Mackenzie Naro catches fire, Beaverton girls hoops rolls to win
On any given night, against any level of foe, the Beaverton girls basketball team has a breadth of weapons that goes eight to nine players deep.
Any one of those rotation pieces can go off at a moment's notice and shoulder the brunt of the Beavers' scoring load for as long as necessary. And Beaverton's egalitarian, openhanded offensive approach encourages the Beavers to find the hot hand and keep feeding her until the well runs dry.
In their league road opener against Sunset, in a gym she's no stranger to, Beaverton sophomore guard Mackenzie Naro detonated, drilling seven three pointers in the first half to help open up a 41-19 halftime lead. And in the fourth, Naro made one more for good measure as Beaverton's lead expanded into the 30-point range, bringing her total to eight treys and 26 points in all for an 81-42 win at Sunset High School on Jan. 11.
"There are some games where you don't hit as many and it just felt good to hit shots and play well," Mackenzie Naro said. "I thought it was great team basketball. We all hit shots, made good passes and looked for each other. We came out with good energy."
Naro was unconscious in the second quarter, burying four straight triples at one point and five of six attempts. The sophomore sharpshooter slid around the outskirts of Sunset's 1-2-2 zone, making herself available, hands out, ready to hop into bombs from well behind the three-point stripe that were cash from the moment they left Naro's scalding right hand. Her teammates kept seeking out Naro on the perimeter, riding a heater that never cashed out.
"That's what I love about this team, whoever is 'on' we get them the ball and tonight Mackenzie took care of us," Mary Kay Naro said with a smile. "It's all about the team and when one person does well, the entire team does well."
At every timeout, every quarter break, Sydney and Laura Erikstrup, Mary Kay Naro and the rest of the Beaver bench, mobbed their smoldering sniper, enjoying the wave just as much as their smiling marksman who ran an off a down pick, fanned to the left wing and flicked another backspinning rainbow that splashed through the net to send Beaverton into the half with a 41-19 lead at the half.
"When I started seeing (the threes) go in, I wanted to take a couple more and feel it out," Naro said. "Last year I shot well here too. I just feel good in this gym. I started getting good passes and was pretty much open for most of them. I got good looks and just hit them."
The Metro League sports a wide-ranging scope of snipers from Westview's Nicole Flennaugh to Jesuit's Savannah Corradini to Southridge's McKelle Meek. But arguably no shooter is as valuable or important to her team as Mackenzie Naro. With off-the-dribble creators in Mary Kay Naro, Jordyn Reverman and the Erikstrup twins, planting a dead-eye such as Mackenzie Naro on the hardwood not only gives the floor balance, but it opens lanes for her teammates to attack. Her presence on the floor attracts the opposing defense to whichever wing or corner she's on, just as the Erikstrups' penchant for getting to the tin creates three-point looks for Naro. No one player can swing a season, obviously. Mary Kay Naro, the Erikstrups and Alexa Borter can all get cooking in a hurry and pile up points. But if Mackenzie Naro is rolling from deep, Beaverton undeniably takes on another dimension.
Beaverton just enjoyed one of the best seasons in school history, taking second in Metro, winning 23 games and reaching the Class 6A semifinals. It was a turnaround spurred by the coaching acumen of Kathy Naro and an influx of talent highlighted by the Naros and Erikstrups transferring into BHS. But in the 6A semis at the Chiles Center, a winnable game against Benson slipped away. Little things like boxing out, making the extra pass and hitting free throws in the clutch came back to bite the Beavers as a double-digit lead dissolved and ultimately cost Beaverton a shot at Southridge in the 6A title. Yet, the bitterness from that grim result has galvanized the Beavers. Their attention to detail is sharper. Teamwork and trust, while always staples of Kathy Naro's program, have been harped on even more. At times in practice, Beaverton will pass the ball five times in a drill before somebody can shoot. Not that the Beavers needed their arms twisted into sharing the rock. This is a squad that celebrates each other's success, even if it's as small of a gesture as pointing to the person who passed you the ball after a made basket.
"If you get a good pass, you have to thank your teammate because they created it for you," Mary Kay Naro said. "Half of the point should go to them."
Playing together for Team Clutch in the summer helped Beaverton mature in Kathy Naro's offensive system, but there's nothing like a downtrodden defeat to pull a team closer together. The Beavers are better, battle-hardened and hell-bent on making it back to the Chiles Center for a shot at redemption.
"We bonded a lot more because that was a tough loss for us," Mackenzie Naro said. "We came together and set a goal for what we accomplish, but we know that's not going to happen right away. We decided we're going to play for each other and this team and see where we can go with it."
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