Tigers on top in Cowapa
Friday, in the Yamhill-Carlton’s 68-51 win vs. Scappoose (8-9, 3-1), the Indians exposed Y-C’s most troublesome part of its game: Rebounding.
Despite winning the game, Yamhill-Carlton (9-7, 4-0) gave up 15 offensive rebounds, which resulted in 24 second-chance points for Scappoose.
“Rebounding has got to get better,” Y-C coach Gary McCulloch said. “That’s what we talked about tonight after the game. I’m striving for perfect, and if you want to win league you have to box out and get those rebounds. We didn’t do a good job tonight with that.”
The Tigers play at 5:30 p.m. tonight at Seaside.
The majority of the offensive rebounds collected by the Indians came in the third quarter (9).
The Tigers went into halftime with a 34-21 lead, its largest of the first two quarters. The lack of aggressiveness on the boards in the third quarter allowed Scappoose to go on a 16-1 run and catch the Tigers at 36-36.
The players on the floor knew the lapse in rebounding was important and could have cost them the game.
“We had a lapse in the third quarter defensively,” said Yamhill-Carlton big man Jon Clark, who finished with 17 points. “We talked about it after the game, and the adjustments we have to make in practice with (defense) and rebounds.”
The Tigers struggled in the third quarter, allowing nine offensive rebounds and finished the quarter shooting 3-of-13. The Indians switched from man to a 1-3-1 zone defense, which prevented Yamhill-Carlton from getting in the paint, a crucial part of its game.
“Once they switched to the zone,” said Gabe Findley, who finished with a team-leading 19 points and two rebounds, “it gave us problems, and we weren’t able to move the ball in the post like we wanted.”
The Tigers were able to find a few opportunities through the zone and held on to a 41-38 lead going to the fourth quarter. The Scappoose zone forced 10 Y-C turnovers through three quarters.
Yamhill-Carlton had another problem. It abandoned its run-and-gun, up-tempo offense in the third quarter and ran a slow, half-court offense.
Clark said it wasn’t a team decision to slow it down, it was more of a complement to the Indians’ zone defense that forced the offensive switch.
“I’m not really sure why it slowed down all the sudden,” Clark said. “I think it was more of a mental thing for us on the court when shots weren’t going in.”
In between quarters three and four, McCulloch said he told the Tigers they had to bring the defense if they wanted to win. It was a subtle reminder that Yamhill-Carlton is ranked last in the Cowapa League with 929 points allowed.
“In between quarters I stressed defense,” McCulloch said. “The saying that it ‘wins championships’ is absolutely true, and I told them if they want to win the game and league, defense has to come back.”
The defense, and up-tempo, foot on the gas, aggressive offensive attack reemerged in the fourth as a result of McCulloch’s motivational speech.
It came back so strong that Scappoose point guard Zach Smith and Coach Rahim Tufts were each hit with a technical foul out of pure frustration during the Tigers’ run in the fourth.
Within the first couple minutes the Tigers grabbed a 50-47 lead when McCulloch’s words about aggression finally settled in.
With 6 minutes, 48 seconds left, Yamhill-Carlton guard Landon Haryford got the ball inside to Clark, who found a wide open Findley on the right elbow. Clark fed Findley, who knocked down the 3-pointer to give Y-C a 53-47 lead.
Findley came down again moments later and hit an identical 3-pointer to his last one, giving the Tigers a 58-49 lead. The two shots sparked the offense, and Y-C went on a 15-2 run to end the game.
“Yeah, it kind of just got me and my teammates pumped up,” said Findley of his two clutch 3-point shots. “And I just kept telling the guys to dish it over to me. I was getting hot, and wanted to get us a win.”
McCulloch said the 3-point makes were big moments in the game that Yamhill-Carlton desperately needed.
“Gabe was big for us tonight.” McCulloch said. “He can attack from anywhere, he’s so quick. We’re more of an attack team than a 3-point shooting team, but he got some good open looks and knocked them down.”
With the win, the Tigers are 7-1 in January, and are atop the Cowapa League standings, which is a mammoth improvement from last season.
At this time a year ago, Y-C was 3-4 in January, and finished the season 10-14. McCulloch said there are too many games left to be over-confident.
“Every team in our league is pretty even in terms of skill,” McCulloch said. “We need to worry about our next game with Seaside. You have to give that effort every game. If we have that effort, we’ll do okay.”