Boys basketball: Battle Ground hustles its way past Evergreen

Tigers aggressive on rebounding, hand Plainsmen first league loss

By Paul Valencia, Columbian high school sports reporter

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BATTLE GROUND -- Taylor Smith was the only Battle Ground player near the ball, surrounded by Evergreen Plainsmen.

Taylor Smith also was the only one who went to the floor to go get the ball.

Diving for a loose ball in a four-point game in the fourth quarter, Smith got possession, then passed to a teammate. Seconds later, Jamie Ford buried a 3-pointer, giving Battle Ground a seven-point lead.

Smith did not score a point Friday night, but he scored big-time "hustle points" for the Tigers. And it was that hustle, from all the Tigers, that earned them a 64-50 victory in a key Class 4A Greater St. Helens League boys basketball game.

Jamie Ford scored 25 points, Josh Lemar added 14 off the bench, and Damien Ford scored 11 for the Tigers (10-3, 3-1), who handed Evergreen (10-4, 3-1) its first league loss of the season.

The most telling statistic: Rebounding. Battle Ground had 17 offensive rebounds, while Evergreen managed three. The Tigers, in fact, had as many offensive boards as Evergreen had defensively off the glass.

"Every loose ball, every 50-50 ball, we wanted it to be ours," said Lemar.

The Battle Ground defense also recorded 15 steals.

"My coach had a whole bunch of good things to say about our hustle," Smith said.

Battle Ground coach West Armstrong described the contest as the most complete game his Tigers had played all season.

Jamie Ford was 7 of 13 from the floor and made three 3-pointers. He also was 8 for 8 from the line and had six of his team's steals.

The Battle Ground defense also contained Evergreen's Robert Franks for most of the contest. The 6-foot-7 junior did not get an official shot attempt in the first half, getting to the free-throw line four times for four points. He finished the game with 11 points but never could find a rhythm on offense.

"We just really worked on not letting him have clean looks," Armstrong said. "Communication, talking with one another, making sure he was accounted for at all times."

Smith was instrumental in that assignment, too. His game showed one does not have to score to have an impact.

"I'm just trying to do anything to help our team win," Smith said. "I know I'm not a scorer. I just hustle and play defense."

Lemar and Nate Moring combined for 22 points off the bench for Battle Ground.

"I know (Josh) would rather start, but I have him coming off the bench for the exact reason he played tonight," Armstrong said.

Lemar was 7 of 15 from the floor and had three offensive rebounds.

"I go out, starting or not, with the same intensity," Lemar said. "I haven't been playing good recently so I wanted to step it up."

Moring, a 5-8 guard, had eight points, four steals, three assists, and three offensive rebounds.

"I come in and bring energy and do what I'm supposed to do," Moring said.

Up eight midway through the fourth quarter, Moring got the first of three offensive boards on the same Battle Ground possession, which led to two free throws from Jamie Ford.

It was yet another hustle play that went Battle Ground's way.

Jordan Henderson scored the first eight points of the game for Evergreen, helping the Plainsmen take an 8-2 lead. Battle Ground responded, setting the tone with nine offensive rebounds in that first period, and took a three-point lead into the second quarter.

While it was close until the fourth quarter, Battle Ground never trailed in the final three periods. Jamie Ford nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to end the third quarter, extending a one-point lead to seven.

The loss sent Evergreen into a tie for second place in the 4A GSHL with Battle Ground. The Plainsmen take on first-place Union on Tuesday.

BATTLE GROUND 64, EVERGREEN 50

EVERGREEN -- David Martin 10, Connor Finnegan 2, Jalen Ballard 2, Kobey Eaton 0, Greg Washington 6, Jahmil Johnson 6, Christian Chamberlain 2, Robert Franks 11, Jordan Henderson 11. Totals 15-38 (5-21) 15-19 50.

BATTLE GROUND -- Jamie Ford 25, Nate Moring 8, Damien Ford 11, Jeff Moran 0, Devin Johnson 4, Josh Lemar 14, Colby Cahoon 2, Taylor Smith 0. Totals 23-51 (4-11) 14-21 64.

Evergreen 13 15 10 12--50

B. Ground 16 17 12 19--64