By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Spartans win first league game, improve to 7-5

The scoreboard showed the Bulldogs (1-13, 0-4) lost to the Spartans (7-5, 1-2) 59-33, but what it didn’t show was the emergence of a team leader the Bulldogs can look to and rely on in times of need going forward: Tyson Jahn. An elusive and explosive running back during the fall, he is also a long-range marksman for basketball during the winter.

Still, Jahn’s shooting didn’t help the Bulldogs early in the first half Wednesday vs. the Spartans.

“It felt like there was a lid on the hoop in that first half,” Willamina coach Jereme Park said. “Usually we shoot the ball a little bit better.”

The Bulldogs struggled and scored four points in the first half, while Sheridan ended the half with 28. Four of the Spartans’ five starters all finished with five or more points. Joey Hertel led Sheridan with 16 points and five rebounds.

“We didn’t give them any rebounds,” Sheridan coach James Denton said. “We didn’t give them any second chances, and that was important for us.”

As the second half started, Jahn said he knew it was time to step up and lead his team though the 28-4 first half.

Jahn took the floor and hit three straight 3-pointers on Willamina’s first three possessions prompting Denton to take a quick timeout.

“Defensive strategy,” Denton said of his words to his team during the timeout. “Our guy that was coming out to cover (Jahn), you have to know where he’s at. If you have to get out and cheat on him a bit, you have to do that.”

The message was different on the Willamina bench. Park jokingly hollered “Someone get Tyson some water, he’s on fire.”

After scoring nine points in two and a half minutes, Jahn added five more to finish with 14 points and a steal.

“He’s definitely the leader of our team,” Park said. “We have plenty of guys that can score, he just happened to be the guy tonight with the hot hand.”

When the second half started, Willamina turned to a 2-3 zone defense and full-court press, and it helped the Bulldogs produce turnovers and points.

The zone and press caused Sheridan to commit 11 turnovers and points also came from Brandon Hubbell (4) and Braden Ebensteiner (7).

The combination gave Willamina 19 points in the third quarter and 10 in the fourth.

“We talked at the half and we decided we weren’t giving up,” Jahn said. “We knew the crowd would be on their side, and we just had to work through it.”

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