the starting five and the guys we can bring in,” Carollo said. “There’s a lot of guys that I can play. It’s a good issue to have. Your bench can never be too deep.”

Derek Yohannan came off the bench and connected on 3-of-4 attempts from behind the arc to lead the bench. The junior finished with 11 points. Kurt Boyd had nine points off the bench, and Logan Wilcox scored six. 

Troy Williams and Kevan led La Grande in scoring with 12 points, apiece. Tyson Wicklander finished with 10 points. Brandon Dall added eight points.

La Grande (9-2 overall, 1-0 GOL) will travel to Baker City for a 7:30 p.m. game Friday. The Bulldogs enter the game 4-12 this season, and lost their GOL opener to Ontario 59-49.

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