BAKER CITY — Hot-shooting, strong-rebounding Horizon Christian School toppled Triad 75-59 in Thursday’s first round of the Class 1A state basketball tournament at Baker City High School.
The Hawks shot 57 percent from the field and enjoyed a 44-19 rebound advantage against the smaller, but aggressive Timberwolves from Klamath Falls. The win put Horizon in Friday’s 8:15 p.m. semifinal game against top-seeded Country Christian. (Results were unavailable at press time.) Big Sky Conference rival Sherman County faced McKenzie in Friday’s other semifinal.
“Our players were motivated to play them again; they came out inspired because it was Triad,” Coach Darrin Lingel said.
Triad ended Horizon’s title run last season on a last-second, desperation three-pointer at the final buzzer. There would be no such heroics for the T-Wolves this year, as Horizon controlled the game from the outset and built a 25-point lead at one point in the second half.
“We dealt with their pressure fairly well. We effectively passed the ball well and we got some easy looks early,” Lingel said of his team’s ability to control the game.
Senior wing Sam Anthony led all scorers with 22 points. Anthony was 2-for-3 in the first half on three pointers, and senior guard Max Totaro was 2-for-2 from beyond the arc. The Hawks finished 6-for-10 on three-pointers.
Triad appeared to be focusing on stopping Horizon sophomore wing Matt Totaro, which gave older brother, Max, and Anthony room to shoot from long range. Matt Totaro likes to roam the key area, where his mid-range jumper and slashes to the basket are most effective.
“I saw they were giving a lot of attention to Matt, so that gave us some open looks from the outside,” Max Totaro said.
Matt Totaro was his steady self, contributing another double-double: 19 points and 12 rebounds. Junior 6-foot-7 post Jake Wells was a force inside, with 12 points, eight rebounds and two blocks.
Matt Totaro said when Horizon can control the boards, it usually will win the game.
“That’s been important for us this season, especially limiting our opponents to second-chance points,” the 6-foot-4 Totaro said.
Horizon took a 39-31 halftime lead into the locker room, despite 13 turnovers. The Hawks did a much better job taking care of the ball in the third period, when they built a 22-point lead.
“The third quarter was our key quarter,” Lingel said. “I felt that we came out and really looked inside; we didn’t settle for the outside shot. We had some nice opportunities on the inside — lots of twos.”
Horizon got a scoring burst from guard Micah Engel in the third period, when he scored all five of his points, including a three-pointer to give his team its 22-point margin.
Lingel said his team is anticipating another rematch in the semifinals against Country Christian of Molalla. The Hawks defeated Country in December.
“We’re looking forward to the game tomorrow,” Lingel said. “We’ve played them before and were successful. But they’re a good basketball team.”
Country advanced to the semifinals with a win over Imbler in Thursday’s first round.