When the teams are this familiar a little adjustment can make a big difference.
Playing for the second time in seven days Thursday evening, Sprague High School’s boys basketball team used its 2-3 zone defense to take a 24-22 halftime lead against McKay in the second round of the Central Valley Conference tournament.
But to start the second half the Olympians went to a half-court trap and it worked to perfection as Sprague outscored the Royal Scots 20-5 in the third quarter and came away with a 59-38 win.
“I think it was a little bit of an adjustment, a wrinkle they weren’t ready for,” Sprague coach B.J. Dobrkovsky said. “I think our kids did a good job executing and doing what we wanted to do.
“They were having fun together and playing together. That’s a lot of what it is the chemistry and the continuity that we have playing with each other right now.”
Sprague (13-11 overall) advances to the championship game of the CVC tournament for the third year in a row, which is scheduled for 8 p.m. Tuesday at West Salem, and will play West Salem in the title game.
The Olympians are in the CVC championship game for the third year in a row.
Sprague has its lineup at full strength for the first time this season and is playing its best basketball of the season after its fourth-straight win.
“We got some good chemistry on the team right now,” said Sprague senior point guard A.J. Lapray, who had six assists. “We got some all-around scoring. Stephen Kim picked up 12 points tonight. I think we’re ready to roll.”
McKay (13-11) plays North Salem in the third place game of the CVC tournament at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, also at West Salem.
A win in that game puts the Royal Scots in the Class 6A state playoffs and a loss sends them to the play-in round.
“I feel confident,” said McKay junior Dillon James, who scored 20 points. “We just got to win.”
Sprague post Tanner Morgan scored 18 points for Sprague and post Devvon Gage scored 10 points and had nine rebounds and the Olympians outrebounded McKay 28-23.
The lead was traded five times in the first half, but Sprague went on a late 8-0 run to take the lead for good. James hit a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer to cut the Olympians’ advantage to 24-22.
But Sprague put more pressure on McKay’s perimeter players and started the second half on a 6-0 run.
The Royal Scots went 1 for 6 from the field in the third while Sprague was 9 of 16.
“They made adjustments,” James said. “That’s when we started getting the turnovers, which kind of killed us. We started rushing out shots, got bad looks.”
Sprague is 0-2 against West Salem this season and now plays the CVC regular season champion Titans on their home floor.
But in the prior two games the Olympians were ailing and the team is just starting to reach its potential.
“I just like where we’re at right now,” Dobrkovsky said. “Our continuity, our chemistry, and the kids are just doing a great job playing together and encouraging one another and getting after it, pushing one another in practice.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or follow at twitter.com/bpoehler