Phil Vesel couldn’t have drawn up his first HRV coaching victory any better.
Even if he had sat down and mapped out a perfect scenario for his Eagles against No. 8-ranked Clackamas on Saturday, Vesel may not have come up with a more perfect result.
Led by a dominant team defensive performance and Andy Holmson’s 27 points, the Eagles systematically dismantled the Cavaliers, 77-52, in a win that was anything but cavalier.
“We talked about how we wanted to open at home,” Vesel said, “and this kind of effort was exactly what I had envisioned from these guys.
“Our defense really took them out of what they were trying to do, and they just didn’t have an answer.”
HRV guards Sam Murillo, Tyler Monzie and Jarrod Fogle completely shut down the No. 2 scorer in the state, Tyson Papenfuss (28 ppg) — holding him to just six points — while post players Todd Shypertt, Mitchell Bohn and Heath Goin cancelled out the Cavaliers’ twin towers inside.
“We did an excellent job of being aggressive and staying aggressive throughout all four quarters,” Vesel said. “Our game plan was to clog the lane and just outwork them. And that’s what happened.”
HRV’s interior defense effectively neutralized 6-foot, 11-inch Adonal Arrington and 6-foot, 7-inch Matt Storms by keeping the ball out of the lane and outhustling them on the boards.
Goin grabbed nine rebounds (unofficially) and Shypertt had five to lead the Eagles. Bohn, Fogle and Ryan Pratt also played bigger than their roster sizes, frustrating the oversized Cavaliers into altering their shots and turning the ball over.
“We worked on our ‘D’ all week and it really paid off,” said Fogle. “The ‘one-three chaser’ helped us shut down one of the top scorers in the state, but we know our work is far from over.
“This is a good take-off point for us. Now we need to ride it into the playoffs,” he said.
Fogle and the Eagles hope that a convincing win over such a well-regarded club like Clackamas will propel them toward their first-ever 4A playoff berth.
However, no one on the team is going to look too far ahead. The seven returning varsity players remember what happened last year after they defeated a top-10 team.
When HRV beat then-No. 9 Central Catholic on Jan. 3, they turned around and lost six straight before finishing the season on the outside looking in.
“We have a long, long way to go,” Vesel said. “We have to remember that we’re still 1-2. This win is merely a stepping stone in the right direction.”
Vesel will see how his guys respond this week when they face David Douglas (Tuesday in Portland, results not available at press time), Gresham (Thursday at home) and Franklin (Saturday at home).
He knows that they will be severely tested against the 2001-02 Mt. Hood Conference champs, David Douglas, as well as Gresham, which boasts the current 4A scoring leader, Scott Gallagher (29.6 ppg). But Vesel also knows that his system works, and if everyone on the team buys in, there is no limit to how high they can fly.
“It can be tough when you lose a couple games because the kids start to doubt the offense,” said Vesel, who is stressing a more patient, structured offensive set than in the past.
“Now that we’ve got our first win out of the way, they’re starting to believe that the system really works.”
Shypertt is one of the growing list of believers.
“We’re just going to keep doing the same things this week,” he said. “We had a chance to look at our offense more this game, and it’s all starting to make sense now.”
The senior forward realizes that if the Eagles are to make a playoff run in the Intermountain Conference — a league that features the No. 10 team in the state, Redmond — they will need to work even harder than the competition.
“We’re the smallest team in the league, so we know we have to step it up an extra step,” said Shypertt, who is listed at 6-foot, 2 inches — third tallest on the team behind Brian Crosswhite (6’4”) and Goin (6’3”).
“But I like taking on the big guys because the bigger they are, the harder they stumble,” he said.
Shypertt put those words into action on Saturday, battling Arrington and Storms in the lane all game long to tally 17 points. What’s more, nine of those came on three-point plays — two which led off the fourth quarter to give HRV a 56-40 lead.
“Shyp” may have earned player of the game honors if it weren’t for Holmson’s dominant performance. But few in attendance would argue that Holmson’s effort on both ends of the floor was anything short of perfect.
“Andy did a great job of breaking the press and finding the open man,” Vesel said. “They wanted to trap him, but he just blew by them time after time.”
HRV 77, Clackamas 52
HRV — Holmson 27, Shypertt 17, Bohn 11, Goin 11, Fogle 5, Murillo 4, Monzie 2