Beaverton falls to Blues in title game

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton sophomore point guard Alyssa Christiansen looks for space to attack against St. Mary's in the championship game of the Interstate Shootout on Wednesday.

At the expense of an admittedly dragging and bushed Beaverton girls' basketball team, the St. Mary's girls' basketball team obtained the vengeance they so coveted in the championship of the Nike Interstate Shootout.

Playing their fourth hotly contested game in four days, the high-octane Beavers simply ran out of gas against an incentivized, ravenous Blues team that lost to Beaverton by 28 points just nine days prior to the title game. Beaten on the boards and unable to sustain their usual offensive efficiency, Beaverton lost to St. Mary's, 45-34, on Wednesday.

“I feel like we played hard, but they definitely came out and outhustled us,” said junior forward Dagny McConnell. “We were a little intimidated at first which caused rushed shots. And, with rushed shots, came turnovers and they scored on the other end.”

St. Mary's simply had more energy from the game's outset, flipping three offensive rebounds into a trio of lay-ups in the game's first four minutes. Four turnovers on the Beaver's behalf gave the Blues another batch of buckets and a 16-4 first quarter lead with 1:34 to go. Beaverton senior forward Shaunta Jackson drove left, powerfully spun back to her right shoulder, scooped in a hoop, and got the ensuing free throw after a St. Mary's foul. Yet, the Beavers—winners of nine straight coming into the contest— found themselves in the unfamiliar position of trailing early.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior post Shaunta Jackson makers her way into the lane against St. Mary's on Wednesday in the championship game of the Interstate Shootout.

“The slow start gave (St. Mary's) the momentum,” said junior guard Allie Mueller. “They kept outhustling us, but we played hard too. We just had some rushed shots and turnovers.”

Just when St. Mary's appeared on the verge of curving the Interstate Shootout into an all-full-scale licking, Beaverton battled back with a 7-0 run ignited by senior shooting guard Danielle Hartzog. After mauling St. Mary's point guard into a turnover, Hartzog sprung in-between two Blues defenders into the paint for a lay-up. Two possesions later Hartzog fed McConnell for a turnaround jumper, then hit Gigi Stoll on the right wing for a three that cut Beaverton's deficit to 19-14 with 2:44 left in the second quarter.

Hartzog, the all-league returner, who was named to Shootout's all-tournament team, took the game in her possesion and brought the Beavers back on course. Following a Hartzog free throw, Beaverton trailed just 21-15 at halftime.

“Danielle was able to get us going,” said McConnell. “She wanted to get this (championship win) for us, so she started going and getting the momentum going. I just feel like we started slowing down after that.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior post Dagny McConnell scored 16 points including 10 in the fourth quarter for the Beavers against St. Mary's in the Interstate Shootout Championship.

Beaverton stayed within striking distance in the third, after Stoll lowered her shoulder, burrowed into the paint and finished a bunny for two, plus the free throw to come within 23-18. However, St. Mary's cashed in two more offensive rebounds, and created ample extra possesions with their continual effort and vigor on the offensive glass.

“Defensively, I thought we were pretty solid,” said sophomore guard Alyssa Christiansen. “We defended well, we just had a hard time blocking out and getting the rebound. We were making the effort to box out, but we weren't getting to the ball. We need to go harder after the 50-50 balls and just go after it.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior Allie Mueller goes for a lay-up attempt in the second quarter of the Beavers' loss to St. Mary's in the championship game of the Interstate Shootout.

Sending at least four Blues to the offensive boards paid off in spades for St. Mary's, who took advantage of cracks in Beavers' 2-3 defense by crashing their bigs and athletic specimens like Bendu Yeaney. The Blues rushed the ball up the floor and put pressure on Beaverton with their pace, but their clear advantage laid on the glass where the worn-out Beavers were just a half-step slow. At the end of the third after a Christiansen lay-in, Beaverton trailed 30-21.

“They were crashing from all around,” said McConnell. “It was hard to get a body on someone at every angle of the basket because all five of them were coming in at the same time. They're a really athletic team. They really hustle and really push the ball. We just had to hang in there, but they outhustled us in the end.”

“In a zone there might be two people in your area and none in somebody else's,” added Mueller. “Sometimes you just get lost and someone gets through you.”

Not a team to roll over and concede defeat, the Beavers went to the well one more time with McConnell scoring three straight hoops to pull Beaverton within 35-27 with 4:03 to go in the fourth. Muller's steal with under a minute left, led to McConnell's 15th and 16th point of the night, but that was as close as Beaverton would get.

It was a rather brusque end to what was a superb four-day stretch of hoops in which the Beavers announced themselves as a true state championship contender with the likes of Oregon City, South Medford and Metro League archrival Westview. Knocking off 6A defending state champion Central Catholic, Lake Oswego, and South Salem

“I think this definitely helps our confidence,” said Mueller. “We played some really good teams and got to the championship, which is a huge accomplishment even if we didn't win. It gives us a little boost as we go into the rest of the season.”

Mueller said Beaverton can learn from the loss, specifically how to take better looks at the cup and improve their shot selection as a squad. Being composed and well-organized on offense are a few more missions Mueller mentioned the Beavers can improve in as they conclude the preseason and turn their focus to the Metro League.

“We're becoming stronger on the inside and outside every game,” said McConnell. “We're learning from our mistakes, and with that, it's only going to make us a stronger team by the end of the season.”

Beaverton finishes the preseason with games against Tualatin, Clackamas and Hermiston before taking on Westview at home in the Metro League opener on Jan. 24. McConnell, Hartzog, and Stoll who had nine points against St. Mary's were picked to the Interstate Shootout's all-tournament team.

“I feel like we're gelling more together,” added Christiansen. “We're helping each other on defense and encouraging each other to do better and play harder.”

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