LEAVENWORTH – Of all the lessons for a young team to learn, playing with a big lead on the road in a league game is one of the toughest.
Surpassed only by getting past seeing that big lead get away.
The Tigers rolled to a 41-21 halftime advantage over Cascade on Saturday in Leavenworth, but the Kodiaks came back to catch the Tigers at the end of regulation and edged Tonasket in overtime, 67-66.
“We need to learn to hold down that kind of lead,” said Tonasket coach Agustin Pedregon. “Late in the game we had far too many turnovers and didn’t know when to push or when to milk the clock.”
That especially was a factor late in the overtime period when, with the score tied, the Tigers had the ball and 35 seconds left. Instead of milking the clock to get off the last shot and, at worst, settle for a second overtime session, the Tigers took a shot early in the possession and set up Cascade’s chance to win the game on a free throw with five seconds remaining.
“That was on me,” Pedregon said. “I should have called a time out, but I didn’t want to use our last one. I should have reassured the guys on what our game plan was down the stretch.
“It’s a tough one for me to swallow. But the guys are eager to get back on the court. They’re not happy, and we agreed to throw out the things from that game that won’t be useful going forward, and to remember the things that we want to continue doing.”
Cascade got back in the game with a 26-14 run in the third quarter, and from there the game was on. Tristin Parson, who had eight points at the half, finished with 23 points and hit seven 3-pointers, including a critical trey in the extra session.
“We can’t be giving up 26 points in a quarter,” Pedregon said. “We didn’t get out to challenge those shots and they made us pay for it.”
The Tigers’ Dyllan Gage lit it up in the first half, drilling five 3-pointers of his own and scoring 19 of his 21 points. Michael Orozco also hit five 3-pointers, four of them after the half, and finished with 18 points.
The Tigers (6-6, 1-5 CTL) returned to action Tuesday against Quincy.
“The learning experiences are getting old,” Pedregon said. “Now it’s time to get it done when we have a chance, and that was one that got away.”