Tigard defeats Canby in neck-and-neck season finisher

Sophomore Douglas Bailey, junior Karson Boschma and sophomore Buddy Brands celebrate the seniors in the Tigers’ senior night. (Henry Kaus/Tigard Life)

One final season game to go in a basketball season unlike any other.

Coming back to the Tigard High School main gym for the first and final time of the season, the boys’ varsity team faced off against the Canby Cougars. Previously, Tigard had been occupying the new auxiliary gym that opened for its first use this year. Now, the team took back the renovated “old” court still in a familiar space.

Nonetheless, the Tigers held a host of disadvantages prior to the match. On their June 2 game at Canby, they took a 57-49 loss. They also had five players absent from play including three starters and three seniors, but this may have played to their advantage.

“We were just running short on guys and we don’t have a lot of rotations,” senior Brett Moss told Tigard Life. “I feel like everybody just staying in the game, keeping our flow together helped a lot.”

Further, as is tradition with a final home game, it was Tigard’s senior night, celebrating the five seniors who happened to graduate the weekend prior. Among these were Spencer Kuffel and Moss to make the most out of this final game at home.

“I just wanted to go out there and give it my all this game,” Moss said.

And, with the start of the first quarter, senior Edward Beglaryan intentionally fouled. Beglaryan and seniors Brandon Kohlman and Jake Wihtol were then ceremoniously switched out to the applause of those attending because they were unable to play due to various injuries.

Through the first quarter, the Tigers maintained a healthy 17-9 lead despite racking up eight fouls. But the Cougars shrunk that margin by halftime to just 27-24.

With a three-pointer from Canby 15 seconds into the second half and a tied game, Canby took a shot at the lead. Finding an opening, Canby rebounded, ran the distance and soared to a dunk, only to find Kuffel right there beside them stopping what could’ve been a game-defining moment.

The Tigers took this chance to steal the lead back with a 10-2 run. But they found this wouldn’t be enough with the game at a 41-41 tie by the end of the third quarter – the fun just beginning.

Senior Spencer Kuffel (#2) lays up a shot against Canby in their final regular season game on June 18. Kuffel scored 18 points through the night. (Henry Kaus/Tigard Life)

“Everybody got up and into game,” Moss said. “We had a good bench presence and that kept us in there.”

Maybe a title or trophy wasn’t on the line, but in the heated rematch, that didn’t matter.

Canby took a steal but resulted in only a missed attempt. Junior Cade Smith put one up from behind the arc and nothing again. But with Canby on the rebound, they tried a three of their own to switch the lead – 44-41 with 6:34 to go.

Smith on the run back, found Moss on the inside. He faked out two defenders with a brief pause and tenderly popped the ball in, leaving Tigard down by only one.

By the 2:57 mark, the Tigers trailed by three. Time was plentiful for this deficit and the student section was on the edge of their seats.

Moss ruled over this endgame momentum. He brought another successful attempt up from the paint and was fouled. He knocked down the free throw for a tied 50-50 game. But with two minutes remaining, Canby took their chances from the arc, bringing the score in their favor for the sixth time of the night.

Under the pressure, Junior Karson Boschma attempted a layup, and as the ball nearly fell to the floor losing what could have been a chance to stay in the game, Moss reached high to tip the ball in and the game back to a one-point difference, 1:20 remaining.

On Canby’s next possession, the matchup reached its climax and truly defined the victor. Canby had a loose grip, and Moss took the opportunity, ripped the ball from the clutches of Canby and hit the floor. Kuffel, as open as ever, received from Moss with the clock ticking down.

But in an almost game-losing error, he passed to a Canby defender. Fortunately, on Canby’s immediate pass back, Kuffel stole the steal, laid it up and was fouled. He took the free shot to lead 55-53.

From here, the Tigers finished out the remaining 55 seconds to win the rematch 59-53, pushing them to 3-4 on the league (3-6 overall).

In the last quarter alone, Moss picked up eight crucial points totaling 14 for the game.

“I picked up four fouls just playing hard and it was tough, but I went out there,” Moss said.

Kuffel led in scoring taking 18 points while the team as a whole went 10-for-16 at the line, 24-for-53 from the field and got a single three-pointer from sophomore Sawyer Wolf in the first quarter.