Valley Catholic girls to play for third place on Saturday

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic freshman guard Noelle Mannen puts up a scoop shot during Friday's Class 4A state tournament semifinal game.HILLSBORO — The effort was there.

So was the hustle.

The swarming, pressing defense was definitely there.

But, unfortunately for the Valley Catholic High School girls basketball team, in the second half, at least, the baskets weren't.

The Valiants, after battling their way to a 28-26 halftime lead over Henley, couldn't find their shooting touch in the second half, as they fell 52-38 to the Hornets in a Class 4A state playoff semifinal game played Friday at Liberty High School.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior post Bailey McDevitt (52), with her Valiant teammates around her, takes the court prior to Friday's state tournament semifinal game.“It was a little disappointing, because we really wanted it,” said Valley Catholic sophomore Petra Flemmer, who turned a pair of steals into three-point plays during the contest. “We just couldn't hit our shots.”

“It's funny, because last night (in a 60-31 quarterfinal win over Seaside), everything we threw at the basket seemed to go in,” Valley Catholic coach John Innes said. “Tonight, everything rolled away.”

“We left it all on the floor,” said junior post Molly Danielson, who led the Valiants with 10 points. “We really hustled — hustle plays are everything for us.”

With the win, Henley, the Skyline Conference champion, improved to 24-1 on the season. The Hornets will face unbeaten Sutherlin for the Class 4A state title Saturday, starting at 6:30 p.m. at Liberty High School.

DAN BROOD - VC senior guard Emily McLeod (right) keeps the pressure on Henley's Heidi Mueller.Valley Catholic, the No. 2 team out of the Cowapa League, moved to 21-6 on the season with the setback. The Valiants will end their season Saturday, when they face Cascade in the state tournament third-place game, set to start at 1:30 p.m. at Liberty.

Valley Catholic, in Friday's semifinal tilt, found themselves facing a quick 6-0 deficit, as Henley got three-point baskets from seniors Heidi Mueller and Britanny Kochenderfer to open the contest.

The Valiants did get get a pair of baskets from freshman guard Noelle Mannen and a three-pointer by senior Kaylynn Bush in the opening period, but Henley would go on to hold a 19-11 lead at the end of the first quarter.

“We had a rough first quarter,” Danielson said.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic sophomore Petra Flemmer comes up with a second-quarter steal. She ended up converting a three-point play to spark the Valiants' second-quarter rally.But the Valiants seemed to turn things around in the second quarter — behind their swarming, pressure defense.

After Danielson opened the period with a pair of free throws, Flemmer came up with a backcourt steal. She drove to the hoop and was fouled as she sank a layup. Flemmer then sank her ensuing free throw to cut the Henley lead to 19-16 with 7 minutes and 36 seconds left in the quarter. The three-point play also seemed to spark the Valiants.

“It was huge,” Danielson said.

“That felt really good,” Flemmer said. “I was happy about that.”

Valley Catholic, riding its defense, grabbed the momentum after that. DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior post Maddie Vinson yells following Petra Flemmer's three-point play in the second quarter of Friday's state tourney semifinal game.The Valiants, getting three steals from senior post Bailey McDevitt, and a couple of free throws from Mannen, trimmed the margin to one, at 24-23, with 4:24 left in the half.

The Valiants then took their first lead of the contest, at 25-24, when senior guard Emily McLeod had a steal and layup with 3:48 remaining in the second quarter.

Valley Catholic would get a follow-up basket by McDevitt and a free throw by Mannen in the final 1:38 of the period to claim a 28-26 halftime lead.

“The press really helped us,” Danielson said.

“We pushed ourselves,” Flemmer said. “We wanted it so bad.”

But, for the entire third quarter, the bounces certainly didn't seem to go Valley Catholic's way. The Valiants missed all 12 of their shots from the field in the period. There only point of the quarter came on a free throw by Flemmer with 4:41 left in the quarter.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior Kaylynn Bush looks to move the ball up court in Friday's state tournament game.Meanwhile, Henley, getting four points each from Kochenderfer and 6-foot-3 senior post Natalie DeLonge in the period, went on to take a 37-29 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Valley's shooting woes continued in the final stanza, as they missed their first six shots of the period. Henley, getting three straight baskets from DeLonge to open the quarter, pushed their lead to 45-30 with 5:26 left to play in the contest.

But the Valiants kept playing hard, and they tried to battle their way back into the game.

Bush ended the team's shooting slump, sinking a driving 10-foot jumper with 4:03 left to play.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic players cheer on their teammates as they tried to rally late in Friday's state tourney semifinal game.Flemmer followed with her second steal and three-point play of the game, making the score 45-35 with 2:25 remaining. The Valiants got even closer, at 47-38, with Danielson sank a short-range bank shot off an assist from Bush coming with 1:13 left to play.

But Henley put the game away at the foul line, going 5 for 8 from the stripe in the final minute of play to get the 52-38 win.

“The girls played hard. They played some really good defense,” Innes said. “But that third quarter was unfortunate, and we gave up too many second-chance points.”

In addition to her 10 points, Danielson also had a team-high seven rebounds. Flemmer, Bush and Mannen each scored eight points. Senior post Maddie Vinson has six rebounds.

DeLonge had 16 points and 11 rebounds to lead the way for Henley.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic players gather around a sign made for the squad following Friday's semifinal game at the Class 4A state tournament.The Valiants will be looking to bounce back in Saturday's third-place game with Cascade, which is 24-2 on the season.

“We're going to be ready to go,” Danielson said.

“It's definitely important for us to finish up with a win,” Flemmer said. “We're going to be looking to start off strong.”

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