PREPS: Defensive Benson girls reach 6A semifinals
In the program's first state tournament game in 22 years, the Benson girls basketball team handled itself like a seasoned outfit.
Riding their active defense, the Techsters held off Tigard for a 32-28 win on Wednesday in a Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A quarterfinal at Chiles Center.
Benson (21-5) will meet Beaverton (22-3) at 3:15 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.
Tayler Lyday scored 15 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and made a key steal late in the game to lead Benson to the victory over Tigard (23-3).
The Tigers were seeded No. 2 and Benson No. 7 entering the state playoffs, but it was the Techsters who led most of the way and responded when Tigard inched ahead in the fourth quarter.
"All year we've been talking about defense, defense, defense. That's the bread and butter of our program," Benson junior guard Makenzy Porter said.
Sophomore Aujae Yoakum also came up big. She finished with seven points, eight rebounds and two steals and was strong on the defensive end.
Benson limited two of Tigard's best scorers — Campbell Gray and Paige LaFountain — to 2-for-11 shooting. The Tigers shot 22.6 percent (7 of 31) and saw few open looks against the taller Techsters.
Benson outscored Tigard 14-4 in the paint and 7-2 on second-chance points.
The Techsters, with their full-court pressure and half-court quickness on defense setting the tone, had leads of six points early and eight points midway through the second quarter. But they couldn't shake a Tigard team that used a 2-3 zone to take away penetration to the basket.
Lyday did a lot of her work on the boards and from the free-throw line, where the junior made 9 of 13 foul shots.
"The key was getting the ball to the middle of the zone. When we did that, we were able to attack," Lyday said.
Tigard took a 22-21 lead with 5:40 remaining on a basket by Delaney Leavitt, who led the Tigers with 10 points. On the next possession, Lyday scored inside off a feed from Ludia Lukeji, then made a steal and was fouled, hitting one free throw to put the Techsters up two.
Porter, who had a rough shooting game, hit a driving 3-footer to put Benson ahead 26-24 with 3:06 on the clock. On the next possession, Yoakum converted off a feed from Lukeji to put Benson up four.
Tigard crept back within one as the clock ticked under a minute. But after a Benson timeout, Porter broke free for a layup off a sideline inbound play with Tigard in man-to-man defense.
Lyday came up with the last big defensive play, a steal near midcourt with the Benson lead at two points and 17 seconds left. She was fouled and made both ends of a one-and-one to push the lead to four.
Benson shot on
p27 percent from the floor, including 1 for 13 from 3-point range, yet found a way to win.
Benson coach Eric Knox, who wore a unique suit of pictures of cash to help remind his players to enjoy themselves, said he was not surprised his team was money in a tight game.
"It comes from experience. We're juniors now. We're composed," Knox said. "The way they've been playing in these playoffs has shown their true mettle. They had two tough playoff losses the last couple of years. Now it's time to figure it out."