The Taft High girls varsity basketball team fell to Oakridge 45-37 Thursday night in the Taft Kiwanis Holiday Tournament despite double-digit scoring from Claira Tolan and Autumn Ellis.
“We came out and played a good first quarter, but our second and third quarters we struggled to make shots and turned the ball over too many times,” Taft coach Jake Tolan said of the team’s home opener.
Taft (2-6) trailed 30-15 entering the fourth quarter, when it began to play better, cutting the lead to 33-30, said Tolan, whose Tigers tallied 23 fourth-quarter points.
“We came up short as Oakridge was able to secure the lead and the victory at the foul line,” he said.
The Taft girls play again Friday at 11:30 a.m. against Waldport, which fell Thursday to La Pine, 33-27. Toledo beat Harrisburg 43-31 in Thursday’s other tournament game.
The Taft boys (4-4) beat Oakridge 55-44 Thursday and will play Waldport at 8:15 p.m. Friday.
In other boys tourney action Thursday, Waldport defeated La Pine 67-47 and Toledo defeated Harrisburg, 89-49.
Taft boys Coach Andy Morgan’s comments:
“On the court at Taft Elementary, the Taft Tiger boys basketball team hosted Oakridge in their opening game of the Taft Kiwanis Holiday Tournament. Because of weather, our first home game vs. Warrenton was rescheduled, making this our first game of the year in our hometown — though we have still not played a game on our home court. Six full weeks into the season, Taft will be ready for a game on familiar hardwood.
“After another miserably slow start, the Tigers found themselves behind to Oakridge, 10-4 after the first period. Short-handed again, as Trenton Fisher has yet to return to the team from illness, a broken hand continues to sideline Lucas Hindman, and Tyee Fisher is away for family considerations. A coach’s decision moved Fco Ramos to a starting responsibility, as the starting point guard. This move placed Eli DeMello into the role as a mentor, from the wing position. Finishing out the starting roster was big man Ray Darrington at low-post, William Brooks at the high post, and prolific scoring threat Jordan Hall at the wing.
“The team made some offensive adjustments over the holiday week, focusing on the potency of Darrington down low. After a bumpy first quarter adjusting to the changes, the Tiger defense got things going in the second quarter — leading to adding 15 points to the quiet first quarter total of six — Darrington leading the way with 10 in the half.
“In the second quarter, following a rest, floor general DeMello found Darrington for some easy scores at the rim. Pressure by the visiting team from Oakridge caused some temporary difficulties for the Tiger ball-handlers. Some in-game adjustments brought some composure to the Tigers, as did the defensive success from increased effort. Hall and Brooks helped add to the Tigers’ third quarter improvements by adding a 3-point goal apiece. At the half, the game was deadlocked at 21 — as the Tigers had come alive, feeling great about the prospects of the second half.
“A 16- point third quarter put the Tigers ahead, encouraged by continued successes on the defensive end of the court. A 3-pointer by Hall, and three offensive rebounds — converted to points by Darrington — led to a six-point lead after the third. DeMello was instrumental on the offensive end, leading the charge, and finding teammates open for good scoring opportunities. Ramos, and his huge defensive effort, were suffocating the visiting opponents. Fco has quick hands and a fearlessness that can lead the Tigers in the hustle department.
“A 10-for-11 effort from the charity stripe helped the Tigers to an 18-point effort in the fourth quarter. Outscoring Oakridge by five in the final frame, led the Tigers to an 11-point victory. While Taft was faced with four fouls apiece among three Tiger starters, intensity and hustle were not forfeited by the team. While the game was not complete, in terms of execution and effort, it was another step in the right direction for Taft.
“The team’s conviction and fearlessness are goals, and we definitely faced some challenging opportunities. We look to clean things up, and complete a game without the lapses, and continue to grow as individuals in order to serve the team. At times we become too centrally focused on pieces of work, rather than the complete goals we have set. There are two more games this weekend, before the Tigers play their first league opponent. The boys are building their case to become the dominant team in our league.”