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PREPS: Blues get to 6A girls bracket


PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: DAVID BALL - Jade Newton (left) of St. Mary's Academy goes on a drive during Saturday night's play-in victory over Gresham.St. Mary's Academy sprinted to a double-digit lead in the opening minutes and maintained a comfortable gap on the way to a 61-38 win over visiting Gresham in a Saturday girls basketball play-in game.

The Blues advanced to the 32-team Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A playoffs. St. Mary's, seeded No. 31, will be at No. 2 South Medford on Tuesday.

The Blues' cramped gym, with bumpers along three walls, also was the site of Gresham's season-ender in the first round last season.

St. Mary's guard Bendu Yeaney, a former H.B. Lee Middle School student, was the quickest player on the floor on Saturday, getting to the rim for a couple layups shortly after tip-off.

Also early in the game, teammate Jade Newton hit a 3 from the corner, and Mya Brazile lifted a layup over the side of the rim. The Blues kept up the pressure when Yeaney swiped the ball in the backcourt and fired a long pass to Newton for a transition bucket and an 18-4 lead that prompted the Gophers to spend their second timeout of the quarter.

The Gophers came out of the huddle with a plan for breaking the full-court press. Katlin Farris sent a quick pass to Kacy Childress near the center circle, and Childress relayed the ball ahead to Madison Allen for a contested layup.

Childress gave the visitors reason to cheer when she circled the perimeter as the final seconds came off the clock and beat the buzzer with a fadeaway from the right side.

The Gophers received the ball to start the second quarter with a chance to trim the margin to single digits. Gresham passed the ball to all corners of the court, patiently searching for a good look at the basket. But the chance was stolen away when Clara Ell anticipated a pass at the top of the arc and raced the other way for two points that put all five St. Mary's starters into the scorebook.

Gresham matched the scorebook feat moments later when Farris knocked down a pair of free throws.

But the Gophers couldn't keep pace with St. Mary's, which opened up a 43-15 lead early in the second half after Yeaney got to the hoop three straight times.

To Gresham's credit, it outscored the Blues 21-16 over the final 10 minutes — a spurt that would have been more pronounced if not for a handful of missed free throws.

Childress sparked the late run when she fought through a crowd of defenders to reach the far side of the rim and finish a layup. Allen followed by sinking a 3 from the corner despite having her arm hit on the attempt.

The Gophers got the margin under 20 points briefly after Emma Triplett came off the bench and hit a pair of foul shots with less than two minutes remaining.

Center Dosjanee McCloyn led the Gophers with 11 points, while Allen scored 10.

Yeaney finished with a game-high 17 for the Blues.