By Jeremy McDonald
TIGARD, Ore.–It was a tough way to go down for the South Salem Boys Basketball team versus Tigard after a great finish to the season entering Tuesday’s match-up on the road as the Saxons battled hard against a Tigers squad that towered over them in front of them during the course of the game.
But, they found a way to compete.
Down 8-2 to start the game with Tigard coming out firing, South answered with the help of Jaden Nielsen-Skinner to build a 24-21 lead late in the second quarter as the sophomore scored eight of his 16 points in the first quarter to spark the Saxons rally and motivation.
“That’s how we are,” said Nielsen-Skinner on the first half. “We always end up starting slow, but we always come out fast. We just battled back. That’s the way we always do.”
Though the Tigers finished the first half on a 6-0 run to take a 27-24 lead, you could tell that South was in a dogfight to advance to play in the OSAA 6A Second Round on Friday evening.
But, the Saxons were momentarily stunned as Tigard came out punching to push their lead to over double-figures by the mid-part of the third quarter.
What got them refocused was a Tyler Wadleigh trey to get it to within single-digits that was followed by Gavin Baughman’s inspiring play as the junior scored eight of his 16 in the third quarter as.
And though the scoreboard read Tigers 47, South Salem 37, the Saxons looked as if they were one or two big defensive stops away from a fantastic rally entering the fourth quarter.
“I just want to get our team going and I know I can get the big guys off balanced because they couldn’t keep up with me,” said Baughman on his performance. “So every time, I just pulled up and hit that little jumper.”
They got as close to eight in the fourth frame, but the height of the Tigard squad in front of them that set the pace to start the second half to help keep momentum in their favor kept South from getting any closer as the Tigers ended the Saxons season 66-54.
“It’s upsetting, but we have to move on,” said Nielsen-Skinner.
“It hurts,” adds Baughman. “We prepared hard for this game, just come out short, it’s stings.”
Nielsen-Skinner adds that the goal every year is to go to the Chiles Center at the University of Portland in the Elite Eight with how successful the program’s been over the years.
And, adds Baughman, for them to get back their his senior year and Skinny’s Junior year; it starts with this off-season.
“We just have to get better this off-season,” said Baughman. “Work out more, get the whole team in (and) workout out. Not necessarily just at South but anywhere, text some open gyms. Get together and play to against the best and AAU.”
One thing is for certain, this feeling that they have right now entering the offseason well before they wanted; this will help them get back to the Elite 8 and the Chiles Center once more and make a deep run at the 6A State Title.
There is no doubt that South Salem will be back in 2017-2018.
SAXONS SCORERS- Baughman-16. Nielsen-Skinner-16. Wadleigh 11. Brown-5. Galbreath-3.Ellis-3.
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