No. 10 Huskies break an eight-game losing streak against No. 3 Cascade to earn a home play-in game on Saturday

PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion senior Ally Umbenhower celebrates after the Huskies defeated the No. 3 Cascade Cougars on Tuesday. North Marion had lost eight straight games to Cascade since joining the Oregon West Conference in 2015.After serving as the Cascade's punching bag for the past four years, the No. 10 North Marion girls basketball team got their parting shot against the No. 3 Cougars on Tuesday night, winning 54-52 on senior night to finish the regular season on a high note.

Since the Huskies (16-8, 6-4 Oregon West) joined the Oregon West Conference four years ago, the Cougars (17-6, 8-2) have been the undisputed queens of the court, winning four conference titles while compiling a 38-2 record against league rivals.

North Marion had dropped eight consecutive games to Cascade in that span of time, and the Huskies are set to move back to the Tri-Valley Conference next season while the Cougars are moving up to the 5A Classification.

With no guarantee the two teams will meet up in this year's state playoffs, Tuesday's regular season finale was the last guaranteed chance for North Marion to prove they could hang with the perennial 4A power.

PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion senior Lindy Wing drains a 3-pointer during a 16-2 run for the Huskies in the first quarter.But the Huskies had even more reason to win than just pride. While the team had already secured a berth to the play-in round of the postseason, North Marion entered the contest fourth in the conference standings. The team needed a victory to leap over Newport for third place to avoid opening the play-ins on the road.

Although the Cougars had little to play for after wrapping up their fourth straight league title the week before, that didn't stop Cascade from playing its starters for the entirety of the game, giving the North Marion gymnasium the charged atmosphere of a playoff contest.

The two teams didn't disappoint. After the Cougars took an opening 4-0 lead, the Huskies responded with a 16-2 run that included four consecutive 3-pointers from seniors Ally Umbenhower, Hannah Kinniburgh and Lindy Wing.

North Marion expanded its lead to 20-9 by the end of the quarter and kept Cascade at a double-digit deficit for the remainder of the half. But the Cougars came storming back in the third quarter to cut the Huskies' lead to 37-35 heading into the fourth.

The two teams traded shots throughout the final eight minutes, but North Marion continued to stay just ahead until Cascade senior Halle Wright scored five straight points in a 45-second span to tie the game at 52-52 with 30 seconds left.

And while the Huskies opened the game celebrating the career contributions of seniors Umbenhower, Kinniburgh, Wing, Emily Lucas and Juana Aguilera, it fell on the shoulders of sophomore Katie Ensign to deliver the victory in the tense final seconds.

PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion sophomore Katie Ensign hit the game-winning free throws with seven seconds left to put the Huskies up 54-52. Ensign finished with 10 points.After Umbenhower attempted a potential game-winning shot with seven seconds left that missed the mark, Ensign grabbed the rebound in traffic and was fouled on her follow-up attempt. Despite back-to-back timeouts from the Cascade bench, the second-year wing calmly made both shots to put the Huskies back on top and deliver the win.

Ensign finished the game with 10 points, while Umbenhower led the Huskies with 17, followed by 14 from Kinniburgh. Wright led the Cougars with 28 points.

With third place wrapped up, North Marion can now turn its attention to the play-in round, where the team will host the South Umpqua Lancers (10-13, 4-6 Far West League) on Saturday at 3 p.m.

A victory over the Lancers would propel the Huskies back to the first round of the state playoffs for the third straight year, where they would travel to a to-be-determined opponent on March 2.

PHIL HAWKINS - The Huskies celebrate their win over Cascade, which allowed North Marion to leap over Newport in the Oregon West standings and avoid a road game in the play-in round this Saturday.


One-sided rivalry
The Cascade girls basketball team has been North Marion's toughest opponent since the Huskies joined the Oregon West Conference in 2015.

Result, Date
North Marion 54, Cascade 52 - Feb. 20, 2018
Cascade 58, North Marion 50 - Jan. 31, 2018
Cascade 41, North Marion 33 - March 11, 2017
Cascade 53, North Marion 37 - Feb. 21, 2017
Cascade 44, North Marion 41 - Jan. 31, 2017
Cascade 65, North Marion 50 - Feb. 23, 2016
Cascade 49, North Marion 36 - Feb. 2, 2016
Cascade 66, North Marion 33 - Feb. 24, 2015
Cascade 56, North Marion 30 - Feb. 3, 2015

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