Early eruption leads to victory

Volcanoes almost blow big first-half lead in IBL playoffs

By Matt Calkins, Columbian Sports Reporter

Published:

 

A broken shot clock had the P.A. announcer counting down the final seconds of each possession Friday. The Vancouver Volcanoes have their own count going on: 3-2-1.

The team came into the International Basketball League playoffs needing to win three games over the weekend to secure the championship. And after beating the Portland Chinooks, 105-98, it is now one third of the way there.

The victory was typical in multiple ways.

For one, the Volcanoes have now won all 11 of the games they’ve played at the O’Connell Sports Center, their home floor and host site for the tournament. But Friday’s game flow also was reflective of Vancouver’s recent efforts, in which a massive first-quarter lead slowly dwindles away.

The fourth-seeded Volcanoes (13-6) pounced on Portland in the early going, taking a 19-6 lead within the first eight minutes and going up 42-24 midway through the second period.

Andre Murray, who led Vancouver with 25 points, hit a flurry of 3-pointers early to help pad his team’s early advantage. But as has been the case recently, that lead was chipped away at.

“We try to keep it exciting for everyone,” Vancouver forward Jake Carlisle said.

They did. Despite trailing by as many as 22 points in the third quarter, the Chinooks (12-12) climbed to within six with more than two minutes remaining in the game.

They could have cut it to four had they converted one of three wide-open layups on their next possession. But they didn’t, and later drew a technical foul that seemed fueled by frustration.

Lawrence Blackledge had 20 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds for the Volcanoes, who will meet the top-seeded Bellingham Slam at 8 tonight. Devin Uskoski added 18 points and 16 rebounds for Vancouver, while Josh Tarver contributed 20 points.

Mac Hopson and Kevin Ford each had 31 points for Portland, which took 18 more shots than Vancouver.

Of course, it didn’t help that former Oregon State forward David Lucas — son of former Blazers forward Maurice Lucas — was out of the lineup for the Chinooks.

The IBL’s leading second-leading scorer was in Los Angeles for an AAU basketball function, Portland coach Terrance Dickens said.

Regardless of the opponent’s absent personnel, Volcanoes coach Bryan Hunter was pleased with his team’s play.

“A lot of people said this was the one team we had to get past,” Hunter said. “We executed the way we wanted to.”

In the second game Friday, the Albany Legends defeated the Olympia Reign 111-107. Albany will play Edmonton at 6 p.m. today in the other semifinal.

VANCOUVER VOLCANOES 105, PORTLAND CHINOOKS 98

PORTLAND — Hopson 10-26 6-11 31, Ferguson 0-2 2-2 2, Morris 5-15 0-1 11, Arigbon 4-8 0-0 8, J.Jackson 0-2 0-0 0, D.Jackson 1-2 0-0 2, Ford 13-19 5-7 31, Hall 4-17 4-4 13, Dominguez 0-6 0-2 0. Totals 37-97 17-27 98.

VANCOUVER — Lechtenberg 0-1 0-0 0, Bloodsaw 0-1 2-2 2, Williams 0-1 0-0 0, Tarver 7-17 4-5 20, Hartman 1-4 2-2 4, Blackledge 8-17 3-3 20, Murray 8-14 5-8 25, Uskoski 6-13 6-7 18, Carlisle 5-8 0-0 10, Nevels 3-3 0-3 6. Totals 38-79 22-30 105.

Portland 16 27 27 28—98

Vancouver 30 24 28 23—105