Valiants opens 4A state play with 61-30 win over Seaside

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic's (from left) Emily McLeod, Bailey McDevitt, Noelle Mannen and Petra Flemmer cheer on their teammates during the final moments of the team's 61-30 state tournament win over Seaside.HILSBORO — Maddie Vinson said she's been waiting all week for this game.

Molly Davidson said she's been waiting a whole year.

Well, for the Valley Catholic High School girls basketball team, it was certainly worth the wait.

The Valiants, playing their first-ever state tournament game at the Class 4A level, got off to a flying start and never looked back, as they rolled to a 61-30 win over Cowapa League foe Seaside in a Class 4A tourney quarterfinal game played Thursday at Liberty High School.

“We were so fired up,” said Vinson, a Valley Catholic senior post who had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds in the victory. “I was waiting for this day all week. And, when today came, we were fired up. We brought it.”

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior Kaylynn Bush (32) looks to go up to the basket between Seaside's Maddi Utti (left) and Haylee Dundas in Thursday's state tournament game.“This was so exciting,” said Danielson, a VC junior post who scored a game-high 18 points. “I've been waiting for this since last year.”

Seaside, the No. 1 team out of the Cowapa League, moved to 20-6 on the season with the setback. Valley Catholic, the No. 2 team out of the Cowapa League, improved to 21-5 on the season with the win. The Valiants also advance to the semifinal round of the Class 4A state tourney. They'll play Henley (24-1) Friday at 6:30 p.m. at Liberty High School with a berth in Saturday's state championship game at stake.

“We're super excited for that,” Valley Catholic senior Kaylynn Bush said of Friday's semifinals. “We have experience. We won in 3A and we know what it takes. People doubt us, but we know what we can do.”DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior Maddie Vinson (33) battles for a rebounds in the state tourney win over Seaside. Vinson had 11 rebounds in the victory.

“People still need to worry about us,” Danielson said with a smile. “We're really excited for the semifinals.”

And the Valiants also seemed to be excited for Thursday's tourney opener, where they wanted to show Seaside who really was the better team. The Cowapa rivals split their two regular season games, but, in the state tournament rematch, Valley Catholic made sure that it really wasn't a contest.

“We were very motivated,” Danielson said. “We wanted to make it 2-1.”

“It was 1-1 with them,” Bush said. “It came down to who wanted it more, and that was us. We came I focused and ready. We said 'let's go, let's go.'”

And the Valiants were on the go, in a big way, right from the start of Thursday's quarterfinal contest.

On the offensive end of the court, Danielson and Vinson dominated on the inside. Danielson sank three baskets in the first 2 minutes and 6 seconds of the game, with the first hoop coming off an assist from freshman guard Noelle Mannen.

Vinson scored two early baskets of her own, both coming on follow-up shots helping Valley Catholic claim a 10-0 lead with 4:29 left in the first quarter.

Meanwhile, on the other end of the court, Seaside missed its first eight shots from the field against the swarming Valiant defense.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic junior Molly Danielson looks to go up to the basket in Thursday's state tourney game. Danielson scored a game-high 18 points in the 61-30 win over Seaside.The opening quarter ended with Valley Catholic holding a 12-2 lead. The Seagulls made just one of their 12 shots from the field in the period. Danielson had six points, two rebounds and a steal while Vinson pulled down six rebounds in the quarter.

“If I can get the rebounds, then my team has more chances to score,” Vinson said.

Bush showed the that the Valiants can also score from the outside, as she sank a pair of three-point baskets in the second quarter. Mannen added four free throws in the period, helping Valley Catholic push its lead to 28-9 at halftime.

There was no let up for the Valiants at the start of the second half. Danielson scored eight points in the third quarter. Vinson had two more baskets, both coming off assists from Mannen, and senior guard Emily McLeod drilled a three-pointer, giving Valley Catholic a 46-19 lead going into the fourth quarter.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic students show their spirit during the Valiants' 61-30 win over Seaside Thursday in a Class 4A state tournament quarterfinal contest.McLeod sank another three-point basket and scored six points in the final stanza, helping the Valiants close out the 61-30 victory.

“We all came out jacked and pumped up for this game,” Danielson said. “We not only talked the talk, but we walked the walk.”

The Valiants carried their excitement and enthusiasm into the final moments of the win, cheering loudly for the team's reserves that got into action late in the game.

“We just have a great team atmosphere,” Vinson said. “We're like a second family.”

“We were going crazy,” Danielson said.

Danielson, well, went crazy throughout the contest. She scored her game-high 18 points on a 5-for-7 shooting night from the field. She also made all eight of her free-throw attempts and pulled down eight rebounds.

“I knew I had the size advantage, and I took advantage of it,” she said.

Vinson also shot 5 for 7 from the field and nine of her 11 rebounds came on the defensive end of the court.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic players celebrate following their state tournament win over Seaside.McLeod scored 11 points, nine coming in the second half, and she had a pair of steals. Mannen scored 10 points to go with three assists and two steals. Bush had eight points and two assists and sophomore Petra Flemmer had three steals.

Valley Catholic, as a team, made 17 of 37 shots from the field in the win.

Sophomore Maddi Utti led Seaside with 14 points. The Seagulls made 12 of 46 shots from the field and they had 24 turnovers.

The winner of Friday's Valley Catholic-Henley semifinal game will meet either Cascade or Sutherlin in the Class 4A state championship game, which will be played Saturday, starting at 6:30 p.m., at Liberty High School.

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