PORTLAND — The 3-point line was deeper, the paint was wider, even the court was bigger at the Moda Center in Portland. After a short adjustment period to the new dimensions of play, W.F. West fell to Mark Morris in a rematch of the District 4 title game last spring, 57-45.
“Such a cool experience to see what this is all about, and boy is this court huge,” Bearcats coach Chris White said. “It really doesn’t hit you until you start playing on it.”
The young Bearcats had trouble adjusting to the new court off the jump, and struggled with the Monarchs ball pressure almost all game, scoring in single digits in two separate quarters.
But White, nor his players, put blame on the size of the court Saturday. The Monarchs had to adjust on that same playing surface. The Bearcats just have some work to do.
“We’re still trying to develop our guards to handle pressure like that,” Bearcat guard Dirk Plakinger said. “We’re still trying to figure out how to put the pieces together but the ceiling is high for us.”
The Bearcats made just two three-pointers all night, both in the fourth quarter, and struggled from the field, especially on the inside.
Though Plakinger found room to get inside for layups and get to the foul line, the Bearcats especially had trouble feeding the post and getting junior Soren Dalan his touches.
Because of the high ball pressure and collapsing Monarch defense, Dalan didn’t get the touches he normally does around the basket.
“We’re still trying to figure out our team, we’re still trying to navigate that,” White said. “We have some pieces but we’re navigating our growth. I love these guys, we’re going to be just fine. It’s not the outcome we wanted but it’s early and we’re still learning and growing.
“Good job by their guards, they gave us a lot to think about. We were hoping to get the ball inside more but we couldn’t find effectiveness there. That’s pretty frustrating.”
But despite the loss, the Bearcats got a once-in-a-lifetime experience at an NBA arena, and will only get better after playing the district champions on a neutral floor in an early season matchup.
Perhaps the coolest moment for W.F. West was in the second half, when Plakinger broke away for a fastbreak dunk. The junior had a clear run to the rim and used two hands to safely glide the ball through the hoop for the highlight score.
“I knew I was going to dunk it,” Plakinger said. “I was listening to footsteps, but I knew it was clear. It was very cool. Playing in the big stadium, back home it's not huge like this.”
The Bearcats take on River Ridge next Tuesday in a non league contest for their next game.