HILLSBORO -- When players step onto the court for the Les Schwab Invitational boys basketball tournament, they never know who could be in attendance.
That was the case on Wednesday night as former NBA players such as Kenyon Martin, Scottie Pippen and John Stockton looked on from courtside as the Tigard Tigers fell to the University School Sharks (Fla.) 76-51 in a packed gym at Liberty High School.
Sophomore Drew Carter had 21 points and six rebounds to lead the Tigers (5-3), who showed fight by outscoring the Sharks by nine in the third quarter after falling behind by as many as 27 points in the first half. The Sharks -- ranked 23rd in the nation by USA Today -- were led by Jalil Beauburn, who finished with a game-high 22 points and five rebounds.
“I was proud of how we competed in the second half,” Tigard coach Shawn Alderman said. “We were down 27 at the end of the first half and we could’ve quit, but we came out and cut it to 16 or 18 at one point.”
Despite arriving at its hotel at 1:30 a.m., University School looked like the team that was more awake and ready to go. The Sharks came out firing on all cylinders in the first quarter as they outscored the Tigers 25-6.
“Obviously there’s a lot of people here and they’re a really good team, so I think we had the jitters in the first couple minutes of the game,” Tigard senior Stevie Schlabach said.
Added Alderman: “The goal was to battle and compete and I don’t think we did that in the first quarter. We were playing scared a little bit, and when you play scared, bad things happen.”
University School coach Jim Carr was more than impressed with his team's first-half performance.
“I loved our first half. I thought we played exceptional defensively,” Carr said. “I thought we attacked the rim and shared the ball. With the long trip I’m happy with how we took control.”
When Tigard went on its 16-4 run in the third quarter, that feeling of energy turned into one of complacency for the Sharks.
“I thought we came out pretty strong in the first half, but throughout the game our defense died down,” University School senior Vernon Carey Jr. said.
Carey, who is committed to play at Duke next year, called the Les Schwab Invitational “one of the best holiday tournaments in the country,” something that is hard to argue with when former NBA players such as Stockton or Pippen are in attendance.
Schlabach called the opportunity to play in front of all these people “‘an honor.” Carey said it was an exciting opportunity to show everyone what they've got.
The Sharks finished the game shooting 49.2 percent from the field while outrebounding the Tigers 76-51. Tigard finished with 16 points off of turnovers and 18 points in the paint.
Next up the Sharks will play against Central Catholic in a quarterfinal at 8:30 p.m. Thursday. The Tigers will play against Grant at 1:30 p.m.
“When you come to a tournament like this with all these good teams, if you can go 2-2 it’s a pretty good tournament," Alderman said.
Kyle Pinnell is a junior at Southridge