By Jerod Young • Jerod Young • 

Y-C boys keep up hot play in January

YAMHILL — The month of January has been very kind to the Tigers boys basketball program.

Yamhill-Carlton (6-7, 1-0) kept the good month alive Tuesday with its first league win, 58-43, over Banks (3-10, 0-1). The Tigers, it seemed, were thrilled to see the month of December end. They went 2-5 during the month, and struggled to find offense and a team identity.

Since Jan. 1, the Tigers have won 4-of-5 and are now one game under the .500 mark with the heavy Cowapa League schedule coming in full force.

“January has really been good to us,” Y-C coach Gary McCulloch said. “Our defense has really stepped up and we’ve really been putting pressure on teams. I can’t say enough about our defense and how it’s gotten so much better.”

Yamhill-Carlton has surrendered the most points allowed in the Cowapa League (761), but it’s the defense that has closed out games during this stretch. Two of the wins came in overtime, both of them two-point wins, but it was a 51-38 loss last Friday at Gladstone that came as a reality check to the Tigers.

“We didn’t play particularly well there,” McCulloch said. “But that was the game that we realized that our defense can be very good, it was our offense that had trouble that night.”

Yamhill-Carlton responded Tuesday by forcing 14 turnovers and showing a new offense and identity: the fast break. The combination sent a wave of confusion over the Braves and forced Banks into five first quarter turnovers. The Tigers finished the game with 30 fast break points as a result of the new offense. McCulloch said Y-C is at their best when running the fast break, an element that struggled in December.

“We’re going to be successful when we rely on our strengths,” McCulloch said. “That’s quickness and getting down the floor, and we’ve been stressing that as much as we can. That’s what we’re good at.”

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