By Josh Bronson

Pilot staff writer

The Azalea Middle School eighth grade boys' basketball team held on for a 59-54 win over the Sunset Blue Dolphins while the seventh grade team lost 52-33 to the Dolphins.

Seventh-graders fall to Sunset 52-33:

In the opening game of the night, the seventh grade team fell to a very talented Sunset team.

After Cade Freels notched the opening bucket of the game, the Dolphins went on a 13-0 run to take a 13-2 lead.

Andrew Bilyeu halted the run with a layup after Cole Hannan blocked a shot on the defensive end.

The scoring woes continued in the second quarter for the Bruins as they only tallied five points in the quarter - led by a 3-pointer from Zach Konkel - and trailed 28-9 at the half.

Sunset did an excellent job driving to the basket and dishing the ball off to the open man, keeping the Bruin defense off-guard for most of the game.

The Bruins surpassed their first half total with 11 points in the third quarter as Freels got to work inside, putting up six points in the quarter.

In the fourth quarter, the Bruins used pressure defense to produce turnovers which they converted into easy baskets.

But the Bruins could never get a sustained run going and only cut the lead down to 17 points before the Dolphins ended the game with a 19-point victory.

Freels led the Bruins with 15 points on the night - most of them coming off of offensive rebounds and hard work in the paint.

Darrell Hopper chipped in seven points for the Bruins while Bilyeu added five, Konkel had three, Nate Orman had two and Hannan one.

Orman and Freels did an excellent job crashing the boards while Hannan, Sean Graham and Rick Kreger all played solid defense at the guard position.

Eighth-graders battle Sunset for a 59-54 win:

In an extremely close, hard-fought battle, the Bruins never led by more than 10 points, but were able to keep the Dolphins at bay to hold on for the five-point victory.

The Bruins took an early 14-6 lead in the first, fueled by a pair of 3-pointers from Tim Drafahl and Tyler Wood.

But the Dolphins dropped eight unanswered points of their own to knot the game at 14 points apiece.

Buckets by Chandler Gotfried and Alex Pate inside gave the Bruins a slight 18-14 lead at the end of the opening quarter.

The two teams continued their close clash in the second quarter and the Dolphins trimmed the lead down to two - 25-23 - by halftime.

In the third quarter, with the Bruin big men (Gotfried and Pate) in foul trouble, Wood took over on offense and scored eight of his 14 points in the third to help the Bruins hang on to a 42-39 advantage by the start of the fourth quarter.

Gotfried came back and attacked the basket early in the fourth quarter, scoring eight of the Bruins first 10 points before fouling out with 1:36 left to play.

The Bruins were able to squelch any runs that Sunset attempted in the waning minutes of the game to clinch the win.

andquot;It was a hard-fought game by both teams,andquot; Coach Keith Wallin said. andquot;We had a lot of guys in foul trouble and we had guys who aren't used to being in that position step up and play big.andquot;

Gotfried led three Bruins in double-figure scoring with 19 points on the night. Wood added 14 points for the Bruins while Drafahl chipped in 10.

Andrew Tygart and Jonathan Fertig each contributed to the scoring with six points each and Pate added four of his own.

The next home game for the Azalea Bruins will be on Tuesday, March 4 against North Bend. The seventh grade game starts at 4 p.m. and the eighth grade game follows at 5:30 p.m.