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Knights Star Notches Triple-Double as the Skyhawks fall to Columbia Christian 82-71

Kyle Pinnell

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Hillsboro-The last time Philip Vesel and Bart Valentine shared the sideline came when they coached together at Warner Pacific College.

On Thursday afternoon, both coaches found themselves on the same court again, this time pitted against one another at the Les Schwab Invitational.

The result went in favor of Coach Valentine and Columbia Christian School as the Knights pulled away in the second half to defeat the Southridge Skyhawks 82-71 at Liberty High School.

“It’s an honor to coach against him,” Vesel said. “He’s a great man and a great coach. Obviously I don’t want to be on the losing end, but he’s got a great team and a high-level player that single-handedly beat us.”

That player was sophomore Ben Gregg who put in one of the performances of the tournament so far as he led all scorers with a triple-double of 36 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists.

“I kept a mindset and kept attacking and looking for my shot more than I did yesterday,” Gregg said when asked about his performance. “I was kinda passive yesterday so I wanted to be more aggressive with my shot and driving to the basket.”

Despite only being a sophomore, Gregg is already on the radar of schools such as Arizona, Gonzaga, Texas, and Oregon State.

“That kid is an amazing player and I don’t think that our guys respected that because he’s a two-way guy,” Vesel said.

Southridge (6-3) was led by senior Brock Henry who finished the game with 29 points and five rebounds.

The Knights (9-1) needed to bounce back from a 62-42 defeat to Gonzaga Prep Wednesday night and according to Gregg, it was important to set the tone.

Columbia Christian used their athleticism and height to spark their offense as they jumped out to a 9-3 lead in the first three minutes of the game.

“We needed a jump on them to prove that we weren’t going to back down to them and I thought we did that in the first quarter with a big lead,” he said.

Added Valentine: We came out with a lot of fire.

The Skyhawks showed fight in the second quarter where they climbed back into the game and even took the lead after Henry hit a three-pointer to put the Hawks up at 24-22.

They were able to upset the Knights by forcing turnovers and moving the ball on offense.

“We’re trying to give some of our sophomores a little more run and they competed hard,” Vesel said. “I think the physicality of the game sometimes is a little much, but I was pleased. I thought in stretches some guys did some nice things.”

In the second half, the Knights showed a renewed sense of effort and energy, using a 10-0 run in the first three minutes of the half to take a 49-34 lead.

The Hawks would pull to within ten again in the fourth quarter, but that is as close as they would get for the remainder of the game.

Valentine, who has lost only five times in his three seasons as the head coach of Columbia Christian, said that playing in the Les Schwab Invitational is a good challenge for his team who often doesn’t face this level of competition.

In fact, Columbia Christian is the smallest school to ever take part in the holiday tournament with an enrollment of just 101 students.

“I tell you, not only are we a small school, but we’re really young,” Valentine said. “We don’t see this level of defense a lot. It’s an honor for us to be here and I thought that we showed that we belonged here.”

Added Gregg: “[Playing in the LSI] is good because now we’re used to playing older and better teams so when we get back to our league it will not be as hard and hopefully we can win state.”

One thing that Vesel wished had been better from the Skyhawks perspective was the team’s energy.

“It’s not good,” he said simply. “You can’t be a team that picks your spots to play hard and that’s why we are where we are.”

Coming off a 45-67 loss to Lake Oswego, Vesel was really looking for his team to bounce-back and he acknowledged that he saw that in spurts, but it just wasn’t good enough.

“We have to be a player-led team and we gotta find some of those leaders who want to step up and hold guys accountable to playing hard all the time, not just sometimes.”

Next up the Skyhawks take on either Grant or Tigard at 10 a.m Friday. The Knights will face the team that the Hawks don’t at 1 p.m Friday.

“I was disappointed in our effort,” Vesel said. “We came out flat and we’re not really connected right now. We don’t dig in very well. Those were some of the things that I was worried about and this was the kinda tournament that reveals them.”

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Knights Star Notches Triple-Double as the Skyhawks fall to Columbia Christian 82-71