Once the glare of the lights on the big stage had subsided, the CS Lewis Christian Watchmen found a much tougher opponent than their own nerves at the Rose Garden Monday night: The Horizon Christian defense.
The Hawks forced the watchmen into turnover after turnover in a crucial third quarter run that led Horizon to a 59-47 win over the Watchmen.
The Hawks outscored the Watchmen 19-9 in the quarter after leading by four at halftime.
"We had a good stretch in the third quarter and that really helped us," Horizon coach Darrin Lingel said. "We had a good flow going there."
The Horizon run was punctuated by a steal and lay up by Jordan Anderson to extend the lead to 13 points. A minute later, a Tanner Pettit came up with another steal and passed to Andrew Stenberg who deftly zipped a touch pass to Sam Anthony for a lay-up and a free throw to push the margin to 19 points late in the quarter.
Freshman Matt Totaro recovered from a shaky start to lead the Hawks with 19 points, while Anderson had 14 points and Anthony ten.
The Watchmen rallied in the final minutes of the game behind a strong effort by Seth Buck, who led all scores with 20 points.
Buck scored nine of his 20 in the final quarter and then got a little help from his friends to whittle the Horizon lead to single digits.
An NBA three pointer by Drew Littlefield pulled C.S Lewis to within 54-44 with 2:35 to play and a lay-up by Colton Saunders made it 54-46 with two minutes left.
That would be as close as the Watchmen got though as Horizon iced the game on a Matt Totaro jumper for a 57-46 lead with 57 seconds left.
"It was ugly but it was a W," Lingel said.
Both teams struggled in the first half to get used to playing under the bright lights of the arena and to find their shooting touches.
Multiple three point attempts were air balled and both teams had stretched of sloppy play.
"I think for me its kind of normal now," Horizon's Andrew Stenberg said of his fourth game in the building. "You could see some of the guys had them (nerves) though because there were so many shots falling short."
The Hawks began to recover from the nervousness first, with Pettit hitting a three-pointer for an eight-point lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Hawks began to pull away to start the second quarter, leading by as much as nine, but Buck led a CS Lewis charge to reel them in.
He hit a lay-up and converted a foul shot with 1:13 to go to cut the deficit to 25-21 in what would turn out to be the final points of the first half.
Anderson said the team had almost forgotten what it was like to play in the Rose Garden after playing so much basketball in the last year and that led to some of the shakiness in the first half.
"We played so much basketball over the summer that we forgot what the Rose Garden was like," he said.
While the bright lights and the fact that their were rows and rows of seats behind the hoop instead of a wall threw his team off for awhile, Lingel said the three pointers were not the issue -- the rest of his teams execution was in the first half - and it will be something they have to learn to live with if they hope to go deep in the postseason.
"You know if we would have made those NBA range lay-ups (in the first half) we would have been up by 15 at halftime," Lingel said. "The biggest thing about this for us is it shows our guys what district will be like and what state will be like."
In addition to beating CS Lewis Monday the Hawks stayed unbeaten in league play over the weekend by trouncing both Arlington (68-22) and South Wasco (87-52).
• Meanwhile the Horizon girls won their second league game with a 45-29 win over Arlington before dropping a hard fought game 31-22 to South Wasco Saturday.
"We worked on a lot of things and threw everything we had at them," Horizon coach Stan Perkins said of the Arlington game. "Now we just have to learn how to go into transition off our press."
The Horizon teams host Sherman Friday before playing at Griswold Saturday.