STANFIELD — The Stanfield boys’ basketball team would have lost a fortune to a phone company with all the long distance they used in Saturday’s basketball game against Oakridge. Instead, the Tigers (18-9) won themselves a first-round playoff game 77-59.
The win sends the Tigers to the Pendleton Convention Center to face East Linn Christian (25-3, 12-2 Tri-River Conference) in the quarterfinals of the state tournament. That game tips at 1:30 p.m. on Thursday, March 1. Oakridge was eliminated with the loss.
To extend their season another game, Stanfield connected on 14 shots from 3-point range — eight of them in the first half — and the Warriors (17-9) couldn’t combat the artillery. The Tigers scored 55 percent of their points from beyond the arc and wouldn’t hesitate to throw up a ball from 24 feet if given the room to do so.
The Tigers, the second-place finishers from the Blue Mountain Conference, grabbed momentum by the throat to start the game. They scored on each of their first three possessions while forcing turnovers the first four times Oakridge handled the ball. The lead didn’t hold up for long as the Warriors battled back in the first half using their size. A second-quarter shootout ensued with each team dropping 21 points.
The Mountain View Conference’s Warriors thrived offensively on back-door passes to one of their post players that led to easy layups. Jared Phearson, a 6-foot-2 Oakridge freshman, exploited the height difference to score 16 points on 7-of-8 shooting all before half. No starter for Stanfield stood above 5-10.
Phearson, or fearsome as opponents will likely be calling him for the next three years, ran wild without the Tigers’ usual starting post Koty Kamm in the game. A season-ending ankle injury sidelined Kamm in the team’s last game.
The Tigers defense shifted focus onto Phearson after halftime to try and cut down on the advantage. The badgering worked as he scored just one point after the half.
“A big part of it was my fault. I had guys this short on me,” he said, holding his hand out to measure a shoulder-tall invisible defender. “I couldn’t get position and couldn’t make my lay-ins.”
The post led the Warriors with 17 points and eight boards.
Without a big to funnel the offense through, the Warriors soon lost ground. Stanfield ran the lead out to 20 points before Oakridge coach Larry Boyd finally waved the white flag with two minutes to play, sending in five reserves to finish the game.
Life could get tough for the Tigers in the tournament if they struggle shooting 3s, Stanfield senior Devin Bailey said. The team has some dribble-and-drive possibilities but they lack a key component in the inside game.
“It’s not like were going to feed (5-foot-9 Devin) Haefer on a big post up or something,” Bailey joked. “Let’s hope our shots are falling.”
Bailey led all scorers with 28 points, including five 3-pointers, and also had nine rebounds. Eddy Ramos also scored 19 points.