The Timberwolves of Heritage High School (enrollment 1,350) had a difficult time in getting past the Fishermen of Astoria (enrollment 511) Saturday night at the Brick House.
In the third-place boys’ game of the Vince Dulcich Memorial basketball tournament, the Timberwolves eventually scored a 55-44 win over an Astoria team that had one of its’ best efforts of the season.
It also happened to be the third game in two days for the Fishermen, who were looking to snap a four-game losing skid.
The Timberwolves, who compete in the Washington 4A Greater St. Helens League (the equivalent of a 6A Oregon school), looked like they were ready to pull away in the second half. And more than once.
Travis Vanriper made a 3-pointer in the opening seconds of the third quarter, and teammate Sanjeet Singh added two more over the next minute to give Heritage a 32-16 lead.
Singh knocked down two more trey’s in the quarter for a 40-26 advantage.
But every time the Wolves were on the verge of putting Astoria away, the Fishermen rallied.
Whether it was back-to-back scores from Ephraim Tice and Josh Olson, an offensive rebound basket by Isaac Brockman, or back-to-back 3-pointers from Ryan Stenblom, the Fishermen stayed right with the bigger, stronger Timberwolves.
Astoria trimmed a 40-24 deficit to 42-36 with a 7-0 run, capped by a layup from Ian Hunt.
The Wolves answered with a 7-2 run of their own, but scores by Hunt and Brockman helped Astoria rally to within 51-44 with a minute remaining.
But that’s as close as the Fishermen could get, as Heritage made four straight free throws to secure the win and third place.
Hunt finished with 17 points (scoring seven in the opening minutes of the game, helping Astoria to an early 9-2 lead).
Astoria played two games Friday — the first, versus Redmond, was a 9:30 a.m. tip-off, and later an 8 p.m. game against Battle Ground.
The Fishermen trailed Redmond 23-10 after one quarter, but rallied and had a chance to win at the end, but a 3-pointer missed and the Panthers escaped with a 46-44 win.
“I was really proud of the way we battled,” said Astoria coach Kevin Goin. “We were down 13 after one, then outscored them 34-23 the rest of the way. We played better in the second half. We were able to score a little more — K.J. (Karsten Johnson) had 20 points and Isaac had 10.”
In Friday’s late game, both teams had trouble scoring, as Battle Ground led just 5-3 after one quarter.
“We struggled to score the basketball — that’s been our nemesis all year,” Goin said. “We’re young, and that’s part of being young.”
Still, the Fishermen were down just 14-8 at halftime, before the Tigers began to pull away in the third quarter, building a 35-14 lead.
“(The Tigers) had a 6-8 kid (freshman Kaden Perry), and he was a handful for us,” Goin said, while sophomore Brendan Beall led Battle Ground with 11 points.
Brockman had eight points for the Fishermen.