The Gophers took on the Oregon City Pioneers on Jan. 8 at home. They beat the Pioneers in overtime, 64-59.
The game started off with chemistry teacher Cyrus Harshfield announcing the starting lineup for both teams. Starting for the Gophers were De’Vauntae Hoffman, senior point guard and wing, senior wing Austin Spicer, senior point guard Nico Estibar, junior wing Mason McCoy and senior post Ethan Hamilton.
Starting for the Pioneers were senior guard Cody Hole, senior guard Valentino Polk, sophomore wing Austin Dewitz, sophomore guard Hunter Knighton and junior post and wing Brad Martin.
The Gophers started the first quarter by winning the tip-off. The Gophers, as well as the Pioneers, started by missing a few shots.
“In terms of getting off to a good start, we always talk about winning the next eight minutes, and with that, play with poise,” head coach Mike Melton said.
Spicer came down the court with the ball and passed it off to Estibar. Dewitz for the Pioneers stole the ball and passed to Polk for a three-pointer in the middle of the first quarter.
The Gophers tried to come back on offense with a jump shot by Hoffman, but the shot was missed.
On the defensive end, McCoy came up with a clean, all ball block on Pioneer guard Knighton. The Pioneers won the ball and passed to Hole for a three-pointer but missed, late in the first quarter.
“We played well defensively and played within ourselves on the offensive end,” Melton said.
The first quarter came to an end with the Gophers ahead 14-3.
“I knew it wasn’t going to be an easy game. They were ranked higher than us, but we had a tough practice before and focused well, so I knew we were ready for whatever they were going to bring,” junior point guard Grady Walker said.
In the second quarter, the Gophers kept a good lead while the Pioneers tried to keep up. Dewitz for the Pioneers went up with a three-pointer with 6:22 left. It brought up their lead closer but the Gophers were still ahead 16-7.
Spicer brought the ball up and passed to Hamilton. Hamilton went up with a two-pointer. The score was 19-9, and the Gophers were ahead by ten points.
Knighton for the Pioneers shot a three-pointer bringing them closer to the Gophers. They both fought hard for the ball whenever they had the chance. It was 20-12 with Gophers in the lead and 1:52 left before the half.
Hamilton had a short jumper just outside the free throw line that brought the Gophers into a bigger lead.
“In terms of getting to the free throw line that was a product of not panicking with the ball and running our offense,” Melton said.
The Pioneers responded with a drive by Martin into the hoop. Later the ball got turned over and the Pioneers had possession again. Polk went in with a lay in and made it and was also fouled, giving him a plus one.
“We always go into a game focusing on the next eight minutes because if you can win all four quarters then you’re going to win the game,” Spicer said.
The Gophers came out and started with many passes around the three point line, waiting for an opportunity. Hoffman finally passed to Hamilton for a jumper and he missed.
Polk for the Pioneers went up with a short two and brought them only behind by four points with 7:22 left in the quarter.
Hamilton for the Gophers missed a two and so did Martin for the Pioneers. Estibar made a layup and was fouled in the process. He made one of two of his free throws and brought the score to 27-22 with 6:26 left in the quarter.
Estibar fought for the ball with Pioneer Polk on the floor. Polk won the ball and passed to Hole who made a layup and was fouled. Hole made one of one of the free throws.
Hoffman made a steal and ran down the court and put the ball up and under for a layup. The Gopher crowd got crazy with that shot.
“Defensively we work hard on communication and trying to keep the ball to one side of the court, and if we do that, we can make steals. We did a reasonable job of that against Oregon City,” Melton said.
Hoffman was with the ball again for the Gophers and missed his shot, but Hamilton was there to rebound and put it up and in.
With 2:23 left in the third and the Gophers up 35-27, the Pioneers went on a shooting streak.
Hole came out with a three-pointer, and Polk made yet another layup. There were 20.9 seconds left in the quarter and the score sat at 36-34 with the Gophers still ahead.
Polk passed to Hole who made another two. The quarter ended tied up at 36.
Fourth quarter started with the Pioneers hitting a three pointer by Polk. Later, Polk also went for a layup but missed. He then rebounded it and put it in.
There was 4:48 left in the fourth quarter, and Gophers were up by three, 46-43.
Hoffman charged and worked for a layup. Then later, Estibar shot a two. With 2:03 left in the fourth quarter, the game was tied at 51.
The Pioneers played deep backcourt defense, and Polk stole the ball from Hoffman. Polk was fouled and missed two of two of his free throws.
Estibar went hard at the hoop and made a layup. The Pioneers took a timeout, and there was 1:03 left in the fourth with the Gophers up by one, 54-53.
McCoy was double teamed and fouled by the Pioneers. He made both of his free throws.
There were 54 seconds left and the Gophers were up 56-53. Hole tried to pull up a three but missed. The Gophers were fouled and another free throw was made.
Pioneers went down the court and freshman guard, Trevon Bradford made a layup.
With 15.8 seconds left in the fourth, the score was at 57-55, with the Gophers up.
Senior wing Dominik Mackinnon stole the ball and passed to Polk who made a two-pointer off the backboard. This is the shot that took the game into overtime.
“The first thing I told the team when we went to overtime was that it is about the next four minutes, win the next four minutes,” Melton said.
Overtime started with the Gopher crowd getting on their feet.
Bradford for the Pioneers made a two-pointer and was fouled but missed both free throws. Pioneers were up with a two point lead.
“Prior to it going into overtime, I thought we had the game won. I knew we could pull this game out because we wanted it so much and worked so hard,” Walker said.
With 1:04 left in overtime, the Pioneers were up 59-57. Hole went up for a three but missed. There were 40 seconds left, and it was tied at 59.
Hoffman went in hard at the paint and made a layup, so with only 13 seconds left the Gophers were up.
Knighton went up to try to make a three-pointer but missed. Spicer was fouled and made one of two free throws.
To end the over time and collect the win, Estibar stole the ball and ran back for a quick, easy layup to call the game at the buzzer.