The Azalea Middle School Bruins seventh and eighth grade boys basketball teams traveled to Gold Beach Thursday and came away with “double gold” – wins by both teams.
“Our defense won the game for us,” Azalea seventh grade Head Coach Jason Fulton said following the Bruins’ 43-38 win. “I am so proud of the way the kids are playing now as a team.”
This was a very good win for the Bruins, coming on the heels of a hard fought third place finish in the McKinleyville Tournament six days earlier.
Center David Freeman paced Azalea with 13 points while Dillion Serna added 9.
Seven of the players got into the scoring column as the Bruins continued to show good team balance.
Jumping out to leads of 19-2, and 35-8 allowed Azalea to focus on new half court plays and try new plays drawn up during the game.
“This game we controlled throughout,” eighth grade Head Coach Keith Wallin said. “Our full court pressure and half court defense, which led to many fast break buckets, was the difference.”
Every player on the roster managed to score at least one field goal led by Riley Frazier’s 10 points, including a perfect four of four from the free throw line.
Guard Ethan Jones added 8 points, while Juan Cortez and Shaan Amin put in 6 each.
McKinleyville tourney Seventh grade
It was all Azalea as they “ran them off the floor,” according to Fulton.
Winning 47-21, while outscoring the hosts every quarter, and having Steve Kleespies control the boards, led the Bruins to the convincing win.
“We really played great defense,” Fulton said.
Noah James had an outstanding night scoring 16 while Kleespies added 8.
The Bruins weren’t able to keep the win streak going through the semifinals though as they lost to Zane, 33-40.
“Missed free throws cost us the chance to win this one,” Fulton said. Zane was “one of the best teams we have seen this season.”
Azalea made some runs to get to within four or five points but just ran out of time in the end.
The Bruins were led by Noah James’ 10 points and Serna’s seven.
In the consolation finals the Bruins brought home a 32-31 victory as Sean Colbert made a free throw with five seconds left to make the one point difference.
“On the floor were two tired teams,” Fulton said. “This time our free throws gave us a hard-fought win over a good team.”
“This was a very good defensive effort,” Fulton added. “Our offense continues to improve which is something that needs to happen.”
David Freeman led the balanced Bruin attack with 8, while Dillion Serna and Dustin Lea scored 6 points each.
Azalea boys win three of four in hometown tourney
On a day in which it seemed like basketball was being played all over town, the Azalea Bruin boys seventh and eighth grade basketball teams captured three of four games.
Using well balanced scoring – 10 players scoring – and superior guard play, Azalea won its opener 57-35 over Bandon.
“Everyone gave a good effort,” Fulton said. “We worked hard in practice and we are learning some new things that we got to try today.”
Azalea used a 16-5 opening quarter surge on its way to a 27-15 halftime lead.
Serna, along with forward Colbert, paced the Bruins in the opening half with 7 and 9 points respectively.
Bandon was able to stay within shouting distance after being sent to the free throw line seven times during the first 16 minutes of play.
It took Azalea three minutes to score in the opening of the second quarter as Bandon crept within six.
But that was as close as the Tigers would get as the Bruins came roaring out of halftime to shoot 37 percent from the field and 50 percent from the free-throw line to lead 42-23 going into the final quarter.
Serna led Azalea’s scoring with 12 points, matching his jersey number. Colbert added 11, and Noah James got eight – seven of those coming in the second half.
As a team the Bruins shot 25-of-74 (33 percent) from the field and six-of-16 from the free throw line.
In the nightcap, Azalea ran into a tall and well balanced North Bend team and came out on the losing end of a 43-60 final.
“It was a challenge for us right from the start,” Fulton said. “We gave 100 percent and played very hard, but we lost to a team that can be beat.”
They will get that chance when they travel to take on the Bulldogs on Feb. 15.
Joseph Johnson led Azalea with 12 points while Serna chipped in 7, and Colbert and Dustin Lea added 6 each.
After a lackadaisical first quarter, 13-10, Azalea’s offense rolled to a convincing 42-24 win over Bandon.
Outscoring the Tigers 24-8 in the second and third quarters, the Bruins left no doubt as to the outcome.
“We did a lot of good things,” Wallin said.
Ten players scored in the balanced attack.
Jordan King and Russell Nickels led Azalea with 6 points each.
In the nightcap, Azalea was pitted against North Bend, a team they had defeated by just three points earlier in the season.
This time the Bruins used a very deliberate attack to stun the visitors, 46-33, in a game that was closer than the final score indicated.
Both teams started off slowly, as a total of only 12 points were scored.
“We showed good patience,” Wallin noted.
Turnovers were numerous early on and Azalea’s zone defense seemed to confuse North Bend throughout the game.
Leading 8-4 going into the second quarter, the Bruins managed only two Brandon-Curtis field goals in eight minutes of play.
But the Bruins made 6-of-10 from the free throw line to post a 18-9 lead at the half.
After going almost three minutes without scoring to start the second half, the Bruins saw the Bulldogs claw to within 6.
But field goals by Jones, Nickels and Amin pushed the Bruins’ lead to 11 going into the final quarter.
The fourth quarter was all Azalea, as the Bruins hit their first seven shots of the quarter to go up by 21 with two minutes left in the game.
Eight players scored led by Curtis’ 12 and 9 each from Amin (all in the second half) and Nickels.
Azalea shot 18-of-35 (51 percent) from the field to compliment its 52 percent (9-of-17) shooting from the free-throw line.
Azalea will host Myrtle Point at 4 p.m., today (Feb. 8) at the middle school.