Taft eyes ‘pride’ fight, next hopefuls

LINCOLN CITY — “Pride” is all that’s at stake Friday as the Taft High School boys’ basketball team meets Willamina Friday in a season-ending league finale.

Their shot at an underdog berth in the 3A Coastal League was lost Tuesday, Feb. 5, in a startling twist of events against No. 7 state-ranked Clatskanie (12-7 overall, 8-2 league) as the Tigers (now 7-14 overall, 2-9 league) yielded a 26-minute-long lead in the final five minutes of the game, falling short 47-52.

The cliffhanger ending came as a disappointment to Head Coach Andy Morgan, who lamented a team gifted with talent that was beset by injuries, illness and uneven coaching.

“Everything that could go funny has gone funny this year,” he commented. “We didn’t have enough experience dominating a game to hold out.”

Still, the crowd got its money’s worth. Senior superstar Ray Darrington, six-foot-nine at the post, stuffed 27 points and seized nine rebounds. Starter Tyee Fisher, back from the injured list, contributed 10 points including pairs of two and three-pointers in the opening minutes.

“He really dominated that first half,” said Morgan, who also cited Clay Nelson as the “hardest working” member of the team.

The coach said he is buoyed by the young men in the wings for the 2019-20 season, juniors and sophomores with high court times and dominating performances.

“There’s going to be a real strong senior class next year,” asserted Morgan. “We have a group of juniors that have played all year, and even some younger guys that have amassed some good play time.”

Those underclassmen include sophomores Francisco Ramos and Kaden Hindman, and junior Graden Kerr.

Taft lost its first bid against Willamina Jan. 8, 45-52. The Bulldogs are 11-9 overall and 3-7 in league play. The game will start at 6 p.m. at Willamina.

“Now we’ve got to play a game for pride, and set the tone for a new season,” Morgan concluded.


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