By Robert Husseman • Sports Editor • 

Amity holds Taft at an arm's length

AMITY -- To the Amity boys basketball team, Taft has been the opponent that would not go away.

The Warriors had split their two Class 3A West Valley League contests with the Tigers, falling to them in Lincoln City on Jan. 16. In Thursday night's WVL playoff game, Taft stayed within six points of Amity for the first three quarters.

"We've been talking about it all week -- it's going to come down to the fourth quarter, whatever team could keep their composure," Warriors coach Justin Amaya said. "If it came down to free throws, I knew that our kids could make free throws."

In the end, Amity performed well on both accounts. The Warriors played patient basketball in the second half, committing just three turnovers, and hit all four of their attempted free throws in the final 34 seconds of the game. It was enough to give Amity the 48-37 victory over the Tigers and incite cheers from the Amity High School crowd.

Devin McShane made his first two shots of the game -- both from beyond the arc -- and finished with 18 points, leading all scorers.

"We came out really stiff," Amaya said. "Devin really saved us. He kept us relaxed."

Amity (16-9, 8-6 WVL) needed that break. The Warriors opened the game on an 8-3 run but struggled to control the tempo against Taft (9-17, 4-10 WVL). The Tigers employed 2-3 and 1-3-1 zones that forced Amity to reset its offense multiple times during possessions, chewing up clock.

"They dive for every loose ball," McShane said. "They keep their hands up at all times, which makes the court seem smaller."

Lance Nelson and Jamie Stull picked up the scoring for the Warriors in the second half. Stull made four of the seven three-pointers he attempted in the game, accounting for all 12 of his points. Nelson scored 12 of his 14 points in the second half, including eight points in the fourth quarter.

Amity held Taft to two points in a seven-minute span between the third and fourth quarters, during which time the Warriors stretched their lead to 38-31. Tigers guard Pete Lahti (10 points) made two three-pointers in the final 2:30 to excite the visiting fans, but Amity scored on its last five possessions to put Taft away.

The Warriors play Santiam Christian at noon Saturday at Central High School in Independence for the third and final WVL state playoff berth.

"Both teams," Stull said, "are going to put in their mouthpieces."


Class 3A West Valley League


Girls basketball: Westside Christian at Willamina, 7 p.m.


Boys basketball: Santiam Christian vs. Amity (3rd place game; at Central H.S.), noon

Girls basketball: TBD vs. Santiam Christian (3rd place game; at Central H.S.), 1:30 p.m.

Girls basketball: Dayton vs. Amity (Championship game; at Central H.S.), 5 p.m.

Boys basketball: Horizon Christian vs. Dayton (Championship game; at Central H.S.), 7 p.m.


Class 2A Tri-River Conference


Girls basketball: East Linn Christian vs. Regis (3rd place game; at Crescent Valley H.S.), noon

Boys basketball: Kennedy vs. Central Linn  (3rd place game; at Crescent Valley H.S.), 1:45 p.m.

Girls basketball: Kennedy vs. Western Mennonite (Championship game; at Crescent Valley H.S.), 5 p.m.

Boys basketball: Western Mennonite vs. Regis (Championship game; at Crescent Valley H.S.), 7 p.m.

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