COOS BAY -- Led by a 5-foot-5 freshman sparkplug, the Amity Warriors fought their way back from an 11-point halftime deficit against Portland Adventist. But, the effort came up just short.
The Cougars of Portland Adventist scored their only basket of the fourth quarter with 3.3 seconds left in the game, got fouled and hit the free throw, and held on to win 46-45 in an OSAA boys basketball tournament quarterfinal game Thursday night at Marshfield High School.
Facing a formidable 2-3 zone defense by Portland Adventist, which they extend to create turnovers in bunches, Amity made a change at halftime. Trailing 25-14, head coach Justin Amaya decided to attack their zone by utilizing the Warriors' man-to-man offensive plays in the second half, to free up their shooters. One of those shooters was freshman Devin McShane.
The 5-foot-5 guard responded with eight quick points in the third quarter, part of a 12-4 run, cutting the Cougar lead to three points. It was a burst that may have surprised neutral observers, but Amaya said it was just what they were waiting for on the Amity bench.
"He's a great little player," he said, "we expect that of him, and we trust and believe in him. He's one of the future big-time players in this program," Amaya said.
The future appeared to be now, as the Warriors fought off another burst from Portland Adventist. The Cougars' own freshman, coincidentally, was doing the honors for them, as Cade Roberts knocked down back-to-back 3's. McShane and Roberts went on to tie for game-high scoring honors with 13 points each.
Amity just kept coming, however, getting big buckets from Zach Wilson and Billy Hale early in the fourth quarter as they cut whittled away a 9-point deficit.
After the game, relieved Cougars' head coach Norm Ballou credited Amity for starting to take them out of their game late in the first half, and keeping them out of it through the second. "What was the final? In the 40s? They took us out of our offense. We never got in the flow of our game, we tried to go one-on-one and that takes us out of the flow."
They may have been out of their flow offensively, but their defense and rebounding efforts were enough to win the day. After Amity grabbed their first lead at 45-43, with just over a minute to play, the Cougars were able to get off no fewer than five shots at the basket in their last possession. Finally, a put-back shot by Trent Torkelsen, after digging out a rebound, struck paydirt. A foul called on the shot, with 3 seconds still left to play, provided the winning margin when Torkelsen sank the free throw.
The Warriors got one good toss towards the basket, from the top of the key as time expired, but it was not to be Amity's night.
While Torkelsen's coach may have had some concerns down the stretch, the player said after the game that he felt the outcome was never in doubt. "I felt it was our game to win and we did," he said.
Torkelsen said he was just doing his job down the stretch, getting into rebounding position and putting it back when the opportunity fell to him. The foul shot was another matter. Tied at 45, with a chance to win it, he stayed confident.
Although when asked if he had ever been in that kind of position before, with the game on the line, his wide-eyed look told the tale before the word "no" escaped his mouth. But, he knew his teammates were with him.
"The whole team was behind me," he said, "so I got that support."
And in return, the whole team had his support when they needed it most.
Portland Adventist will play the winner of De La Salle and Cascade Christian at 3:15 p.m. in the first semifinal Friday at Marshfield. Amity will be taking on the loser in the consolation bracket game, starting at 10:45 a.m. at North Bend High School.