6A BOYS BASKETBALL
It was as if Gresham junior Sam Igbonagwam was wearing a cloak of invisibility, as he slipped past Lincoln's back line unnoticed time and again to spark the Gophers to a 70-60 comeback win Tuesday night.
"That was a signature win for us to knock off a program that is at the top of the PIL — it's one of the biggest wins we've had in my three years here," Gophers' coach Erik Lyslo said.
The Cardinals, last year's third-place team at state, had just hit a layup to go up nine points with only a matter of seconds remaining in the third quarter. Igbonagwan was alone on the far side of the half-court line, raising his hand up high to get his teammates' attention. The ball came flying through the air, and he took two dribbles before releasing the ball at the front of the rim. It dropped through the net as the horn sounded.
"The crowd was hyping me up, and I was able to get down the floor and yell for the ball," Igbonagwan said. "We needed those points to get the comeback started."
Sure enough, the momentum carried into the fourth quarter. Ethan Abrahamson knocked down a 3-pointer and a pair of free throws, while Lucas Lively finished a fast break. In less than two minutes, Lincoln's nine-point gap was gone.
"I thought we wore them down in that fourth quarter — their guys looked tired and our guys are in really good shape," Lyslo said.
The Gophers moved into the lead 53-51 when Daello Portin-Chapman came around a Lively screen at the top of the arc and swished an 18-footer. Lively scooped up a loose ball at the other end and fired another deep ball to Igbonagwam, who was sent to the free-throw line where he made both attempts. Portin-Chapman drove to his left and pulled up for a 10-footer from the baseline to add two more points for the Gophers.
"We made some adjustments and were able to come off screens and drive and kick to get some open looks," Portin-Chapman said. "I was able to get to spots where I practice from a lot."
The Gophers put a stranglehold on the game when Igbonagwan got behind the defense one final time, charging to the rim to convert a contested layup for a 59-53 lead with 3:08 to play.
Down the stretch, the Gophers pounded the boards, doing a masterful job of limiting the Cardinals to one shot per possession.
"We were getting kills on the boards in the first half, so at halftime we talked about boxing out and winning that battle to get back into the game," Abrahamson said.
On the offensive end, Gresham went 11-for-13 (.846) from the free-throw line to expand its margin. Abrahamson made three trips to the line and saw only one shot rattle out.
"Every practice we put up 50 to 100 free throws. We know how important they are coming down the stretch," Abrahamson said.
Gresham (2-0) plays at Mountain View (2-1) at 5 p.m. Saturday.
View photos at …
LINCOLN 21 14 16 9 — 60
GRESHAM 13 13 18 26 — 70
Lincoln (60) — Ben Jeffers 15, Daniel Kovalev 15, Connor Fahey 15, Riley Easton 5, Levi Margolis 4, Mike Fortner 4, Ben Weiss 2, Phillipi,
Gresham (70) — Ethan Abrahamson 24, Daello Portin-Chapman 17, Eric Puclic 13, Sam Igbonagwan 9, Drew Larsen 3, Lucas Lively 2, Isaac Clinton 2, Butler, Herrejon, Henkle.
This story is slated for our Friday, Dec. 7, print edition.