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Team effort sends Westview girls to semis


by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Westview Wildcats Jaime Nared shoots over St. Marys Academy Blues in the first half of the 6A girls quarterfinals at Moda Center.

Not now.

Not here.

Not again.

When it came down to it, Westview wasn’t going to let its state championship dream die at the hands of St. Mary’s in the 6A state quarterfinals on March 12.

And, if the Wildcats keep playing in the same attack, pedal-through-the-floor mode they did in beating the Blues 59-49, Westview’s intention of cutting down the Moda Center nets could in truth come to completion.

“We had to come in with our best fight for four quarters,” said senior Jaime Nared. “Everyone just stepped up huge in this game and I can’t wait for the next two. Winning is always a confidence-builder, but it’s even better that we played together. More and more people are stepping up as the season progresses. I think we’ll be great in the next two games.”

“We really had each other’s backs,” said Westview senior guard Olivia Williams. “If someone made a mistake, we’d come back and reset because we needed each other. I think that’s what kept us grounded and together. We’re a team and we played like a team. We supported each other like a team.”

Riding Nared’s transcendent talent, while getting crucial helping hands from sophomores Scoggin and Hailey Garrity, the Wildcats extended their season to the state semifinals against Oregon City. Nared was superior, scoring 34 points— 24 of which came in the second half— while pulling down 14 huge rebounds against St. Mary’s physical frontline, and snatching six steals. Garrity (10 points, seven rebounds) and Scoggin (13 points, three assists) came up big with clutch plays in crunch time that helped stem the Blues’ truculent defensive ways.

“We’ve been working on playing as a team and being more incorporated with each other,” said Scoggin. “Even just giving each other high-fives at the free throw line, we’ve been practicing that. I think that really helped today with the energy we brought.”

In what was the most highly-anticipated quarterfinal match-up of the day, and a game many thought Westview was destined to lose, the Wildcats circled the wagons with ruggedness and pivotal execution. Westview proved it’s ready to roughhouse with anybody who stands in its way of grabbing a state title. This newfound disposition was substantially different, the Wildcats said, than when Westview was soundly knocked out state title contention by Central Catholic last year in the 2013 quarterfinals.

“We trusted each other as a team, that was the biggest thing today,” said Nared. “Last year we didn’t play together. We’re doing that a lot better this year. We’re going to battle to the end of the game. I know people are going to fulfill roles on this team.”

“I think our mentality has really changed,” added Williams. “There’s a difference between thinking we can and believing we can win. I think everybody’s mentality is on the same page now, not just one or two people who want it. Coaches, players on the bench, we all want it now.”

Nared scored 12 of Westview’s 14 third quarter points by asserting her two-way All-American dominance on both ends of the court. Twice the 6-foot-2 forward grabbed the ball off the glass after fending off St. Mary’s all-state forward CeCe Wooten, pushed the rock up the floor and buried pull-up jumpers over the Blues’ defense.

Following two free throws from St. Mary’s, Nared corralled the board, started the break on her own, dropped a playground right-to-left crossover on Wooten and flicked the three ball from the right wing in the face of a Blue forward to go up 34-27.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Westview Wildcats Ashley Scoggin brings the ball up court against St. Marys Academy Blues Tasia Bilbrew in the second half of the 6A girls quarterfinals at Moda Center.

After Williams was stripped of the ball by Martina McCowan underneath the Wildcats’ hoop, Nared rebounded her own miss, turned around under the rim and threw in the basket while getting whacked on the arm. The all-everything forward hit the free throw for good measure to go up 37-27 with less than a minute to go.

“Jaime’s the leader of the bandwagon, and we’re all going to ride it together,” said Williams. “I’m proud of her for stepping up. It’s not easy to step up in this kind of situation that we’re coming into. It shows a lot about her character as a player. She’s fearless and she has a lot of heart. She wants it, and that makes us want it even more.”

Nared stabilized the second half for her Wildcat teammates, which let Scoggin and Garrity get comfortable going into the fourth. Garrity opened the final period with a 15-foot baseline jumper, then Scoggin drilled a one-dribble pull-up to put Westview up 41-33. Garrity hit another baseline jumper after a dish from Scoggin, then the forward returned the favor by finding her point guard with a fast break lay-up to go give Westview a commanding 48-37 lead with 5:12 left in the fourth.

“We knew we weren’t playing to the best of our ability in the first half,” said Nared. “We said this wasn’t the best we could play and we adjusted well together.”

Scoggin added another lay-up later in the fourth after a long outlet from Nared for her 12th and 13th points, giving Westview another much-needed double-digit scorer on the perimeter.

“I felt like I needed to attack,” said Scoggin. “I needed to take their weakness and oppose that on them. I didn’t care how they felt, I was just going to attack.”

Trailing 16-9 with 7:47 to go in the second quarter after a Bendu Yeaney lob bucket at the rim the Wildcats fenced in the Blues’ high-scoring attack, repressing St. Mary’s to just two free throws the rest of the period.

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - St. Marys Academy Blues Martina McCowan looses contol of the ball against Westview Wildcats Dana Bentz in the first half of the 6A girls quarterfinals at Moda Center.

Nared scored eight of her 10 first half points in the second quarter, finally able to shake free from the shackling defense of Yeaney and Wooten, both of whom did an admirable job of denying Nared the ball and being physical with the University of Tennessee commit. Westview broke out with a 12-0 rush that included Nared nailing an NBA-range three from the top of the key that gave the Wildcats a 19-17 lead with 3:04 to go in the second quarter.

“That’s when we buckled down,” said Williams. “We said defense creates offense, and defense wins games. We worked our butts off to get in our rotations and made sure we got it done.”

It wasn’t all Nared, all the time, however. Scoggin was crucial, scoring seven points and playing solid defense against McCowan. And, Garrity was a big spark off the bench with four points and six rebounds — three on the offensive glass. Westview turned the ball over six times in the first half, but calmed its nerves and focused in on the offensive end to help erase a 14-9 first quarter deficit.

“We definitely started talking more,” said Scoggin. “And, on a bigger court like that you kind of have to talk. We realized where (the Blues) were, what their tendencies were and we adapted to that. I think that really helped get that lead.”