Valley makes three strong comebacks in non-league loss

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic freshman Callie Kawaguchi had four steals and a handful of fast break baskets in the Valiants loss to Portland Adventist last week.

Losing isn't always necessarily a bad thing.

It builds backbone and exposes weaknesses that can be polished and dealt with — particularly in the preseason when games don't have as much bearing on a team's seasonal outlook.

Riding high after winning its first six games by at least 16 points and rising to the top of the Class 4A power rankings the Valley Catholic girls basketball team took one on the chin on Dec. 23, losing to 3A Portland Adventist Academy 57-50 at home.

Dropping a game to a lower classified foe usually isn't means for conviction. But, when you consider Valley battled back from three large deficits and fought through bouts of adversity versus one of 3A's state title contenders all the while playing its second game in two days, there was good reason for optimism.

“We need to learn from this loss,” said Valley Catholic senior post Molly Danielson. “I think it's actually a good thing. We're going to play some great opponents like Cascade and we want to bring it to them in the future.”

“We have to stay in the game even when we're down,” said Valley Catholic freshman Callie Kawaguchi. “The past games we haven't been down, so this loss was good. We know how to keep playing when we're down and comeback.”

The Valiants (6-1), at last, were put through the paces and for the most part departed for the holidays with assurance about the remainder of the non-league slate and upcoming Cowapa League schedule.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic sophomore Petra Flemmer drives to the basket in the first half of the Valiants loss to Portland Adventist on Dec. 23.

Portland Adventist went on two momentum-swing runs, the first being a 10-point binge that began toward the end of the first quarter and spanned into the second quarter, giving the Cougars a 14-6

advantage. However, Valley volleyed back with four points apiece from Danielson and Joanna Duyck, all of which came in the paint and pulled the Valiants even with their former 3A foe at 14-14. The

Cougars countered with another 7-0 spurt that was broke up when Jessi Beyer buried a three from the left wing to come within 23-17.

Normally a team that relies on a widespread 2-3 zone, Valley revealed a new wrinkle with its man-to-man defense, which helped contain the Cougar guards and coaxed a horde of forced and unforced turnovers throughout. And players such as Kawaguchi, Mady Moore and Kate Nguyen seemed to thrive in the rugged defensive style.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic's Matti Thurman readies to fire a three-point shot versus Portland Adventist.

“Playing man really brought out a new defensive side in every player,” said Kawaguchi. “Our energy was as good as it could be with back-to-back games.”

In the third quarter Danielson scored five straight at one point and Kawaguchi made a couple of tough

baskets in transition to keep Valley within closing range. Addie Flemmer hit the game-tying jumper, to make it 37-37 with two minutes left in the third, then neither team took the lead the rest of the third


It was three quarters of swings and sea changes as neither squad could fully put the other away. With the game's momentum clearly up for grabs, it felt the team who simply knock down the looks bestowed to their shooters could go into the Holiday Break on a winning high.

That squad turned out to be the hot-shooting Cougars as Portland Adventist scored the first two hoops of the quarter to regain a 41-37 lead with 6:51, then Valley Catholic head coach John Innes was called for a technical for standing up for his players with 6:10 to go and the Cougars compounded the tech with another hoop to extend their lead to 45-37.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic sophomore Noelle Mannen drives and dishes to a teammate against Portland Adventist.

“We played as well as we could, they just some good shots that went it,” said Kawaguchi. “We could've battled back if we had enough time, we just ran out of it.”

Sophomore point guard Grace Mannen swished a three from the angle after Danielson calmly assessed the Cougar double team and scooped a pass to her sophomore point guard who cut the Cougars' lead to

50-46 with 3:31 left.

“That game wasn't over at all,” said Danielson. “We fought through it. We didn't get the call, but we kept attacking the rim. It was never over.”

Yet, the Cougars hit another jumper to go up 52-46 and then made two free throws at the free throw line to extend the lead to 54-46 with 90 seconds left in the fourth. From there, Danielson made a layup

and the Cougars cashed in four more free throws to finish off the Valiants.

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