BEAVERTON – Saturday night was special in Beaverton. The Beavers added a District Championship to their list of 2021 accomplishments and Coach Roy Johnston got his 800th win.
Pinconning provided the opposition Saturday night and they hung with the Beavers in the first half. With two of the better players in the league, Zachary Johnson and Thomas Yanoski, the Spartans were certainly capable of pulling off an upset and actually led 14-13 after one. Beaverton outscored Pinconning in the second quarter 17-13 to take a 30-27 lead into the halftime break.
The Beavers looked like a different team in the second half. The coaching staff focused on taking care of the ball at halftime and it worked. “We made better passes and moved (tempo) it up a bit,” said Johnston. “We were trying to throw fancy passes and they were picking them off, fancy and lazy passes.”
“We don’t always start out like we should. Then the other team gets our attention and we play better,” added Johnston. Pinconning had their attention and Beaverton sure played better coming out of the locker room. They outscored Pinconning 22-9 in the third quarter on their way to a 74-52 victory.
The Beavers had four players in double figures for the night. Cam Mishler had 19 points to lead Beaverton. Trent Reed and Brayde Keeley each and 17 and Carson Oldani added 16.
Meridian had Beaverton’s attention on Thursday night when they almost pulled off a huge upset. The Mustangs came to play add jumped all over the Beavers from the start. After leading 2-0 Beaverton fell behind by as much as 11 points in the first half. Meridian went into the locker room leading 25-15 at halftime.
Beaverton began to claw back into the game in the third quarter. They were trailing by eight midway through the third when Mishler led a fast break finding Oldani for a layup attempt. When the ball rolled off the rim Keeley grabbed it for a big dunk that brought the house down. Almost immediately afterwards Oldani got out on another fast break only to be fouled. His two free throws cut the deficit to four points and the Beavers were back in the game.
The Beavers continued to chip away at the Meridian lead, but after an Oldani free throw still trailed by three with 8.9 seconds left. After getting the ball back Beaverton took a timeout with 5.6 seconds on the clock. Coming out of the timeout Mishler found himself tightly guarded with no passing options available so he did what shooters do. He let it fly from beyond the three-point line. The ball came up short, but he was fouled on the shot.
With 1.6 seconds left and trailing by three he stepped to the line and calmly hit all three free throws sending the game into overtime. When Mishler scored on a fast break in overtime the Beavers had their first lead since early in the first quarter when they were up 2-0. Meridian kept it close in the overtime, but Beaverton prevailed 53-50 to move on to the District Finals.
The “Big Four Seniors” were once again in double figures for the Beavers. This time Keeley led the way with 18 points. Mishler and Oldani had 12 points each while Reed had 10.
The Beavers were in Houghton Lake last night to face Mason County Central in the Regional semi-final. The Spartans were 3-12 heading into the game with two of those wins coming during their District run last week. “We don’t know much about Mason County Central. I have been watching some video and it looks like they want to get up and down the court,” said Johnston. “My feeling is that if we go out and play ball we will be fine.”