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Estacada girls claim Tri-Valley opener

Tori Johnson has a big night to lead Rangers past Molalla


by: ESTACADA NEWS: PARKER LEE - Estacadas Sarah Rempelos spots an open teammate in the key during the teams 43-31 win over Molalla last week.Estacada post Tori Johnson has been the team’s best player this season, but she wasn’t especially happy with her previous few outings. She thought the Rangers’ conference opener against Molalla would be a prime setting to let go of the memories of those games. With the way she played against the Indians, she has probably forgotten about every shot she has ever missed.

Johnson battered Molalla mercilessly on Tuesday and lifted the Rangers to a 43-31 win.

“I really wanted to win this game,” Johnson said. “I had a lot of adrenaline. With it being the first league game, I think I was more focused than I had been.”

Molalla was obviously unaware of what Johnson was capable of, at least to start the game. The Indians used a shorter defender to try and contain her in the first quarter, and Johnson exploited the mismatch. She could not be stopped in the opening period and scored all 10 of Estacada’s points.

The first quarter served as a lesson for the Indians who spent the minute before the second period devising a plan for stopping Johnson. In the second frame, Molalla double-teamed Johnson the whole time – even when she didn’t have the ball. She wasn’t deterred by multiple defenders hanging all over her and she posted nine more points.

Johnson had 19 points at halftime, matching Molalla’s team total. She didn’t score right away in the second half, but she did showcase her other talents. In the first six minutes of the third quarter, Johnson had six rebounds and was a major player in Estacada’s defensive attack which held Molalla scoreless during that stretch. The Rangers were able to jump out to a 10-point lead during Molalla’s drought.

“I told them at halftime that we needed to get tougher on defense,” Estacada coach Mike Pomerenke said. “One of our problems all year has been getting back on defense, and we were starting to get slow in the first half. They did a much better job in the second half, and I was really happy with their effort.”

Johnson dropped in two buckets in the last two minutes of the third quarter to bring her total to 23 points. The Rangers maintained a double-digit lead into the first few minutes for the fourth quarter, so Johnson sat out for a bulk of the period. She still had as many points as the whole Molalla team up until the final three minutes of the game.

Even with Johnson getting some well-deserved rest, Estacada managed to hold its lead, something it struggled to do earlier in the season.

“It helped the girls to see that they can win close games when they get ahead,” Pomerenke said. “I think it helps to build a confidence that hasn’t been here in a long time.”

Johnson finished the game 10-of-16 from the field. She was 8-for-10 in the first half as she scored 19 of the team’s 23 points. Johnson had some help from her teammates on the offensive side of the court in the second half. Jessie Hunt opened the half with a 3-pointer and finished with five points. Freshman Maddi Thompson connected on two late layups to finish with six points.



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