After starting its season at 3-4, the North Douglas boys basketball team has gotten defensive. Literally.
The Warriors have gone 6-1 since that difficult start, and it’s been their defense that has shined in many of their wins.
North Douglas squared off with Damascus Christian last week and the Warriors felt strong about their chances of adding another win to their hot streak since the Eagles came into the game with just a 1-6 record.
While the Eagles were able to keep it close early in the game, trailing 5-4, North Douglas was able to take complete control from there while holding a 19-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. That breathing room came in large part to senior Logan Gant, who scored 9 points in the quarter for the Warriors.
The second quarter got off to an electrifying start when Gant connected with senior Ray Gerrard on an alley-oop slam dunk, sending the North Douglas crowd into a frenzy. But it was the Warriors’ defense that allowed North Douglas to dominate the game, not allowing the Eagles to score in the second quarter until there was just 2:40 remaining before the half.
Damascus Christian scored just 4 points in the second quarter and didn’t get any better for the Eagles in the fourth. The Warriors, who led 40-10 at halftime, forced turnovers and took advantage of multiple fast break opportunities in the second half to continue building on their already sizeable lead.
It took Damascus Christian until nearly midway through the third period to score again, when freshman Levi Schell found the basket. But from there, the Warriors put on a show for the home fans, scoring on multiple dunks and clearing the bench to give the starts some rest. The Warriors walked away with an 80-17 win at the end. The Eagles, meanwhile, scored just two shot attempts in the second half, with the remainder of their points scored from the free throw line.
It was the second in a three-game stretch during which the Warriors held their opponent to 17 points or less. The first was against Yoncalla on Jan. 10, followed by their match-up with Glendale on Friday, Jan. 13, in a lopsided 82-11 win. In the 6-1 seven-game stretch, North Douglas gave up just a little over 30 points per game.
“We’ve improved. It [defense] hasn’t always been our strength but we’ve had pretty solid defense and our offense has sometimes struggled,” said Warriors head coach Jesse Leman. “It’s nice when we are doing that and when we can turn our defense into offense.”
Ray Gerrard led the Warriors with 16 points and contributed two blocks. Keagan Mast scored 16 points while Logan Gant added 15 points for North Douglas.
The Warriors went onto beat South Wasco County 66-50 following their win over the Eagles. The team hosted Mohawk on Tuesday night where they won 71-37. They next face Powers tonight at home in a return to league play that begins at 7:30 p.m. North Douglas now holds a 10-5 overall record.
“We feel like we had a few get a way [at the start of the season], but it’s one game at a time,” Leman added. “We are hoping we can keep trending upward and finish the year strong to put us in a good position to make it to Baker. Once we are there, we think we can play with anybody.”
At the 3A level, the Creswell Bulldogs basketball team fell to 10-3 overall after a 54-59 loss to Dayton. It was a battle of two top-10 teams in the OSAA rankings. Dayton has just one loss on the season at this point. The Bulldogs hosted Siuslaw on Wednesday (After press deadlines) and play at Sisters tonight (Jan. 20).
The Cottage Grove Lions boys’ basketball team had a 10-day stretch where they played no games, but then travled to Elmira on Tuesday, where they won 49-35. Cottage Grove is now 8-7 overall. The team hosts Marshfield tonight (Jan. 20) at home in their league opener, which tips off at 5:45 p.m.