On Thursday, Dec. 3, the 51-foot glowing cross of New Hope Christian College beckoned basketball fans from every part of the community to their hillside campus, where the New Hope Deacons hosted the Lane Titans in a non-conference basketball match at Rexius Gym.
“We’re still taking baby steps [and] growing as a unit,” Titan’s head coach Bruce Chavka said in the final moments leading up to the game. “This is our third game of the year and they [Deacons] have had quite a few more games than us. It should be an up and down kind of game.”
Chavka’s prediction came to fruition. The Titans’ game plan was met by the Deacons’ ability to move the ball and effectively shoot the trey. It was a uniquely matched competition that brought spectators to their feet.
The Titans wasted no time initiating effective half court pressure that forced turnovers and rushed shots, and their field-goal efficiency kept them nearly neck and neck with the Deacons.
There was a burst of Titan energy after sophomore power forward Usama Zaid intercepted a pass at halfcourt and stuffed it through the basket with a breakaway slam dunk. Lane rode this energy wave to a seven point lead that the Deacons steadily chipped away at and both teams found themselves all tied up at 33 points going into the second half.”We got down but came back. We didn’t hang our heads,” New Hope Deacons’ head coach Terry Crabb said of his team’s first half efforts. “We got in a little bit of a hurry with our offense so if we can slow that down and recognize what we have, I think we’ll be okay.”
On the other side of the floor, Chavka stressed the importance of sustaining energy and called for his team to tighten up their defense going into the second half. The Titans heeded the call and were rewarded with points from second opportunities and turnovers. But quick ball movement and a relentless barrage of three point shots tipped the scales in favor of the Deacons by seven points.
The turnaround play came from an aggressive move to the basket by Zaid that put him at the free-throw line with the Titans down by two. Zaid knocked down both of the one point penalty shots to tie it back up. The Titans capitalized off of a fast break that led to a lay up from the hands of freshman point guard Raekwon Mingledoff, recapturing the lead for the Titans.
Throughout the game, the Deacons struggled to get the ball to the rim in the allotted 30 seconds, but Titans’ defense morphed into a force to be reckoned with in the second half, extending their lead. This was the late energy the Titans had been planning on.
The Deacons kept their nose to the grindstone the entire game, and never fell out of contention. Their hard work paved the way for opportunity — a Titan foul beyond the three point line resulted in a four point play for the Deacons, bringing them within two points of the lead with less than three minutes left in regulation.The clamor of fans bolstering their respective teams erupted into an ocean of encouragement as the Titans passed the ball around, winding down the clock and patiently waiting for a clear shot. The ball made its way into the hands of sophomore guard Duce Namazi who, as the shot clock counted down the final seconds, flushed an outside jumper; changing the ocean of encouragement to a trickle of disappointment and confusion.
With no remaining time outs, the Deacons had to foul to keep as many seconds on the clock as possible. The Titans effectively killed the clock and capitalized on the Deacons’ foul trouble to extend the lead. The Deacons backed off and Titans moved the ball past half court without opposition. Both teams began exchanging gestures of sportsmanship as time expired and the final buzzer rang. The Titans returned from the hill as victors.
“I think we played real good. We got a good team, a good coach and we always play intense and play together,” Zaid said finishing the night with 21 points, nine rebounds and three assists. “The second half we picked it up, played good defense and rode it on home … we’re trying to win a championship. That’s all we’re thinking about right now. Keep moving forward game by game and try to get that banner at the end of the year.”
Lane will be the scene of two men’s basketball tournaments over winter break. So, before you commence binging on Internet videos and sleeping over the break, consider treating yourself to a night out.
On Friday, Dec. 11 to Dec. 13, Lane hosts the Dale Bates Invitational Tournament in honor of legendary men’s basketball coach Dale Bates in Building 5 on the Main Campus. The single-elimination style tournament begins Dec. 11 at 2 p.m. when the Umpqua Riverhawks play the Spokane Sasquatch.
The Titans play the Seattle Mountaineers, an independent faith-based basketball club, at 6 p.m and the first round wraps up with a game featuring the Linn-Benton Roadrunners and the South Puget Clippers beginning at 8 p.m.
The second round of the tournament begins Dec. 12 at 12 p.m. and the second game starts at 2 p.m. Round one’s winning teams will play at 4 p.m. and the final game of the night will tip off at 8 p.m.
The final round of the tournament begins Dec. 13 at 10 a.m. Third place ranking will be determined at 12 p.m. and the championship game takes place at 2 p.m.
Lane hosts eight teams in the NWAC Conference during the 2015 Lane Crossover tournament Dec. 17 to Dec. 19. The tournament is also single-elimination and begins with the Peninsula Pirates playing the Lower Columbia Red Devils at 2 p.m.
The Titans face the Blue Mountain Timberwolves at 6 p.m. The first round wraps up after the Everett Trojans play the Umpqua Riverhawks at 8 p.m.
The second round of the tournament begins Dec. 18 at 12 p.m. Round one’s winning teams will play at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m.
The final round of the tournament begins Dec. 19 at 10 a.m. The game for third place honors will take place at 12 p.m. and the championship game begins at 2 p.m.
Dec. 28 to Dec. 30 the Titans compete at the Siskiyous Classic in Weed, California and play the Clark Penguins Jan. 2, 2016 in Vancouver, Washington.
The women’s basketball team goes on the road for the entire winter break starting with the Pierce Tournament in Lakewood, Washington from Dec. 11 to Dec. 13.
Then, the Titans head to Port Angeles, Washington where they compete in the Peninsula Tournament Dec. 17 to Dec. 19 before making their way to the Chemeketa Tournament in Salem, Oregon, on Dec. 28 to Dec. 30.
The Titans wrap up their winter break in Vancouver, Washington where they face Clark Penguins Jan. 2, 2016.