DIXONVILLE — A pair of freshmen — post Ray Gerrard and point guard Keagan Mast — played like seasoned veterans for the North Douglas Warriors Monday night.
Gerrard scored 11 of his game-high 13 points in the first half and Mast book-ended the game with big buckets as the Warriors outlasted Days Creek in a 39-30 slugfest that determined the top seed in the Skyline League North at Umpqua Valley Christian School.
“That was a chaotic game, to say the least,” North Douglas coach Tyler Vancil said of the donnybrook, which included plenty of combat in the paint and strong defensive guard play on both sides.
“That was pretty intense,” agreed Days Creek coach James Ellis. “Both teams really wanted this one.”
While plenty happened in the middle 46 minutes of the game, Mast essentially started and ended the fight. His 3-pointer 90 seconds into the game gave North Douglas the first lead — one it would not relinquish — and his backcourt steal and layup with less than a minute to play put the victory on ice.
“That’s one of the better games he’s played this year,” Vancil said of Mast, who also had three assists and three steals go with six points. “He took care of the ball very well tonight.”
The Warriors, who led 10-7 after the first quarter, went on a 10-2 run to open the second, powered by Gerrard, who took a full-court pass from Mast for an easy layup then pump-faked Wolves defender Kaeden Stever out of his shoes to make room for a score in the post.
Another inside bucket for Gerrard, followed by him hitting one of two free throws, pushed the Warriors to a 23-13 lead at halftime.
But, just as their race for the division title, this fight was far from over.
Days Creek scored the first six points of the third quarter to get within 23-19 as Zane DeGroot scored in the lane and Cauy Jackson nailed a 3-pointer. However, a scoring drought that lasted the next four minutes killed the Wolves’ momentum and had them facing a 28-20 hole entering the final eight minutes.
Cody Black and Gerrard scored on consecutive offensive rebounds to give N.D. a 32-20 lead. The Wolves went on another run, scoring the next seven points behind a three-point play from Keith Gaskell, a pair of free throws by Macs Whetzel and a corner jumper from DeGroot to get back within 32-27 with 3:45 to play.
Those were the Wolves’ final points until Neston Berlingeri’s 3-pointer with 12.4 seconds left and the game already decided.
Black scored in the lane and hit a pair of free throws down the stretch before Mast stole a ball near the Wolves’ 3-point line and went coast-to-coast for the game-sealing layup.
“We just couldn’t put the ball in the hole,” Ellis said. “We played good defense and gave them plenty of problems, but when you get in a hole in the first half and can’t hit a bucket in the second, you’re in trouble.
“We got good looks, 10- and 15-foot jumpers, and we just missed them. We never felt like we were out of the game. We were inches away a few times from making something happen.”
Whetzel had 10 of his team-high 12 points in the first half for Days Creek, while DeGroot finished with six points.
Gerrard had five rebounds in addition to his 13 points for North Douglas, while older brother Jake Gerrard, the team’s leading scorer over the final three weeks of the season, was held to six points and grabbed five rebounds.
With the win, the Warriors (17-8, 11-1 North) automatically advance to the Skyline Tournament, where they will face either Umpqua Valley Christian or Camas Valley on Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Sutherlin High School.
Days Creek (15-10, 11-1) falls into the “play-in” round and will host Glendale at 7 p.m. Wednesday. The winner of that game will play South Division champion Riddle on Friday at 3:30 p.m. at Sutherlin.
NORTH DOUGLAS (39) — Ray Gerrard 13, Mast 6, J. Gerrard 6, Black 6, Parks 4, Frieze 4, Gant. Totals 15 7-10 39.
DAYS CREEK (30) — Macs Whetzel 12, DeGroot 6, K. Gaskell 4, Berlingeri 4, Jackson 3, Martin 1, Stever, E. Gaskell. Totals 10 6-12 30.
N. Douglas 10 13 5 11 — 39
Days Creek 7 6 7 10 — 30
3-Point Goals — N.D. 2 (J. Gerrard, Mast), D.C. 4 (Whetzel 2, Jackson 1, Berlingeri 1). Total Fouls — N.D. 14, D.C. 13. Fouled Out — Parks.