Taft big win puts berth in sight

LINCOLN CITY — The Taft boys exploded against 3A league rival Warrenton Tuesday in a 47-33 exhibition that put the Tigers within striking distance of a berth at conference finals later this month.

In the complex algorithms of the brand new Coastal Range League, No. 5 Taft (7-12 overall) will have to win one more game while No. 4 Willamina (10-9 overall) will have to lose a match for the formula to work. But Head Coach Andy Morgan has a simple plan to pull it off:

“We’ve got our backs against the wall, and we’ve just gotta’ win,” said Morgan as he contemplated the last three games of the season, including this Friday’s rumble with No. 1 Rainier, considered the tough guys of the league with their state-football-champ saunter. “They’re not a great team — just tough kids with championship minds.”

The Jan. 29 home game was Taft’s third run-in with No. 3 Warrenton (12-8 overall), having lost by a bucket (41-43) in their first outing Jan. 5 while chalking a revenge win Jan. 12, 46-25.

“We just kind of figured out the magic to Warrenton,” remarked Morgan, who said the key was shutting down the opposition’s leading scorer, Dalton Knight, who went on a 30-point rampage in their first meeting but was held to four points Tuesday.

Taft didn’t repeat earlier mistakes like spotting Warrenton an insurmountable first period lead. This time, the Tigers went retired at the half with an 18-12 margin that grew wider throughout the game. Quarter scoring was 10-4, 8-8, 16-12 and 13-9.

Jordan Hall emerged from the bench to lead Tiger scoring with four three-pointers, including a dazzling display of three back-to-back bleacher shots in the fourth stanza.

Tyee Fisher, also fresh from the bench, picked up nine points in a balanced game of inside shots and a three-pointer. Fisher was last seen on the run from the cops after making six steals in broad daylight.

Rounding out the balanced scoring was Ray Darrington, News-Times athlete of the week, with nine points, while Trenton Fisher got eight in a third-quarter burst with a layup and twin three-pointers. Other scorers included Francisco Ramos, five, and William Brooks’ for three.

The team faces powerhouse Rainier Friday in an away game. Rainier defeated Willamina Tuesday in a 48-46 squeaker, showing there is little slack in the league. Game time is 6 p.m. The girls, 2-17, fell to Warrenton Tuesday 17-72, but will dust themselves off to meet Rainier at 7:30 p.m., also.


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