Titans stumble at finish, playoffs hope ended
With the season on the line, the Lane men’s basketball team responded with one of its strongest performances of the season on Feb. 17 versus the Mount Hood Community College Saints.
Unfortunately, the Titans’ effort wasn’t enough, and they suffered a 71-69 defeat.
“It’s a heartbreaker,” Lane head coach Bruce Chavka said “It was great to see our guys battling and playing hard. We just couldn’t play 40 good minutes and that’s been our problem this year.”
The 5-6 Titans entered the game in sixth place in the Northwest Athletic Association of Community College South Region. They needed a win to keep their playoffs hopes alive.
Lane started the game on a red-hot 11-0 run, and were led by sophomore forwards Alex Sattley and Dale Baker. The duo combined to score 20 points in the first half.
Titans sophomore forward Zach Kirschbaum scored only two points in the first half, but made a huge impact on the defensive end. Kirschbaum picked up five rebounds and three blocks in the first five minutes of the game alone.
Kirschbaum also held sophomore center Mac Johnson, the Saints’ leading scorer and rebounder, to just five points on 1-of-6 shooting in the first half.
Lane took a 34-25 lead into halftime, but the Saints responded immediately to start the second half.
Johnson connected on three consecutive baskets coming out of the locker room, and the Saints quickly narrowed the Titans’ lead to just four points.
Unfazed, the Titans extended their lead back out to as much as 15 points midway through
the second half, but the Saints refused to quit.
Mount Hood shot a near-perfect 16-of-17 from the free-throw stripe in the second half to help propel yet another comeback. They chopped the Titans’ lead back to four points with four minutes remaining.
The Titans kept their composure and matched the Saints shot for shot. It appeared they might have finally put the nail in Mount hood’s coffin when freshman guard Willy Malos hit a deep three to put the Titans up
67-62 with two minutes remaining.
However, the Titans committed several critical turnovers down the stretch, and Mount Hood guard Jalen Thomas shot 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the last 90 seconds of the game to put the Saints ahead by two with eight seconds remaining.
Freshman point guard Dyrall Goods dribbled the length of the court and found Kirschbaum wide open on the wing with the clock winding down.
Kirschbaum launched a three that would have won the game as time expired, but it clanked off the side of the rim and fell harmlessly to the floor, leaving the Saints victorious and crushing the Titans’ playoff dreams.
With nothing but pride on the line, the Titans faced off for their final home game versus The Southwestern Oregon Community College Lakers on Feb. 19.
Lane played the Lakers close for the first half and went into halftime a trailing just 42-36. However, they weren’t able to keep up with the Lakers, who blew open the game in the second half on their way to a 93-75 victory.
Lane sophomore Alec Breazeale led the Titans with nine rebounds and eight assists.
“It’s pretty disappointing,” Breazeale said. “We had high expectations of coming out here and getting a win and making the NWAACC tournament, but our season has not gone as planned.”