WOODBURN — The hardest thing about coming up with a game plan against this edition of Woodburn boys basketball is trying to figure out when the Bulldogs are going to explode.
The fourth-ranked Bulldogs don’t even know themselves.
Friday night, in a huge Oregon West Conference opener against visiting Sweet Home, it happened in the second quarter. Woodburn got five three-pointers from four different players, blew off to an 18-5 run, scored 26 points and set the stage for a relatively easy 61-47 win over a very good, ninth-ranked Husky team.
The idea for the Bulldogs is “toujours l’audace” (always audacious). Every time down the floor is a chance to attack. They’ve been fast enough, deep enough and experienced enough (10 seniors) to run out to a 10-1 start doing it just that way.
“We want to get out and run whenever we can,” said coach Raul Veliz, “but in order to to get into transition we have to make defensive stops.”
In fairness, the Huskies took better aim at their feet than they did at the basket to dig a hole for themselves in the first half. Some of that was the constant invasion of Woodburn arms into their passing schemes, but some of it was just a tough shooting night.
The game was tame enough for a quarter, when the Bulldogs crept out to a 9-8 lead. OK, fine.
Then Woodburn guard R.J. Veliz (son of) dropped a wide-open three-ball from the left side. Twenty-three seconds later Kevin Cruz did the same thing from the same spot, and the home team never trailed again.
The ensuing 18-5 run included three-pointers by Trevor Karsseboom (same left side), Veliz again (him, too) and Tyson Doman from the opposite side. It also included a home-run pass on a length-of-the-court fling to Veliz.
The Bulldogs did the same thing two other times during the game. Coach Veliz called the play from the bench.
“We like to take advantage of what they were giving us,” he said. “In their full-court, man-to-man, they were fronting us, so that leaves the back side open.”
The 18-5 run gave Woodburn a 33-18 lead and set the tone for the rest of the game. The Huskies (11-2) were game enough in the second half. After E.J. Barajas hit a layup for a 50-37 lead in the second minute of the fourth quarter, they went on a 10-4 streak of their own that had them within 54-47 with fully three minutes left.
It was enough time to recover for a win, but Woodburn wasn’t having any of it. The Bulldogs erupted for the last seven points of the game — from three different players — and Sweet Home was finished.
For now. The two teams play again at Sweet Home on Jan. 29.
R.J. Veliz led all scorers with 23 points. He got them just about every conceivable way, but the mentality was all the same — go for it.
“We love it,” he said of the full-time attack mode. “It gives us an opportunity to use our athleticism. I mean, there are five guys on the floor, and anybody who comes in can do the same thing.
“Once we get in a rhythm, we just take off and run. When we’re rolling, we’re rolling. It’s hard for some teams to keep up with us.”
Most of the Bulldog roster has been in the town for all of their lives. It makes for a comfortable team atmosphere.
“We’ve known each other for a long time,” R.J. Veliz said. “We’ve played on different teams, but we’ve stuck around. We all have the same goal in mind.”
Karsseboom added 10 for the Bulldogs. Hunter Coulter scored 14 to lead the Huskies.