Needing a win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Tillamook High Cheesemakers boys basketball team came close to accomplishing their goal in a key Class 4A Cowapa League matchup Feb. 20 against the Valley Catholic Valiants.
The Mooks felt confident prior to the the game, particularly since they won 54-47 at home Feb. 4 over the Valiants and they were hoping for a repeat performance.
Tillamook (3-5 Cowapa League, 10-13 overall) trailed by nine points in the fourth quarter and had a chance to get a victory. However the Valiants (3-5 league, 6-15) made some clutch shots near the end of the game to hold on for a 54-43 win last Thursday at Valley Catholic High School in Beaverton.
The disappointing season ending defeat eliminated coach Johnny Begin’s Cheesemaker squad from playoff contention.
“We came in here expecting to win and that was our mindset prior to the game,” said Begin. It was a really physical game, which kind of surprised us because we didn’t expect to see that happen. They (Valiants) controlled the tempo of the game by playing very aggressively and playing more physical than we did. In most cases the team that does that generally wins the game. It’s now an opportunity for our us to reflect on the good things that happened this year. We hosted our first ever tournament with the Roby’s Invitational and we won that event, so there’s lots of good things that the kids will remember from this season. The bar is set really high for Tillamook basketball and we know what we need to do to get better for next season.”
Tillamook took the initial lead when sophomore post Marshall Allen (team-high 13 points) scored on a jumper in the post area, making it 2-0 early in the first quarter. Valley Catholic then came back with a 12-0 run to take a 12-2 lead. The Valiants increased the margin to 16-5, forcing a Tillamook timeout with 1:36 remaining in the quarter.
“We came back and we fought hard and we started getting our offense going a little better, but we just couldn’t overcome their (Valiants) lead,” said Allen. “We our momentum in the fourth quarter and we had a tough time at the end of the game.”
Valley Catholic extended its lead to 19-7 at the end of the first quarter and then went on top 21-7 early in the second. The Cheesemakers then fought back with a 15-4 run. Allen and Kellen Shelley (seven pts.) contributed in the offensive surge along with guard Tyson Wilkes (two pts.), who fired in a jumper from the free throw line, trimming the deficit to 25-22. The Valiants then built a 28-22 halftime advantage.
“Valley Catholic always plays tough at home and those guys played awesome,” said Shelley, a senior playing the final game of his Tillamook High career along with Wilkes, Kaleb Boomer (three pts.) and Ethan Miller. “Whenever we come here, it seems like they (Valiants) just play a different kind of basketball. Sometimes things go your way and sometimes they don’t and that was the case tonight. It was a big game and we knew that there was a lot of pressure on us to try and get a win.”
The two evenly matched squads traded baskets early in the third as VC remained in front 30-24 after Allen scored on a layup. The Valiants then extended their advantage to 37-27 after three quarters.
“ Our seniors this year were just an incredible group of kids who provided great leadership,” said Begin. “Tillamook basketball is all about winning with class and losing with dignity. That’s what we did this season. We left our hearts out there in every game and I’m really proud of this group. As long as the kids competed, then I didn’t care whether we won, lost. It’s been an awesome year and I’m really going to miss this group of seniors. “
After the teams traded baskets, VC led 39-29 with 5:41 left in the game. Following a Valiant basket making it 41-29, Veek-Petersen sank a three-pointer from the top of the arc, trimming it to 41-32. If the Cheesemakers could’ve made three more of those long range shots, then they would’ve had a great chance to win.
Unfortunately, it turned out to be the turning point of the contest as the momentum shifted in the Valiants favor as they responded with a 9-0 run to take a 50-32 lead. Tillamook had a late rally, led by Miller (six pts.), while outscoring VC 11-4 in the final two minutes, but it wasn’t enough to get a much needed come-from-behind win that probably would’ve helped propell them to the playoffs.
“It was a tough game, but we came out here and tried our best in our last game,” said Miller. “They (Valiants) played really well and it’s always hard to win on the road. We always have a high level of confidence in every game, but you have to respect the other team no matter what the situation is and you can’t take anything for granted. This is a good group of kids that I’ve enjoyed playing basketball with and I’m going to miss all of them. It was a good season and we had lots of fun.”
Valley Catholic 54, Tillamook 43
Valley Catholic 19 9 9 17 - 54
Tillamook 7 15 5 16 - 43
Tillamook (43) - Marshall Allen 13, Trask Veek-Petersen 12, Kellen Shelley 7, Ethan Miller 6, Kaleb Boomer 3, Tyson Wikes 2.