Brayden Barron (first player on right) is much improved, says Barlow coach Tom Johnson (third from right). (Photo by Jon Olson)
Brayden Barron (first player on right) is much improved, says Barlow coach Tom Johnson (third from right). (Photo by Jon Olson)

No. 3 Barlow opened a season of high expectations with a 69-59 home win over No. 6 Beaverton in a 6A nonleague boys basketball game Friday.

Junior guard Jalen Atkins scored 23 points – including a pivotal, tie-breaking three-pointer in the fourth quarter – and junior Brayden Barron added 13 points as the Bruins prevailed in a matchup of two state-tournament teams from last season.

“I don't feel great about how we played, but I did like how we competed, especially defensively,” Barlow coach Tom Johnson said. “We made an awful lot of mistakes, especially offensively. Just typical first-game mistakes.”

Atkins made three three-pointers in a 15-2 run to end the first half, putting the Bruins ahead 39-25. Beaverton scored the first seven points of the third quarter, got within 48-42 heading into the fourth quarter and pulled even at 52-52 with about four minutes left.

“Our poor decisions on offense led to some transitions,” Johnson said.

But Atkins made a three-pointer and Barron scored in the lane to make it 57-52, and Barlow led the rest of the way.

“Jalen and Brayden made plays for us down the stretch,” Johnson said.

Johnson also praised the play of senior guard Cole Patrick, who added nine points and eight assists.

“He's been a real steadying influence for us,” he said.

Senior Aidan Rice scored 21 points to lead Beaverton, including nine in the third quarter. Senior center Chance Winter (6-11) and senior Max Elmgren had 15 and 14 points, respectively, for the Beavers. Rice, Winter and Elmgren are returning starters.

“We knew they'd be a handful,” Johnson said. “They're well coached, and they have three kids who can really play.”

Barlow returned three starters from a state semifinal team in Atkins, Patrick and 6-6 junior Mason Bierbrauer. The emergence of the 6-6 Barron, a part-time varsity player last season, has provided a boost.

“Brayden gives us a much more athletic front line,” Johnson said of Barron, who grew two inches since last season. “He's a high flier. He rebounds well, and he can block shots.”

In Friday's game, Barlow ran a six-man rotation that also included senior guard Sentori Martino and junior guard Blake Hills.

“Those six are going to be counted on to do a lot this year,” Johnson said. “We're fairly young, still, they play more mature than juniors. We're a much more physical team than we were a year ago.”

Overby emerges

Lincoln found volume scoring from an unexpected source in opening the season with road wins over Grants Pass and South Medford.

Tanner Overby, a 6-1 senior post who was a JV player last season, erupted for 41 points as the Cardinals defeated Grants Pass 65-58 on Friday and had a team-high 22 points in a 67-58 win over South Medford on Saturday.

Grants Pass focused its defense on Lincoln's Evan Heisler, a 6-10 senior, and held him to six points. Overby took advantage by shooting 13 of 17 from the field, hitting his only three-point attempt, and making 14 of 15 free throws.

“Nobody knows about him,” Cardinals coach Heather Seely-Roberts said. “He's so athletic. He can finish, and he's strong. He's got quite a few moves. He's like this freak-of-nature athlete.”

Seely-Roberts said that Heisler, who had 19 points against South Medford, and Overby are a “really nice complement together. They showed that you can't double on one because the other one will hurt you.”

Overby did not play basketball as a sophomore, instead focusing on golf and finishing tied for seventh in the 6A tournament. He went out for basketball as a junior and “got the bug” for it, according to Seely-Roberts.

“Last year, we had so many seniors, and we used him in practice all the time because he's just really hard to guard,” she said. “He got to go against all those good kids every day.”

Overby aspires to continue playing basketball in college. Seely-Roberts said schools such as Willamette, Lewis & Clark and Pacific are showing interest.

“I think he'd be a great D-3 player,” Seely-Roberts said.

Rams start strong

Central Catholic, No. 2 in the OSAAtoday 6A preseason coaches poll, won two of three games against California teams during the weekend in the Chris Vontoure Classic at De La Salle High School in Concord, Calif.

The Rams defeated Sacramento 73-49 on Thursday and Serra 58-38 on Friday to reach the tournament final, where they lost to De La Salle 57-56.

“We played pretty darn well,” coach David Blue said. “It was a great experience for us. Definitely learned a lot about the fight of our team. Hopefully, it bodes well for us this season.”

Oregon-bound junior guard Isaac Carr led the way for Central Catholic, scoring 28, 10 and 20 points in the three games despite opponents stacking their defenses against him. Carr and sophomore guard Zamir Paschal were named first-team all-tournament.

Seaside trips No. 1

No. 4 Seaside opened the season Nov. 29 with a 57-55 home win over No. 1 and reigning state champion Cascade in an early 4A showdown.

Austin Palmer, a 6-6 junior guard, made two free throws with 6.5 seconds left for the winning margin. Cascade junior guard Kaiden Ford missed a last-second three-point attempt.

Palmer, scoring from the perimeter and on drives, poured in a game-high 27 points for Seaside, which also got 10 points from senior forward Ismael Jantes. Ford scored 26 points and Anthony Best added 10 points for Cascade.

Seaside, the two-time reigning Cowapa League champion, avenged a 70-50 loss at Cascade in last season's opener. The Seagulls lost in the first round of the 4A playoffs last season.

Cascade rebounded from the loss to win two games at the Crook County Tip-Off Classic during the weekend. The Cougars defeated 4A Mazama 63-44 and 5A Bend 71-31.