Storm upends T-Wolves

BMCC's Khabir Muhammad goes over the top of Chemeketa's Cory Neal for a lay in during the Timberwolves' 82-79 loss to the Storm Wednesday in Pendleton. <i>Staff photo by E.J. Harris</i>

The Blue Mountain Community College men's basketball team has had its share of letdowns. Plagued in the young season by early deficits, an abundance of turnovers and inconsistent scoring, it has yet to find its stride.

That trend continued through Wednesday's game against league opponent Chemeketa, which built its lead to as great as 13 in the first half.

However, this time around the Timberwolves weren't going to lay down and take the loss as they had done the previous time against this same opponent.

A furious 13-0 run by the T-Wolves gave them their first lead of the game 74-72, but it was not enough to hold off the Storm, who scored the final three points to get the 82-79 win.

After BMCC's Jamar Ransome sank his final shot from two feet to go up 79-78, the Storm found its answer when Rob Wood drove the lane unabated to the net for the score.

Khabir Muhammad - second for BMCC on the evening with 16 points - tried to retake the lead with a short jumper, but it rimmed out, and the Storm's Cory Neal sealed the win with two free throws.

"At least we had good character to come back and get even with a chance to win," BMCC coach Larry Bartee said. "We didn't quite get it pulled off. But the way we shot the ball in the first half - just 30 percent - it got us in such a hole we couldn't get out of it. We almost did, but almost doesn't count."

Most of the early troubles for the Timberwolves could be attributed to their poor shooting. At the half, they led Chemeketa in rebounds, blocks and steals and had committed less turnovers, but were a woeful 13 of 43 from the field.

The Storm - behind 14 points from Saquan Gary - outdistanced BMCC by shooting 44.7 percent in the same time frame, and managed to knock down four shots from outside the arc.

"We're mostly a second-half team," freshman guard Shann West said. "I knew we'd make it close in that second half, but had a bad turnover and a couple of bad shots that gave them the edge at the very end."

After the break the shots started to drop with better regularity for the 'Wolves. As a team, they shot an even 50 percent and Ransome scored 15 of his 23 in the second half.

"(Ransome) struggled in that first half," Bartee said. "He was just beside himself."

With Ransome stepping up his game, BMCC received some big performances off the bench as well.

Trey Bowie left with an injured leg and starting big man Chris James - who led all players with eight blocks - fouled out late, leading to an increased role for both West and Josh O'Gorman.

West - just one year removed from playing out his senior season at Pendleton high school - scored nine points for the T-Wolves, including the two on a reverse lay-in to give them their first lead.

"I've gotten more confidence on the floor," West said. "The first time we played these guys it was my first college basketball game. I only played a couple of minutes, but since then I've seen more minutes and my confidence has grown. Last weekend I got quite a few minutes.

"More playing time and now I'm shooting more, I have more confidence in my shot," he added about his improvements. "I expected it to come and I'm glad it did. I got a few points tonight to help my team."

Unfortunately for the Timberwolves, they could not get stops when they needed to. According to Bartee it's all part of the learning curve of a team of predominantly freshman that still has to learn to play together and learn how to win. But that time may be closer than he thinks.

"We can play with anybody," Muhammad said. "We have a problem with getting down and we its something we have to work on. But we're very close. It's just a matter of chemistry right now."

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CHEMEKETA (6-4) 46 36 - 82

BMCC (3-6) 34 45 - 79

CHEMEKETA - Suquan Gary 14, Anthony Steward 14, Jordan Berrier 10, Kellen Hawley 10, Rob Wood 9, Mitch Rice 8, Cory Neal 7, Zach Burdon 6, Ken Rice 4, Jeff Stricklin

BMCC - Jamar Ransome 23, Khabir Muhammad 16, Shann West 9, Josh O'Gorman 8, Jamarcus Harper 6, Trey Bowie 4, Robert Turner 4, Chris James 4, Curvonte McGown 3, Derrick Gosnell-Metcalf 2, Denard Hunter

3-point field goals - Chemeketa 8-24, BMCC 2-18. Free throws - Chemeketa 16-23, BMCC 13-20. Fouls - Chemeketa 12, BMCC 21. Fouled out - James (BMCC).

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