As the offense looked out of sync and the defense was allowing too many easy baskets, Phoenix boys basketball coach Troy McNichols just knew his team would be rewarded if they could just shore up a few details Friday night.
A momentum-building 3-pointer by Robin Trenbeath late in the first half gave his team hope, and the Pirates closed out visiting Klamath Union with a 17-5 surge in the final quarter to secure a 46-29 Skyline Conference victory.
“We just stuck to our guns,” said McNichols of the satisfying victory. “We had a plan and the kids were awesome at staying with the plan. We just felt like that if we did what we had set out to do that we would eventually create some space between us and them. Overall it was a great team effort.”
Phoenix trailed for most of the second quarter until Trenbeath connected on a 3-pointer late in the second quarter to give his team the lead at 18-16. Another basket allowed the Pirates to enter the break up 20-16 in an opening 16 minutes that was fraught with missed opportunities.
“That was a huge shot,” McNichols said of the go-ahead 3 by Trenbeath. “For us to go in with a lead at halftime was a big deal because it wasn’t going well. We hadn’t been scoring at the clip that we would like to score at, so for us to take a lead when things weren't going our way was a big deal. Coming in the kids felt great, and they just built on that going out to the second half.”
Dylan Harper scored seven of his team-high 16 points for Phoenix (9-11, 2-4 Skyline) in the second half, and Julius Bolstad tallied seven of his nine points in the final stretch to help push past the Pelicans (6-10, 3-2).
Bolstad also finished with eight rebounds while Harper pulled in three boards, and Izayah Mooring contributed six of his eight points in the fourth quarter.
Defensively, Phoenix was able to limit KU to five field goals and 13 points in the second half thanks to a key halftime adjustment.
“Cutting off the baseline was a big deal,” said McNichols. “That’s where Klamath was getting a lot of their scores from, is that they were driving the ball baseline and were doing some wrap-around passes and hitting their overloads. We stopped penetration on the baseline and that changed it for us.
“Once our kids bought into that concept and stopped overplaying the recipient there in the corner, we were able to cut the drive off and that was a big part of our defensive flow.”
With four losses by five points or less in the Pirates’ last seven games, the mood was decidedly upbeat and one of relief for Phoenix after Friday’s game.
“The biggest thing for us is halfway through the season we just decided that the way that we were playing just wasn’t working and we had to go a little bit more conventional,” said McNichols. “We’re playing control ball and we’re playing everybody tough, we just haven’t gotten the wins. To our kids’ credit, they haven’t hung their heads and they haven’t given up and it’s just been very rewarding to be part of that.”
KLAMATH UNION (29): Ortiz 5, Matheney 1, Kjaer 6, Anderson 0, Saluskin 0, Hawkins 5, Zumwalt 7, McKay 2, Perdoma 3. Totals: 12 2-7 29.
PHOENIX (46): Trenbeath 5, Je. Selden 3, Mooring 8, Ja. Selden 3, Ponce 0, Hernandez 0, Harper 16, Ayala-Talbott 0, Decker 2, Bolstad 9. Totals: 13 18-23 46.
Klamath Union 12 4 8 5—29
Phoenix 8 12 9 17—46
3-point goals — Klamath Union 3 (Hawkins 1, Zumwalt 1, Perdoma 1), Phoenix 2 (Trenbeath 1, Harper 1).
SHELDON 54, NORTH MEDFORD 50: At Eugene, North Medford held a three-point lead heading into the fourth quarter but couldn’t pull off the road win as Sheldon connected on three of its eight 3-pointers in the final frame to eke out the Southwest Conference victory.
Houston Klug had 13 points to lead the Black Tornado (6-14, 4-5 SWC), which also got nine points apiece from Andrew Plankenhorn and Antonio Orozco.
Rocco Graziano drained five 3-pointers to lead Sheldon (8-13, 4-5) with 17 points.
NORTH MEDFORD (50): Klug 13, Carr 0, Torres 5, Plankenhorn 9, Stewart 8, C. Young 4, Orozco 9, Kelly 0, Scott 2. Totals: 18 6-7 50.
SHELDON (54): Winger 6, Rubino 2, Parosa 0, Mohiuddin 7, Graziano 17, Stapleton 4, Cramer 6, Leighton 12, Yakovich 0. Totals: 21 4-7 54.
North Medford 7 10 23 10—50
Sheldon 7 17 13 17—54
3-point goals — North Medford 8 (Klug 2, Torres 1, Plankenhorn 3, Orozco 2), Sheldon 8 (Mohiuddin 1, Graziano 5, Cramer 2).
ASHLAND 57, SPRINGFIELD 30: At Ashland, Sean Thompson led three Ashland players in double figures with 14 points to help the Grizzlies clinch a winning record in the Midwestern League and in the regular season with three games to go.
Sebastian Stowasser and Silas Wright each added 10 points for Ashland (12-8, 7-2 MWL), which has won four straight games. Izzy Golden scored nine points.
The Grizzlies locked in defensively in the first half, limiting Springfield to nine points to build a 25-9 cushion at the break.
SPRINGFIELD (30): Navarrete 1, Babbitt 6, Fuller 7, Arellano 2, Kasperek 0, Trinka 2, Robinson 8, Schiffendecker 0, Peterson 4, Colter 0. Totals: 10 9-11 30.
ASHLAND (57): Stowasser 10, Lehnerz 2, Golden 9, Wright 10, Thompson 14, Carroll 0, McNamara 5, Bloodworth 0, Rountree 0, Barnard 7. Totals: 23 4-8 57.
Springfield 4 5 9 12—30
Ashland 10 15 14 18—57
3-point goals — Springfield 1 (Fuller 1), Ashland 7 (Stowasser 3, Wright 1, Thompson 1, McNamara 1, Barnard 1).
NORTH EUGENE 89, CRATER 62: At Eugene, Ashton Acrey scored 14 points and Crater got 11 points apiece from Kyle Bittle and Ty Dahlin but a 31-13 deficit after one quarter proved too much to overcome.
The Comets dropped to 13-8 overall and 4-5 in MWL play.
CRATER (62): Idiart 3, Havniear 3, Acrey 14, Higginson 0, Bittle 11, Dutkiewicz 6, Price 4, Dahlin 11, Hopkins 0, Schwenk 7, Rucker 3.
NORTH EUGENE (89): Spencer 7, Anderson 14, Banry 18, Duke 10, Kitzhaber 5, Sims 11, Gould 6, McKinnis 15, Thompson 0, Olney 3, Johnson 0.
Crater 13 19 11 19—62
North Eugene 31 22 14 22—89
3-point goals — Crater 3 (Idiart 1, Bittle 1, Dutkiewicz 1), North Eugene 7 (Banry 1, Duke 1, Kitzhaber 1, McKinnis 3, Olney 1).
Reach sports editor Kris Henry at email@example.com or via Twitter @Kris_Henry
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