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Fort Holiday Classic: Battle Ground boys finishing 2022 strong, now back at full strength

Tait Spencer scores 37 points to lead Tigers over Liberty of Hillsboro

By , Columbian Assistant Sports Editor
8 Photos
Battle Ground's Tait Spencer shoots the ball over Liberty's Lucas Whitbey (30) during the Tigers' 88-68 win at the Fort Vancouver Holiday Classic on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022.
Battle Ground's Tait Spencer shoots the ball over Liberty's Lucas Whitbey (30) during the Tigers' 88-68 win at the Fort Vancouver Holiday Classic on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022. (Tim Martinez/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

The Battle Ground boys basketball team is whole again.

And that means the Tigers could be a whole lot better than they were before.

Leading scorer Tait Spencer missed a couple of games earlier this month with a sore wrist, but the Tigers still posted wins over W.F. West and Prairie.

In his third game back from that injury, Spencer poured in 37 points as Battle Ground ran away from Liberty of Hillsboro, Ore., 88-68 in the first round of the Fort Vancouver Holiday Classic on Wednesday.

“Obviously Tait is a big scorer for us and he can make those big steals when we need them,” Battle Ground coach Kevin Kalian said. “But when he was out, the other kids said ‘Hey, we love Tait, but we’ve got to learn how to play without him when we don’t have him. And I think they just learned that all five guys out on the court move the ball well during that time.

“And now with Tait back, I think they’re all gelling together, moving the ball, getting to the rim and hitting big shots.”

Spencer got one of those big steals late in the second quarter to help Battle Ground take a 41-36 lead into halftime.

Opening the third quarter, the Tigers got a 3-pointer from Trey Spencer, another from Tait Spencer and a jumper in the lane from Noah Currie.

The next thing the Tigers knew, they had a 56-38 lead.

“After halftime, we just stopped their drives,” Tait Spencer said. “Every time they drove, they got a bucket. We talked about that halftime. We said ‘take away their drive and we push from there.’ And that’s what we did in the third quarter.”

Tait Spencer scored 10 in the third quarter. Trey Spencer added eight and Todd Copper hit a pair of 3-pointer as the Tigers built their lead to 71-45.

Tait Spencer finished with 37 points, and Trey Spencer added 17.

Battle Ground (6-1) has won five in a row and will look to make it six when the Tigers face Weed (Calif.) in the Fort bracket semifinal on Thursday.

“We’ve got a big week coming up next week with Skyview and Camas,” Kalian said. “I’ve been telling them ‘let’s end this week on a good note.’ Let’s not come in here and have a poor game. Let’s play hard, keep the energy up and get ready for next week.’

WEED (Calif.) 66, FORT VANCOUVER 60 — The Trappers played their closest game of the season, but could not rally late against Weed.

Ahron Menendez scored 21 points and Jamo Hicks added 11 for the Trappers, who got the deficit down to a single possession a couple of times in the second half before Weed pulled away late.

Fort will face Liberty in a consolation-round game on Thursday.

R.A. LONG 78, REYNOLDS (Ore.) 30 — Cavin Holden scored 50 points, five points score off the tournament record, as the Lumberjacks rolled to an opening win.

Fort’s Khalil Singleton set the tournament record with 55 points in 2019. Holden had 41 after three quarters Wednesday before the Lumberjacks eased off on the gas.

R.A. Long will face De La Salle North Catholic of Portland in the Trapper bracket semifinal on Thursday.

MOUNTAIN VIEW 52, SHOREWOOD 46 — Jacob Martin scored 17 points to lead the Thunder’s to a first-round win at the Fort Vancouver Holiday Classic.

Isaiah Vargas added 11 points for Mountain View, which outscored Shorewood 16-7 in the seconds quarter to take a 23-16 halftime lead.

The Thunder (6-4) will face Bishop Blanchet or Sunnyside in the Trapper Bracket semifinals on Thursday.