TONASKET – The Tonasket boys basketball team isn’t blessed with a lot of size. So if they’re going to be successful this season, they’ll have to be effective on the perimeter.
The Tigers have done that in their first two games, hitting a total of 22 3-pointers, including 12 against rival Oroville in Saturday’s 77-67 victory over the Hornets.
Damon Halvorsen drilled seven treys against the Hornets for a career-high 31 points, including a back-breaker with under a minute to play to beat the 35 second clock that gave the Tigers a 12-point lead.
“We came out and hit our perimeter shots,” said Tonasket coach Glenn Braman. “That’s what this team is built for.
“Tonight we played pretty inspired. It’s a long-standing rivalry. We don’t like to lose to them, and it seems always to be close.”
By the standards of recent seasons, the 10 point margin qualified as a blowout. Last year the Tigers won by two points in double overtime at Oroville and by three points at home. The last double-digit difference came in a 13-point Oroville victory in 2008.
Oroville didn’t go down easily as Michael Garrett scored 30 points of his own, giving him 67 in the first two games of the year. The Hornets were also playing without C.J. Mathews, who is still recovering from a wrist injury suffered at the end of basketball season.
“I thought we played pretty well,” said first-year Oroville coach Allen Allie. “I really couldn’t expect too much more, considering we’ve changed up everything they’ve done the past five years. We pretty much did everything we could, but Tonasket’s very streaky and they really got into a groove.”
There were few scoring runs in the game, but the Tigers put together two in quick succession in the second half to take control after a tightly played first half.
Leading 49-46 in the third quarter, Tonasket went on a 9-1 run, with Zac Davis, Laz Ortega and Dyllan Gage each scoring two points and John Stedtfeld hitting a 3-pointer.
And after Garrett and Michael Hughes combined for five points to get the Hornets back in it, Halvorsen hit a pair of triples and 2-of-3 at the line after getting fouled on another trey to personally outscore Oroville 8-2 and give Tonasket a 66-53 lead early in the fourth.
Oroville got no closer than nine points the rest of the way.
“Tonasket does a good job setting strong screens,” Allie said. “We tried to fight through them, but we didn’t do a good job of getting around them. It’s hard to keep chasing them all night. We need to either fight through those screens or do a better job of playing help defense and backing our teammates up. We didn’t do that, and you saw what happened.”
The Tigers hit 50 percent (12-of-24) from 3-point range, including 7-of-9 by Halvorsen and 4-of-6 by Stedtfeld. That was actually better than their 2-point (18-of-40, 45 percent) or free throw (5-of-13, 39 percent) shooting.
“We’ll take that every night,” Braman said. “As long as (the 3-point shots taken) are really, really high.
“Lazaro Ortega, Dyllan Gage and Michael Orozco may not show up a bunch in the scoring, but they were all over the place on defense. They helped do the little things that kept us in the game.”
The Tigers also committed just six turnovers and have just 15 total through two games.
“We are valuing possession of the ball and not being sloppy with it,” Braman said. “Very proud of how the team is playing ‘team ball.’ It’s the only way we can be successful.”
Oroville maintained a slim lead through most of the first quarter behind eight points from Garrett and a 3-pointer from Luke Kindred. The Hornets were 6-of-14 (43 percent) from 3-point range.
Davis’ layup off a thread-the-needle pass from Halvorsen to end the first quarter gave Tonasket a 21-19 lead, and the Tigers never trailed again.
Stedtfeld finished with 22 points and Davis, a 6-4 freshman, added 12 as the Tigers improved to 2-0.
Hughes added 17 for the Hornets (1-1).
Oroville 69, Republic 42
OROVILLE – The Hornets opened their season at home on Friday, Dec. 2, with a 69-42 victory over Republic.
Michael Garrett poured in 37 points, including 15 in the first half as Oroville built a 31-10 lead.
Leading by eight after the first quarter, the Hornets outscored the Tigers 16-5 in the second to put the game out of reach.
Connor Hughes added 15 points and Zack Speiker chipped in with nine.
Jeremy Bertrang led Republic with 17 points.
Tonasket 63, Pateros 57 (OT)
PATEROS – The Tigers overcame a slow start in their opener at Pateros on Thursday, Dec. 1, hitting 10 3-pointers and twice overcoming double-digit deficits to force overtime on the way to a 63-57 victory.
Dyllan Gage, who finished with a team-high 21 points, hit a 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to force overtime, then scored five points in the extra session as the Tigers pulled away.
“This game displayed the desire of our team to win,” Braman said. “It was a total team effort.”
Braman said the Tigers’ ballhandling was the key to the victory.
“Many baskets came off assists. Passing and ball movement were excellent,” he said. “Lowest amount of turnovers (nine) in a long time.”
Pateros’ standout guards, Blayne Harvey and Rylan Easter, combined to hit eight 3-pointers. Harvey scored a game-high 25 points, with Easter adding 21.
“(They) drive everything that they do,” Braman said. “Well-coached as always and they play very hard.”
The Billy Goats opened up a 13-point lead early, saw the Tigers fight back to tie it, then pulled back out to a 31-20 halftime lead.
“We only have three players back (from last year),” Braman said. “We came out a little tight, and Pateros was hitting on all cylinders.”
Tonasket pulled to within six at the end of the third quarter.
John Stedtfeld added 13 points and Damon Halvorsen added 12 for the Tigers.