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ADRIAN – In a crowded Gene Mills Gym in Adrian, almost split with fans after the Cove Leopards entered town with a busload of parents and supporters, the Adrian boys’ basketball team moved forward in the 1A state playoffs after a 57-53 hard fought victory over the Leopards.
The game was much like a driveway game of big brother versus little brother. As the Leopards were introduced, the starters consisted of three junior and two sophomores, backed up with a bench of freshman. Adrian started the game with three seniors, two juniors and a bench of additional seniors and juniors.
Little brother Cove started the game quickly with junior Patrick Frisch putting the first points of the game on the board. Adrian senior Gavin Bayes found the initial points for the Lopes and after a three-pointer from senior Conley Martin, Adrian took an early 5-2 lead. Cove found their own perimeter shooting and after a three by junior Terrell Davis with the clock ticking down, the Leopards led 17-16 with one quarter down. Frisch was a terror in the paint, scoring 12 of Cove’s 17 points versus the Adrian defense.
Big brother Adrian was able to reclaim the lead by halftime, but only by a single point as the Lopes led 29-28 as the two teams went into the locker room.
Both teams struggled in the third quarter to score before the final eight minutes decided the game. In the final six minutes of the contest, Adrian and Cove exchanged the lead on five occasions and looked at identical score totals twice.
At the 3 minute, 6 second mark in the game, Adrian junior Robert Garza pushed Adrian to a 49-43 lead with a steal and easy basket. Cove cut the margin to three points off a long three-pointer by Davis at the 2:47 mark, but the Antelopes answered with their own three by junior Jesse Walker just 20 seconds later.
The Leopards grabbed an additional basket and Cove fans were on their feet at the 22 second mark when freshman Nathaniel O’Reilly pulled the team within a single point with a long range three-point basket, 54-53, Adrian’s advantage.
The maturity of big brother Adrian showed in the final seconds of the game as the Lopes sank two free throws and with four seconds left in the game, stole the Cove inbound pass and with just over one second left, Adrian’s Garza secured the victory from the foul line for the Lopes.
Cove’s Frisch led all scorers in the game with 26 points.
“He has started for us since he was a freshman and we expect him to have a huge year next season,” said Cove head coach Doug Wiggins. “Teams scouting us always talk about a way to stop Patrick.”
The victorious Adrian scoring was more balanced, led by Conley Martin’s 22 points followed by Bayes and his 18 points. Seven Antelope players had points in the win.
Photo Gallery Adrian v Cove – Boys Basketball – John Braese
Cove ends the season with a 12-11 record, but more importantly, a full roster returning next season after no losses to graduation. The Leopards will need to contend with an Old Oregon League including Powder Valley and Nixyaawii and the addition of Pilot Rock and Union.
The Adrian win propels the Antelopes into round 2 and a trip to meet Rogue Valley Adventist Academy on Friday, Feb. 25. Rogue Valley had a bye in round one after winning the Mountain Valley League title, posting a 22-2 record. The last loss for the Hawks was way back on Dec. 16.
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