By Jeremy McDonald
TIGARD, Ore.– Radford’s athleticism presented a challenge worthy for improvement for a Dayton squad that lost starters in Lukas Findley, Braden Nowlin and Jayden Howard from last year’s third-place team.
The Rams of Hawaii connected on three three-pointers in the opening frame of the Pirates 67-58 win with Radford leading 16-10 after the first quarter.
Radford playing style was that similar to a De La Salle North Catholic with aggressive play defensively, strong shooting on offense as the Rams hit on seven threes’ in the game spread out evenly and a transition game to smoothly transition from one end of the court to the other.
“I think De La Salle and other teams are going to press us and trying to make us panic, force bad turnovers,” said Payton Garrison. “But if we match-up against team’s like (Radford) in the preseason then it’s going to help us towards the end.”
Garrison finished with 18 points in the win Thursday night as the young Pirates team settled in during the second quarter, leading 28-23 by the halftime breather.
Coming out of the break, Dayton kept their pace up. Tyler Spink hit back-to-back three’s as the Pirates opened an 8-3 advantage to start the second half that saw Dayton’s lead touch 12 points by the end of the third quarter, 49-37.
“We were just slow with energy in the first half, it was really important for us to pick it up and going. Our shots were going in the second half and kept it going,” said Spink, who had 11 points and three three-pointers. “We’re a young team so we just got to get our running in and games in and get going for us.”
Spink, Garrison, Dawson Ashley and Justin Morales saw significant minutes in Coos Bay last winter in Dayton’s third-place finish. The passes were crisper and the turnovers were on the low during the third quarter for the Pirates, outscoring the Rams 21-14 in the third stanza before both squads traded baskets and scraped for the ball in the fourth quarter.
Marcus Hill led Radford with ten points and Joshua Balais had two of the Rams seven three-pointers in the game Thursday night.
“These first couple games, they’re big statement games, everyone doubts us when your big Seniors go away,” said Garrison. “But everyone just stepped up and everyone’s making big plays.”
Ashley contributed another 13 points for Dayton, who will be playing the 8pm game Friday night against 1A’s Trinity Lutheran.