By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– Every time Sprague got close to the lead Friday night in front of their home crowd, whether it was tying it up or getting it to within one of Beaverton, something strange would happen.
Shots won’t fall and, like during the fourth quarter, fouls became an issue as the Beavers pushed a then tied ballgame at 45 to 49-45 barely ninety seconds into the final frame of the Olympians 57-56 win over Beaverton. Sprague had to play smart throughout the remainder of the game knowing that each foul would send the Beavers to the line to possibly extend their lead in a game in which they’ve been so close so many times.
“I’m glad we kept our composure, we were down the whole game, we had to comeback. We had to fight through it, but we came together and took care of the ball,” said Mason Lomax. “Got to the free throw-line, made our free throws and just pulled it off.”
Lomax was everywhere in the first half on the defensive front while Ethan Flangan was the same offensively with nine of his 25 points coming in the first 16 minutes. But as it seemed as if the Beavs would pull away at any opportunity at the charity stripe, the Olys fortunes floated into their favor for once with free throws.
Greyson Salinas went one-for-two at the line to get Sprague to within three with 4:18 left at 51-48. Flanigan got them closer with a free throw and Lomax tied the game up at 51 with a pair of free throws.
The Olympians would make four more foul shots to take a 55-51 lead on Beaverton with 1:40 left in the game, but the Beavers weren’t going to trek home so easily as Bennett Giebels hit a deuce to get Beaverton to within two.
“It was definitely a grind but our practices have helped us get to this point where we’re capable of grinding because we grind every practice,” said Flanigan. “So it’s a grind and we just have to get every point, earn every point and we just have to play defense as a team hard.”
And grind they did as Sprague went up 57-53, but a monster three got the Olympians on their heels. Even more when the press of the Beavers pressured Sprague into a turnover leading into a timeout on the Beaverton side of the court down one and the Beavs in possession of the ball.
Timeout was called on the court as Beaverton tried to come up with a game plan for the win down 57-56.
For Jordan Granteo, the McNary-grad looked tamed like the guy he coached under for the Celtics the last two-years in Ryan Kirsch with cool, calm and collected. But his reaction at the final buzzer looked similar to McKay’s Dean Sanderson after a big win for good reason as his team went out to the court with 11.6 second left in the game.
The Beavers in-bound the pass and passed it around to the student section side of the Sprague court when Beaverton stepped in and let off a contested mid-range shot with two Olys right there.
It barely missed with three seconds to go and the Beavers got the rebound, but they didn’t get the put-back up in time as Granteo jumped off the bench with a loud celebrated reaction with a fist pump as his team hung on for the one-point win.
“Oh it was great, it was great,” smiled Flanigan on contesting that mid-range jumper. “I don’t want to say I was the one that hit it because there was help side with Cam (McGath), Cam was helping and I was just in the right spot. It was a team-effort definitely.”
The win was Sprague second on the season, but it was also their second win of four-points or less. Their lone loss, to Southridge, was eight as Sprague host McMinnville Tuesday at 6:45 in their final game before the four-day Capital City Classic at Willamette University on December 19.
“We got to work harder in practice, sometimes we come to practice going through the motions and we got to do better in practice,” said Lomax. “Better work ethic, we got to talk more. We got to keep our composure better, we got to come together and keep fighting.”
Lomax finished with 18 points. Kobe Withers had five points, Salinas, Dallon Morgon and Seth Shortis each had three points each in the win.