Girls' basketball: Molalla's league title repeat falling out of sight with pair of losses last week
Molalla got the better of Madras in the early going Tuesday, but even when it faced a double-digit deficit, Madras wasn't the least bit worried.
The Lady Buffs had been in a similar situation earlier this season, when they dug themselves a hole in the first half at Molalla on Jan. 16, only to come back and win.
The rematch was much of the same, as Molalla jumped out to a 15-11 lead after one quarter, and led by as many as 14 points in the second quarter. But the Lady Buffs closed the period on a 14-3 run, and used a 25-point third quarter to pull away from the Indians. With a 71-59 win, Madras remained undefeated in the Tri-Valley Conference, while Molalla was dealt its second loss in TVC play.
Early into the second quarter, Molalla scored nine straight points. Sierra Cox grabbed a steal and layup, Alicia Schultz hit a jumper, then Mattie Myers connected on a 3-pointer.
Following a Lynden Harry 3-pointer, assisted by Jiana Smith-Francis, Schultz hit two more deep balls, giving Molalla its largest lead, 28-14, and prompting Madras head coach Zach Lillebo to call timeout with 4 minutes, 2 seconds remaining in the half.
"We played, I thought, very good defense in the first half," Molalla head coach Phil Wiesner said. "We did get a few run outs because of that, and it created some offense for us. Even when we didn't get the run outs, in the halfcourt, I thought we were patient, looked for good stuff and played pretty confident."
The Madras timeout was a turning point, however, because as soon as play resumed, the Buffs began cooking on offense.
Jalaney Suppah opened the scoring run with a 3-pointer on the Buffs' next possession, and Jackie Zamora followed with a layup, thanks to a deep pass from Harry over the Molalla defense. Then, Harry hit another 3-pointer, and Kaliyah Iverson converted a three-point play with a layup and made free throw.
Harry put two more points on the board from the foul line with eight seconds left in the half. Harry led all scorers with 34 points, and Schultz had 24 points for Molalla.
"When we were at Molalla we ended up being down 10-2, and then came back in the end of the first quarter, so it was kind of the same thing," Harry said. "They like to drive and kick, they like to give it to Schultz — I don't blame them, because she's a good ballplayer.
"We have to be mentally tough at this point in the season, in order to beat the better teams and play through all the tough situations we have," Harry added.
Madras pulled ahead for good midway through the third quarter, when Harry scored near the rim, giving the Buffs a 44-42 lead at the 3:02 mark. They capped off another strong end to the quarter, extending their lead to 54-45 entering the fourth quarter.
With the loss, Molalla almost certainly denied itself the chance to repeat as TVC champions. However, the Indians' only losses in league have come against Madras, and they appear to be in solid shape for the postseason, provided they close the regular season strong, Wiesner said.
"We've got to take care of business," he said. "We're in second now, and we hope to keep it."
The Buffs haven't yet clinched the TVC title officially, however, they're raising the bar above a league title; they want to sweep the league and complete a perfect, 10-0 record.
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