VC girls take fifth place in their first year at the 4A level

DAN BROOD - The Valley Catholic girls basketball team players and coaches gather with the fifth-place trophy following Saturday's game at the Class 4A state tournament.HILLSBORO — The Valley Catholic High School girls basketball team didn't end its first season at the Class 4A level empty-handed.

And the Valiants are pretty happy about that.

Valley Catholic, a former Class 3A state powerhouse, concluded its initial season at the higher level by earning the fifth-place trophy at the Class 4A state tournament, which concluded Saturday at Liberty High School.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior post Maddie Vinson takes the court prior to Saturday's third/fifth-place game at the Class 4A state tournament.The Valiants received their first-ever Class 4A girls basketball hardware after falling 47-34 to Cascade in a hard-fought tourney third/fifth-place game, played Saturday at Liberty High School.

“This means so much to us,” Valley Catholic senior post Bailey McDevitt said as she clutched the fifth-place trophy following the game. “We accomplished so much this year. No one ever thought we'd be here. But we're a close team, and we wanted it for each other. This is truly remarkable.”

DAN BROOD - Valiant freshman guard Noelle Mannen puts up a running shot in the first quarter of Saturday's game.“Every year, somebody doubts us,” Valley Catholic senior guard Kaylynn Bush said. “And we prove people wrong every year. Finishing fifth in state in a great feeling.”

Cascade, the Oregon West Conference champion, finished its season with a final overall record of 24-2. Valley Catholic, the No. 2 team out of the Cowapa League, ended its season with a final overall mark of 21-7.

“It was a great season,” Valley Catholic coach John Innes said. “I'm so proud of the kids. Our senior leadership was great, and that trickled down to the rest of the team.”

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior Kaylynn Bush looks to go to the basket against Cascade's Halle Wright in Saturday's state tournament game.“All season we played hard,” McDevitt said. “And we practiced hard every day. I'm so proud of the team.”

“We were a family. We all clicked,” Bush said. “And everyone contributed.”

For Bush, this year's tournament appearance marked the fourth straight year she has played in a season-ending state tournament.

“It's been a blessing,” she said with a smile. “I don't even know what to say.”DAN BROOD - VC senior post Bailey McDevitt (52) takes a shot over Cascade's Halle Wright. McDevitt scored a team-high 12 points.

The Valiants, in Saturday's state tourney finale, got off to a promising start. Baskets by McDevitt and Bush, and a free throw by junior post Molly Danielson, gave Valley Catholic a 5-3 lead with 6 minutes and 3 seconds left to play in the first quarter.

But the hot-shooting Cougars took off from there. Cascade shot at an 8-for-13 clip from the field, with a pair of three-pointers, in the final 5:49 of the period. McDevitt had two more baskets in the quarter, but the Cougars went on to claim a 19-9 lead at the end of the opening period.

Cascade kept rolling early in the second quarter. The Cougars, getting a three-pointer by senior Alix Biddington, scored the first five points of the period to up their lead to 24-9.

The persistent Valiants fought back. VC, getting a three-pointer by senior Emily McLeod, a short-range bucket by Danielson, and a basket on a drive to the hoop by freshman guard Noelle Mannen, scored seven straight points to trim the lead to 24-16 with 5:17 left in the period.

But Cascade ended the first half on a 6-0 run, which included a buzzer-beating, three-point bank shot by Biddington, to claim a 30-16 halftime advantage.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic sophomore Petra Flemmer dives of the court to grab a loose ball in Saturday's Class 4A state tournament game.The Cougars would go on to open their biggest lead of the game, at 38-20, when senior Kayla Loukojarvi scored on a layup with 4:19 left to play in the third quarter.

But the never-say-die Valiants came fighting back again.

Valley Catholic got a pair of baskets from McDevitt, three points from senior post Maddie Vinson and a pair of free throws from Bush, all in the final 3:47 of the period, to cut the Cougars' lead to 42-30 going into the fourth quarter.DAN BROOD - VC senior Maddie Vinson battles Cascade's Kelsey Molan (25) and Chey Robbins for a loose ball in Saturday's tourney game.

Cascade, slowing the pace in the final stanza, got baskets from freshman Halle Wright and junior Alyssa St. Peter, to open a 46-30 lead with 3:40 left to play in the game.

Valley Catholic, battling to the end, got a free throw from McLeod and a three-point play by McLeod, coming with 1:12 left in the contest, to make the final score 47-34.

“We just wanted it,” McDevitt said. “We were going to play to the end no matter what.”

“We knew they were good,” Bush said of Cascade. “But we were able to chip away in the second half. We wanted to have fun in the second half, and we had great fun.”

Bush seemed to have fun from start to finish on Saturday. During the pregame starting line-up introductions, she turned and blew a kiss to the Valley Catholic fans before running onto the court.

“It was a huge thank you to them,” she said. “They're a huge part of everything for us.”

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic head coach John Innes (kneeling) watches the action during Saturday's state tournament game.McDevitt, in her final game for Valley Catholic, led the team in scoring with 12 points. She also had seven rebounds and three steals in the contest.

“I just wanted to go out there and leave it all on the floor,” she said. “I put my heart and soul out there for all of my girls.”

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic players and fans cheer during the second half of Saturday's game.McLeod had a strong game coming off the bench for VC, scoring seven points and coming up with a pair of steals. Danielson had nine rebounds to go with five points and a blocked shot. Bush had five points and three steals. Vinson had four rebounds and three points and Mannen had three steals, three assists and two points.

Biddington led Cascade with 15 points. St. Peter scored 13 and Wright added 10 for the Cougars.

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior guard Emily McLeod (left) drives around Cascade's Kelsey Molan.Saturday's state tournament contest marked the final high school game for Valley Catholic seniors McLeod, Bush, Vinson, Sannah Braun and McDevitt.

“This year was totally fun,” McDevitt said. “It was our first year in 4A, and we were a little nervous, but to be here is a good way to go out. And I'm really proud of the underclassmen.”

DAN BROOD - Valley Catholic senior Bailey McDevitt (52) hugs senior Maddie Vinson following Saturday's game at the Class 4A state tournament.Other members of the Valley Catholic team include sophomore Mady Moore, sophomore Kate Nguyen, sophomore Mattie Thurman, junior Rachel Jones, junior Rachel Justice and sophomore Petra Flemmer.

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