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Beaverton girls basketball polishes off the rust, ready for second round clash with Sherwood

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton sophomore Sydney Erikstrup and the Beaver girls basketball team beat Cleveland on Tuesday.

No longer the spunky upstart startling the Class 6A classification with exceptional two-way play, Beaverton is now firmly in the select company.

In terms of teams that can tug at Southridge, Beaverton is one of the superlative few. The Beavers are the No. 3 team in the 6A playoff bracket, expected not just to advance past the first two rounds of the state playoffs but make a deep run in March that ends with a state title clash versus the defending champs.

The presumptive pressure might hamstring some teams, especially one as youthful as Beaverton. But the Beavers are primed, their best basketball is still ahead of them.

Shaking off the rust of a 12-day layoff following their regular season finale against Southridge, Beaverton began its 6A playoff journey with a meticulous 55-36 win over Cleveland in the first round on Tuesday at Beaverton High School.

"We want it so bad," Sydney Erikstrup said. "We know we have to work just as hard as any other team. Yeah, we spend a lot of time in the gym. And sometimes it might not be the most fun thing, but it's for a reason. We're trying to go somewhere big and do something big. We have the training, we've worked so hard for this all season. We're ready."

Beaverton (21-4 overall) takes on No. 19 Sherwood (13-12) in the second round of the postseason on Friday at Beaverton High School for the right to advance to the Chiles Center, the site of the 6A tourney. The Lady Bowmen beat Forest Grove in a 22-20 slugfest in which Sherwood led 6-2 at the half. For lack of a better term, Sherwood likes to take the air out of the ball, limiting their opponent's possessions, looking for the best possible shot, but only after patiently draining precious minutes off the clock. Beaverton pulled away from Sherwood in its season opener in a 44-32 win, but only after the Beavers were able to speed up the pace of the game and play their style of basketball. With no shot clock in Oregon High School basketball, it will be interesting to see which team can dictate the contest's cadence, the high-flying Beavers or the slow-playing Lady Bowmen.

"We'll play our game," Sydney Erikstrup said. "(Head coach) Kathy (Adelman) will have us ready and tell us what to do. I know we'll already start watching film tomorrow. Mainly we just have to come together, trust ourselves and do the little things."

As young as Beaverton is, there's a surprising amount of playoff experience on the roster. Sydney and Laura Erikstrup were starters for Lake Oswego a year ago when the Lakers reached the first round of the 2017 postseason. Ironically, they were bounced by Sunset and then freshman Mary Kay Naro, who is now the Beavers' starting point guard and the Erikstrups' trusted teammate. Naro played a key role on Sunset's state tournament-bound team that upset Tigard in the second round and placed at the Chiles Center. Plus, senior Cierra Speck was part of the last Beaverton team that made the state tournament three years ago. All four have encountered the heights and pitfalls that come with single elimination wars.

"The intensity in the playoffs is greater because if you lose, you're done," Sydney Erikstrup said. "Every team is fighting for a spot at the Chiles Center. Only eight teams go there. To think there were 32 teams competing tonight and now it's down to 16. We just have to think like it's just another game so that we don't get too worked up."

Buoyed by underclassmen stars, the Beavers already possess a clear understanding of what it takes to survive and advance.

"Any team can upset you on any given day. "(Adelman Naro) is preparing us for each game. We have full trust in the coaches. We know they know what they're doing. We just have to listen to them and trust each other as a team. We're family, so just have to play off of one another with lots of energy."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton sophomore Mary Kay Naro and the Beaver girls basketball team play Sherwood in the second round of the Class 6A playoffs on Tuesday.

After a feel-it-out first seven minutes or so of stabilizing themselves and shaking off the 12 days of rust, Beaverton returned to form against Cleveland. Sydney Erikstrup got a step inside and finished with her left hand and Mary Kay Naro drove and kicked a pass out to Mackenzie Naro for a right-wing three to end the first quarter with a 15-8 lead. And Beaverton poured on 10 more unanswered points to start the second quarter, ratcheting up its defense with half-court traps and full court pressure that activated the Beavers' team energy and enlivened the offense on the other side of the floor. A Warrior hoop with 3:26 left in the second quarter, was Cleveland's first points since late in the first. The 15-0 run that spanned two quarters was more of a Beaver reawakening after nearly two weeks away from game action, a reintroduction to facing somebody other than themselves on the practice floor.

"We came out and were a bit nervous with the first playoff game jitters, but we were able to get on the same page in a sense," Sydney Erikstrup said. "Our shooting wasn't nearly as good it could be. We had a lot of shots go in and out, but we were aggressive. They hit some shots that were a little bit wild, but on defense, we got the stops we needed to contain them."

Laura and Sydney Erikstrup were striking, combining for 33 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. The Beaver offense flowed through the twin sisters who posted up hard on both blocks, carved out position inside for paint catches or orbited to the midrange area and dropped in 15-foot jumpers. Mary Kay Naro, Jordyn Reverman and the rest of the Beaver guards made sure their forwards got plenty of touches around the key and hovered around the three-point line for downtown casts if the ball was kicked back out to them.

"We have full trust in MK," Sydney Erikstrup said. "All three of us play off each other. (Alexa Borter and Mackenzie Naro) can shoot the ball really well and we have the confidence to get them the ball. Everyone has gifts and we know how to utilize all of them."

Reverman started and starred in her role, supplying strong perimeter defense, accurate outside shooting, hustle on the offensive boards and canny entry post passes. The Erikstrup twins accounted for all of Beaverton's 14 third-quarter points either scoring or assisting as the Beavers ran up a 41-28 lead at the end of three. And Reverman continued to play well in the fourth, swatting away a Warrior jumper, making a jumper after a Sydney Erikstrup skip pass and later returning the favor with pilfer-and-dish to Sydney Erikstrup for two. Beaverton led by as much as 20 in the fourth.

Mary Kay Naro finished with eight points and Mackenzie Naro added five. Reverman had four and Borter had three.

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