Century destroys Gresham, braces for Metro League
While not long, it's been a tough early season for the Gresham Gophers girls basketball team — and Hillsboro's Century High School didn't do them any favors in their game Dec. 28.
The Jaguars dismantled the overmatched Gophers 66-16 as part of the Century/Hillsboro Holiday round robin tournament held at Century and Hillsboro high schools. The young Jags got 35 points from junior Janelle Maligaya and sophomore Angela Baltazar — and an additional eight from 6-foot-6 sophomore post Amy Walkenhorst in limited minutes — for their sixth win of the season and their second of the three-game tourney.
"Our goal was to try and execute the offense and not turn it over as much, and I thought we did a fairly good job of that," said Century head coach Dave Gainey. "Overall, we're still fairly young, but we're starting to make some progress and I was proud of the girls tonight."
The game was over seemingly before it started, as the Jags had a 17 point lead after one, 33 at the half, and led 55-14 headed to the fourth quarter. But Gainey knew coming into the game that Gresham would likely struggle, so he saw this contest as an opportunity to work area in need of improvement and gain some valuable experience for girls who'd seen limited action.
"The overall goal of a game like this is for the starters to get a big enough lead so that the girls that are working hard in practice but don't get to see a lot of game time, get some quality minutes," Gainey said. "They're supportive of the starters and I told the starters it's important to be supportive of them."
Twelve roster players saw action for the Jags, nine of whom scored. Maligaya was impressive early and did most of her damage in the first half before sitting for much of the second, but it was Baltazar who stole the show, scoring from the perimeter as well as at the rim.
"Angie is really tough and has really improved," said Gainey. "The perimeter is kind of our go to thing. We've got some girls who can beat people off the dribble and finish well at the rim."
One of those girls is 4-foot-11 senior point guard Sharla Vidad.
"Sharla is tough," a chuckling Gainey said. "We just have to get her to slow down sometimes!"
Vidad scored 11 points that night, and like the majority of the starters, saw limited action in the second half. Gainey is excited about his team, which is much improved from last season, but also understands their eperience at the varsity level is limited. The speed and strength of the game has been a bit of an issue early-on, and — while relatively good defensively — they've struggled turning the ball over due to such.
"We're making a lot of progress," the coach said. "But turnovers and free throw shooting have been an issue, and have cost us games."
The sophomore Walkenhorst has made a nice contribution thus far, and Gainey feels she — at 6-foot-6 — will only become a bigger advantage for the team as she continues to develop on both the offensive and defensive end of the floor.
"Coach (Trevor) Smith has done a great job getting her stronger," Gainey said. "Her shot selection is much better and she has a great mind for the game. She's going to be a really good player for us as she develops."
And is the coach looking forward to the upcoming Metro League schedule?
"Yes and no," he said, with a laugh. "We're trying to tell the kids, our goal is to get into the playoffs."
He spoke to the difficulty of the Metro League, but said its depth means a sixth place finish will often get a team in on strength of schedule. While the coach knows that beating Southridge or Jesuit is likely not in the cards, he feels the competition can only help his team when they play outside of the conference.
"The idea is to play hard, have fun and do what we can to get better," Gainey said. "If we can play with the Southridge, Jesuits, and Westviews of the world, we can play with anyone."
Century went on to defeat Centennial 51-36 in the final game of the round robin event in Hillsboro. The Jags were scheduled to play at Glencoe Jan. 3, after the Tribune's press deadline, before traveling to face Sunset Jan. 10.