Game #9-093: Idaho State at Portland PilotsNovember 15, 2012 10:00 pm
When I found out I had the day off work for Portland's home opener against Idaho State, I figured I would make a night of it instead of just coming and going as quickly as possible. Instead of driving, I rode my bike across North Portland, taking in the beautiful nighttime views off the Bluffs on my way to the Chiles Center.
After taking a couple minutes to recuperate from my walk, I came across The Hopping Cats' Seth Hunt (@), who I'd met last year at the same venue. We shot the breeze for a few minutes, discussing our season plans, making fun of the Sportz on TV and eating surprisingly good pasta under the stands.
Once he went back to set up with the band, I took my seat in the bleachers and started wondering whether anyone was going to show up. Until just before tipoff, I had the section all to myself, letting me find the best seat, relax and wonder what exactly I could say in the stands at the sleepy Jesuit college.
And then the barrage of children and parents arrived (three families and five grade-school-aged kids in all). Hello, family environment. Goodbye, bad sportsmanship.
As the visiting Bengals took an early lead over the host Pilots, I got lost in the teams' zone defenses and the empty seats before a first-half timeout filler.
Unbeknownst to me, the kids had slipped down to floor level, and their ringleader, Connor, was on the court, blindfolded, seeking a pile of pizza boxes placed on the court by Wally, the Pilots' mascot. Vaguely reminiscent of a Popeye with mismatched parts, the sailor knocked the boxes across the court as Connor was seeking them with nothing to go by but the cheers of the sparse crowd. Despite everything stacked against him - and the pizza boxes, which weren't really stacked at all - he managed to find just enough providence to get to the pile and win the prize.
Connor came sprinting up the stands in his free University of Portland T-shirt, with his fellow free-T-shirt clad friends in tow, and said, "Mom, we were just walking around down there and they asked if anyone wanted to go out there and I did it," not realizing that he was likely the only person who wanted to be on that court who wasn't in uniform. He was also young enough to not realize that pizza is not the most glorious prize. He was just happy he won.
After the kids went back to causing mayhem and generally not watching the game, Connor's mom said aloud, "I don't know how one small pizza is going to feed all five of them."
For the Pilots, the game went the same way. With a sparse crowd in the stands, there was little energy, and what there was was drained when the Bengals kept draining superhoops in the first half. But somehow, like the pizza boxes, something held them together just enough to take a slim lead into halftime,
Halftime was followed by four minutes of scoreless ball before UP finally pulled away, taking a lead they wouldn't surrender, despite a barrage of late Bengals superhoop attempts and offensive rebounds that could only trim the lead to three. Instead, junior Portland forward Ryan Nicholas' consistent contributions carried his team yet again, as his 22 points and eight rebounds led all players, and his Pilots started their home season with a 51-48 win. at PORTLAND 51, IDAHO STATE 48
IDAHO STATE 0-2 (0-0) -- M. Morgan 4-12 0-0 9; C. Hansen 6-13 0-0 15; T. Sanchez 2-4 0-0 6; A. Hatchett 0-5 1-2 1; N. Walters 5-7 0-2 10; T. Martin 1-2 0-0 3; A. Preh 0-1 1-2 1; N. Mason 1-3 0-0 3. Totals 19-47 2-6 48.
PORTLAND 1-1 (0-0) -- R. Nicholas 10-17 2-3 22; R. Barker 0-1 0-0 0; K. Bailey 4-6 3-3 12; T. Riley 2-8 0-0 6; D. Carr 0-2 0-0 0; D. Rodgers 1-1 2-4 4; K. Thieleke 2-4 1-1 5; T. van der Mars 0-1 0-0 0; O. Reinfelds 1-2 0-0 2; J. Ehlers 0-0 0-0 0; J. Bailey 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 20-44 8-11 51.
Three-point goals: IDST 8-22 (A. Hatchett 0-2; N. Mason 1-3; M. Morgan 1-5; T. Martin 1-1; C. Hansen 3-8; T. Sanchez 2-3), PORT 3-13 (T. Riley 2-5; R. Nicholas 0-2; K. Bailey 1-3; D. Carr 0-2; O. Reinfelds 0-1); Rebounds: IDST 21 (M. Morgan 8), PORT 30 (R. Nicholas 8); Assists: IDST 14 (M. Morgan 4), PORT 12 (D. Carr 4); Total Fouls -- IDST 14, PORT 12; Fouled Out: IDST-None; PORT-T. van der Mars.
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