The Pioneers fall 25-20 at Sherwood in NWOC clash

SHERWOOD — Every offensive possession seemed to be a challenge.

Every single point had to be earned.

In other words, the defense came out on top.

And, unfortunately for the Sandy High School girls basketball team, so did Sherwood.

The Lady Bowmen, pulling ahead in the final minutes, edged the Pioneers 25-20 in a Northwest Oregon Conference game dominated by defense, played Friday at Sherwood High School.

“I think we pretty much put our best effort forward,” said Sandy junior post Raquel Pellecer, who scored a team-high six points before fouling out with 1 minute and 2 seconds left to play in the contest. “We just had a couple of mistakes.”

With the win, Sherwood improved to 7-2 in NWOC play at that point (12-6 overall), keeping the Lady Bowmen alone in second place in the conference standings at that point.

“That was a tough game,” Sherwood coach Wes Pappas said. “We knew they'd grind us. They do a good job of taking you out of what you want to do.”

The Pioneers moved to 5-4 in NWOC games at that point and to 10-8 on the season.

“Sherwood has a good program, and Sandy is getting up there,” Pellecer said. “This season has been a big step forward for us. We've got to double-digit wins for the first time in nine years.”

The Pioneers showed on Friday that their defensive play likely has been a key to their success this season.

In that contest, Sandy, with its swarming zone defense, helped force Sherwood into a 5-for-32 shooting night from the field.

“Coach has been on us in practice about our effort on defense,” Pellecer said.

While Sandy may have been excelling on defense in Friday's game, so were the Lady Bowmen, who played a part in the Pioneers' 6-for-23 shooting performance.

The defensive dominance started right from the opening tip.

Sandy got a three-pointer from senior Kaylee Barnett to claim a 3-0 lead with 5:15 left to play in the first quarter. But the Pioneers were able to score just two more points, coming on a layup by Pellecer off an assist from junior guard Molly Nutt, the rest of the period.

But Sherwood also managed just five points in the quarter, leaving the teams tied at 5-5 at the end of the opening period.

Points were even harder to come by in the second quarter. Sandy scored three points, coming on two free throws by Pellecer and one by senior Dalen Richardson, in the period. Sherwood scored four points in the quarter to take a 9-8 halftime lead.

The Lady Bowmen, getting a follow-up hoop by senior post Jaelyn Funk and a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Taylor Corno, opened their lead to 13-8 with 6:52 left in the third quarter. But Sandy didn't allow Sherwood to score again in the remainder of the period.

Meanwhile, the Pioneers got a three-pointer by freshman Leah Barnett and a basket on a foul-line jumper by junior Sofia Remsburg to tie the game at 13-13 going into the fourth quarter.

Sandy then took its first lead since the first quarter, at 15-13, when Pellecer went 2 for 2 from the foul line with 7:45 left in the game.

Sherwood answered with a 6-0 run, giving the Lady Bowmen a 19-15 lead with 3:14 remaining. The Pioneers cut the margin to one, at 19-18, when Remsburg sank a three-pointer from the right corner with 1:31 left to play.

Sherwood got a pair of free throws by junior post Mallory Shields with 1:06 remaining, but the Pioneers cut the lead back to one, at 21-20 when Nutt scored on a drive to the basket with 25 seconds left to play.

Sherwood upped the lead to 23-20 when Corno sank a pair of free throws with 14.8 seconds remaining. Then, following a Sherwood time out, Funk stole the ensuing Sandy inbounds pass. The Pioneers were then forced to foul, and Sherwood junior Jessica Thiel went 2 for 2 from the stripe with 8.7 seconds left to play to wrap up the 25-20 win for the home team.

“We need to learn to win these close games,” Pellecer said.

In addition to her team-high six points, Pellecer also pulled down eight rebounds in the contest. Remsburg added five points for the Pioneers while Kaylee Barnett and Leah Barnett scored three points apiece.

Shields had eight points and nine rebounds to lead the way for Sherwood.

Prior to the loss at Sherwood, the Sandy was tipped 46-44 by Wilsonville in a conference game played Feb. 11 at Sandy High School. On Saturday, the Pioneers fell 43-28 at Milwaukie.

Sandy was scheduled to host NWOC-leading Rex Putnam on Tuesday. Results of that game weren't available when The Sandy Post went to press. The Pioneers will be back in action Thursday when they host Liberty in a game starting at 7:15 p.m. at Sandy High School. On Tuesday, Sandy will travel to St. Helens for a 7:15 p.m. contest.

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