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Tigers stand alone in first

Tigard, behind a big second half, beats Forest Grove in conference showdown


by: DAN BROOD - WALKING ON AIR -- Tigard High School senior Elijah Simon (12) floats toward the basket between Forest Grove's Jalen Hall (left) and Andrew O'Donnell in Friday's game. Simon scored 22 points in the Tigers' win. TIGARD — The Tigard High School boys basketball team was looking to make a statement.

The Tigers were also looking to open up a two-game lead in the Pacific Conference standings.

They were able to achieve both of those goals — at the same time.

Tigard, behind a brilliant second half of basketball, pulled away from Forest Grove to get a 71-55 win over the Vikings in a battle of the top two teams in the Pacific Conference standings, played Friday at Forest Grove High School.

“This was a great team win,” Tigard senior Nick Kaelin said after the victory. “With the rankings, and the standings, this was a good statement game for us — we were looking to make a statement tonight.”

“This was a big win,” said Tigard senior wing Elijah Simon, who led all scorers with 22 points. “We wanted to get after them. They think they’re the best team in the league, and we think we’re the best team.”

With the loss, Forest Grove fell to 5-2 in Pacific Conference play (12-5 overall) at that point, putting the Vikings in a tie with Tualatin for second place in the conference standings. With the victory, Tigard improved to 7-0 in conference games (11-5 overall) at that point, giving the Tigers a two-game lead over the Vikings and Timberwolves halfway through the conference slate.

“That was the goal,” Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said of the 7-0 start to conference play. “That’s exciting. We’re halfway there.”

“That feels awesome,” Kaelin said with a smile. “We want to go undefeated in league, and this was a good step.”

But, for the most part, it wasn’t an easy step.

The talented Viking squad got off to a strong start in Friday’s game.

After Tigard took a 10-9 lead on a jump shot by Simon, Forest Grove went on a quick 9-0 run. Senior Jon Cirlincione concluded that run with a three-point basket that gave the Vikings an 18-10 lead with 18 seconds left in the first quarter.

Tigard, getting a pair of free throws by Kaelin with 0.6 seconds left in the opening period, made the score 18-12 going into the second quarter. And the Tigers came out on fire to start the period.

Tigard scored 11 straight points to start the quarter. Senior guard Bryan Berg scored the first four points of the scoring run. Kaelin had a layup off a pass from Berg, Simon went 2 for 2 from the foul line and senior Nathanael Ditton sank a three-pointer from the top of the circle to give the Tigers a 23-18 lead with 5:13 left in the first half.

Forest Grove, getting three-pointers from Cirlincione and sophomore Taylor Jensen, came back to tie the contest at 31-31 at halftime.

by: DAN BROOD - SOFT TOUCH -- Tigard senior guard Bryan Berg puts up a one-handed jumper during the Tigers' win at Forest Grove on Friday. The first half could have ended worse for the Tigers, as starters Berg, senior A.J. Hotchkins and junior post Joel Johnson all spent most, or all, of the second quarter out of the game with two personal fouls apiece. However, in their place, Tigard got strong play off the bench from players such as Ditton, senior Daniel Webster, senior Niko Niblack and junior Nick Brown.

“They all did a great job,” Alderman said. “They all contributed some big minutes.”

And the Tigers took over — in a big way — in the second half.

Tigard, getting baskets from Kaelin, Johnson and Simon, and a pair of three-pointers by Berg, went on a 15-6 run to open the third quarter, taking a 46-37 lead with 3:29 left in the period.

Kaelin, sinking a three-pointer of his own, added five points in the final 2:05 of the quarter and Webster sank an 18-foot jumper to give Tigard a 53-42 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers didn’t let up in the final stanza.

Johnson and Ditton had back-to-back layups to give Tigard a 60-44 advantage with 2:56 left to play. Simon then made sure the Vikings didn’t challenge after that, as he scored seven points in the final 2:14 to wrap up the 71-55 victory.

“Yeah, that was a lot of fun,” Simon said. “We had to keep the energy up.”

In the decisive second half, Tigard shot at a 13-for-18 clip from the field while outrebounding the Vikings by a 14-6 margin. Meanwhile, Forest Grove made just nine of 23 shots from the field in the second half.

“That was the big thing for us,” Simon said of Tigard’s second-half dominance. “We didn’t want it to be close. That was one of our best third quarters of the season.”

“We’ve been having bad third quarters,” Kaelin said. “But we had a great one tonight. We’ve been focusing on trying to play a full four quarters, and I think we did that tonight.”

Simon made five of 10 shots from the field and he sank 12 of 15 free throw attempts on his way to scoring 22 points. He also had eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.

“I had an alright game,” he said with a smile.

Kaelin scored 16 points. Berg had 14 points to go with four assists and four steals. Johnson added nine points.

For the game, Tigard made 21 of 39 shots from the field and 24 of 30 free throws.

Jensen led the Vikings with 12 points and Cirlincione added 10.

Tigard picked up another conference victory on Tuesday, when it bested Glencoe 61-39 in a game played at Tigard High School. With the victory, the Tigers moved to 8-0 in Pacific Conference play and to 12-5 on the season.

Kaelin led the way in the win over the Crimson Tide with 20 points. Simon added 14 points and Berg scored eight.

The Tigers will be back in action Friday when they host rival Tualatin in a key Pacific Conference game set to start at 7:15 p.m. at Tigard High School. On Tuesday, the Tigers will travel to McMinnville for a 6:45 p.m. conference game.



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