Slow start dooms Tigers in quarterfinals

By Observer staff March 14, 2014 04:18 pm

CORVALLIS — A long first-half drought will leave the La Grande boys basketball wondering what if.

The Tigers went scoreless for more than eight minutes during a 61-52 loss to Philomath in the Class 4A OSAA state quarterfinals Friday.

A Troy Williams 3-pointer with 5:22 gave La Grande a 5-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Warriors went on a 20-0 run that didn’t end until Jake Powell hit a runner with 4:44 left in the second quarter.

As a team La Grande shot 6-of-23 in the first half, while Philomath went 9-of-24. The Warriors also went 6-of-7 from the free-throw line in the first half, helping build a 26-15 lead headed into the locker room.

In the second half the Warriors went to the inside with Koeby Bennett. Bennett used an arsenal of low post moves in the paint to help Philomath maintain a 41-34 lead through three quarters. The 6-foot-3 junior scored 16 points in the game and added nine rebounds, with 14 coming in the second half on 4-of-5 shooting.

La Grande made a run in the fourth quarter. Brandon Dall cut the lead to 49-43 with 2:32 left in the game on a 1-of-2 trip to the line. But a technical foul following a reach-in foul gave Philomath four shots from the free-throw line. The Warriors connected on three, pushing the lead to 54-43. A Jake Powell free throw after a basket once again cut the lead to six, but Philomath went 4-of-4 from the free throw line down the stretch to ice the game.

The Warriors continued dominate the trips to the free-throw line in the second half, shooting 13-of-18. La Grande earned its first trip to the line on a Tyson Wicklander drive with 5:42 left to play in the game. The Tigers went 7-of-9 from the line in the game, while Philomath combined to shoot 19-of-25.

Powell led La Grande with 18 points, while Williams finished with 12.

Ben DeSaulnier scored a game-high 25 points for the Warriors. Brodie Marchant added 12 points.

La Grande will play the loser of the Tillamook versus La Salle Prep for third place at 3:15 p.m. tomorrow.