COOS BAY — The growing process for the Southwestern Oregon Community College men’s basketball team took another step on Wednesday.
The No. 5 Lane Titans overcame a five-point halftime deficit to outlast the Lakers 106-100 behind 30 points and 10 rebounds from Tarik Cool and 24 points and 13 rebounds from Cody Mathis. Keenan Reynolds led SWOCC with 23 points and Moses Miller added 22 points with 11 assists and seven rebounds.
“I just thought we matched the type of energy, intensity that’s required in this southern region and it was awesome,” SWOCC coach Trevor Hoppe said. “That’s the way we know we can play. Yeah we came up six points short, but we’re getting better.”
With 206 combined points, 148 combined field goal attempts and nine players in double figures, the game was played at a frenetic pace all night.
Both the Lakers (5-10, 0-3) and Titans (13-2, 2-1) play an exciting, up-tempo style of basketball, lending itself to an exciting night.
The Titans are exceedingly talented and athletic, and SWOCC matched them most of the way. Cool spent a year at Division II Dixie State, helping the Trailblazers to a PacWest title and a No. 2 seed at the D-II tournament before transferring to Lane. Rodney Houshell spent a year at Western Oregon University. Lucas Wilson, an uber-athletic wing, declined a scholarship offer from Hawaii to play wide receiver to play basketball and was far and away the highest-jumping and strongest player on the floor.
Even so, SWOCC hung with the Titans.
Reynolds had the only dunk in the game, a one-hander on a fast break after a Lane turnover, and came close to another not long after.
Lane scored 61 second-half points behind 17 from Cool and 15 from Mathis, a 6-foot-9 center from San Diego. Lane led by as many as 10 late in the second half, but SWOCC cut it to four with a 6-0 run, including a pull-up 3-pointer by Miller, who also was fouled on another 3-point attempt. The sophomore only made two and SWOCC had to foul, all but ending it.
“I think of it as a positive,” Reynolds said. “They’re a solid team. Got a couple solid D-II guys coming down, so we gotta be ready for that next time we play ‘em.”
SWOCC only committed 10 turnovers, a number Hoppe wasn’t displeased with, but those turnovers were costly. Several times SWOCC grabbed a defensive rebound but gave it right back and Lane scored on all those instances, negating a solid defensive possession and handing points to Lane.
SWOCC also shot just 18-for-29 from the free throw line and allowed Lane to shoot 38 free throws, making 24. Lane was in the double bonus for most of the second half, getting two free throws after every SWOCC foul.
It helped tip the balance of the second half away from SWOCC and toward Lane.
“We just gotta come into practice, make sure we hit our free throws, play solid defense (and) we should be a scary team,” Reynolds said.
Largely behind the scoring of Tashon Brown and Lucas Wilson, who had 13 points each, Lane jumped to a 22-13 lead, prompting the Lakers to take a full timeout with 11:51 left in the first half.
SWOCC stayed within striking range from there, taking its first lead at 42-40 with 2:21 on the clock on Aaron Sanchez’s first basket of the night. It was part of a 20-11 run that gave SWOCC its 49-44 lead at the half.
Wilson took over early in the second half, powering through SWOCC fouls or otherwise making acrobatic layups at the rim.
Houshell, who was held scoreless in the first half, started slicing through the Lakers defense and hit a couple threes early in the second half, putting the Lakers back on their heels.
A Lezjon Bonds 3-pointer with 2:14 left gave Lane a 100-90 lead, prompting SWOCC to make its closing run to get close. Though it couldn’t get close enough.
It was another step for a young SWOCC team with a collection of freshmen.
“I just know that we got a lot of young dudes that are just a little bit — we played nice, shot the ball very well — just need to be a better free throw shooting team,” Reynolds said.
SWOCC visits Chemeketa on Saturday with a 4 p.m. tip.