Guest Gamer: Red Devils Finish Off Fatigued Clippers
Friend of Oly Sports, Jordan Nailon of Olympia Power and Light and The Chronicle, filed this gamer from the South Puget Sound/Lower Columbia game on Wednesday night. Big thanks to him and please follow @ChronNailon on Twitter.
OLYMPIA – The Red Devils overcame an early 12 point deficit and avenged their worst loss of the season here Wednesday night as they toppled the Clippers by a score of 60-49 in NWAACC conference action.
South Puget Sound gave Lower Columbia fits in the early going with their all zone all the time defensive front. Facing the unfamiliar scheme, the Red Devils looked confused and uncomfortable in their zone offense and continually settled for long range three point attempts during the first ten minutes of action.
Despite their awkwardness, LCC managed to carve out an early 5-1 lead, but then the well went dry and SPSCC slowly turned the tables. Slanblaytee Kaye and Jonathan Roberts led the Clippers charge in the first half, and the duo slowly turned a their four point deficit into a 12 point, 20-8 lead with 7 minutes to go in the half.
“They’re just quicker than us,” said Roffler. “That’s what they did special.”
“We knew coming in that they were quick and we said we were going to force them to the middle, and’ you’ve got guys getting beat to the outside three times in a row. That’s just inexperience on our part. That’s just bad basketball.”
One possession later, after Cameron Howell connected from deep for LCC, Red Devils coach Jim Roffler called timeout. Despite Howell’s make, Roffler was tired of the outside shooting and in no uncertain terms, instructed his team to start getting the ball into their post players and attacking the soft middle of the zone.
“That’s not all on our perimeter guys,” said Roffler of his team’s abundance of early three point attempts. “When guys aren’t getting in position at the exact right time, then you’re got hesitation, and that hesitation will cost you against a good team, either with a turnover, or a ‘Well he was open, but not anymore.’”
With the offensive adjustment and a bout of foul trouble afflicting the shorthanded Clippers, who dressed 7 but played only 6, LCC managed a 13 point swing and reclaimed the lead at 23-22 with 25 second left in the half when Sherif Taha connected on a round the wheel corner three.
“We just started listening to coach and executing,” said Red Devil guard Phillip Jalapoor of the adjustments that turned the tide against the Clippers. “Just the way they play is weird, with their guards up top and always attacking. It’s just a weird game.”
Out of the half, LCC looked ready to take control of the game when they went on a 4-0 run, but one SPSCC free throw and a Kaye three pointer re-knotted the game at 27 all. The game would be tied twice more, once at 30 and again at 32 with 15 minutes remaining in the game, before LCC began to put real distance between themselves and the Clippers.
Playing with a short crew as they have all season, fatigue and foul trouble began to take its toll on SPSCC. Shots that were falling in the first half were coming up short and entry passes to the post regularly bounced off of brick-hard hands. By the end of the game, four of the six SPSCC players were hampered with four fouls.
With SPSCC struggling, LCC slowed the pace down and ate up clock, while converting easy layups off of backdoor cuts or shooting free throws when the Clippers were forced to foul. In the 15 minutes of game time after the teams were tired at 32, LCC outscored the Clippers 28-17.
The Red Devils were led by Sherif Taha, who finished with 15 points, while Cameron Howell added 12 and Manu Niu contributed 10 points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
Jalapoor, who added 7 points and four rebounds emphasized the importance of this win for his team, saying, “We had to get it back. They got that one win against us and we had to get it back. It was a must, must win for us.”
Roffler put it in different terms. “I think every game we play this year is interesting. We’re just so young.” He added that due to illness and injuries, “It’s been really difficult to have the continuity with this young program.”
“It’s not pretty, but we just try to grind it out.”
The Clippers were led in scoring by River Ridge graduate, Jonathan Roberts, who had 23 points. Slanblaytee Kaye added 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists for the Clippers in the loss.
RED DEVILS 60, CLIPPERS 49
Lower Columbia CC 23 37 – 60
South Puget Sound CC 22 27 – 49
Lower Columbia CC (60) – Howell 12, Tucker 7, Drey, Jalapoor 7, Taha 15, Dupree, Niu 10, Parrot 2, Trafelet, Burright 7
FG: 19 of 54 – .352 FT: 15 of 25 – .600 Reb: 50 (Niu 11)
South Puget Sound CC (49) – Tyson 7, Roberts 23, Kaye 11, Liebelt 3, Logan, McGurkin 5
FG: 15 of 55 – .273 FT: 10 of 18 – .556 Reb: 36 (McGurkin 11)