PORTLAND — During halftime of the opening semifinal game of the International Basketball League playoffs on Thursday afternoon, the Vancouver Volcanoes picked up several awards.
Vancouver produced the Sixth Man, Defensive Player and Most Valuable Player of the year honors. A team so stacked that it had to justify these accolades by getting past the Portland Chinooks — and did so.
Though faced with multiple deficits, Vancouver prevailed for the 117-109 win over Portland. The Volcanoes will face defending champion Bellingham Slam at 7 p.m. Friday for the IBL championship at Eastmoreland Courts.
Bellingham (17-2) defeated Salem 138-103 in the second semifinal on Thursday.
"I told them at the fourth quarter, we came in and almost swept the awards," Vancouver head coach Joe Navarro said. "Don't think that Portland wasn't going to be mad."
Vancouver (16-4) overcame any angry motivation the Chinooks (14-6) might have had by exerting its talent when it mattered.
League MVP Chehales Tapscott led Vancouver with 33 points and 16 rebounds and played a pivotal role during the Volcanoes' initial comeback as the team trailed 41-26 after the first quarter.
"We all know the IBL is a game of runs," Tapscott said. "If you're up 15, you're never safe."
Early in the second quarter, the Vancouver frontcourt of Tapscott and Jake Carlisle shut down the paint for three consecutive stops that led to six points. When guard Andre Murray hit a step-back jump shot at the 5:42 mark, the Volcanoes had finally tied the game at 51-51.
The score remained even at 93-93 as the teams entered the fourth quarter, and after Vancouver missed several 3-point attempts, the Chinooks opened a four-point lead.
However, the Volcanoes needed little time to recover from this deficit and took the 106-104 lead with 3:53 left when point guard Josh Tarver went coast to coast for a layup.
Portland's Jared Cunningham scored a team-high 33 points for the Chinooks. He tied the game with free throws, but on the next offensive possession, Vancouver guard Paul Hafford peeled off a screen and drilled a 3-pointer.
In the final minute, Murray — who won league MVP last season — popped a fadeaway jumper that pulled Vancouver ahead for good. Murray finished with 24 points while Hafford contributed 13.
"We showed our heart, because we never really had a challenge this year with a full roster," Hafford said. "Finally, we got an actual scare … and proved ourselves."
Kevin Bloodsaw was named the IBL Defensive Player of the Year and Mike Ward earned the Sixth Man honor. Also, Tapscott, Murray, Hafford and Tarver were named to the league's All-Star team.
VANCOUVER VOLCANOES 117, PORTLAND CHINOOKS 109
VANCOUVER (16-4) — Tarver 5-11 4-6 15, Tapscott 12-19 9-9 33, Murray 9-17 4-6 24, Hafford 4-14 2-2 13, Carlisle 2-6 0-0 4, Ward 0-2 0-0 0, Bloodsaw 0-0 0-0 0, Sim 6-11 1-2 15, Hartmand 4-7 2-2 13, Moore 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 42-87 22-27 117.
PORTLAND (14-6) — Foster 0-1 0-0 0, Jordan 8-19 2-4 20, Cunningham 10-26 7-10 32, Hart 3-7 1-2 8, Ford 9-18 3-10 21, Steinke 2-4 1-2 7, Bryant 5-10 0-0 11, Lucas 5-10 0-0 10. Totals 42-95 14-28 109.
Vancouver 26 41 26 24—117
Portland 41 22 30 16—109