Beaverton girls basketball gets by Brink, Mountainside
Beaverton isn't interested in the business of bucking proverbial monkeys off its back.
Narratives of revenge romps through the Metro League and payback to the state as a whole are paid no heed, at least publicly. The past is the past. Though the Beavers went winless against Cameron Brink and Southridge over the last two years, hard lessons were learned, experience was stowed away, bonds were deepened. Laura and Sydney Erikstrup are better off this year from getting blanked and blocked by Brink just like Mary Kay Naro and Jordyn Reverman are stronger from getting bumped and bruised by Benson.
They're not driven by retribution, even with a team that's stacked enough to extract justice. Beaverton wants to be the best version of itself by the time March rolls around. The Beavers long-term goals are bigger than worrying about their backstory. Every regular season game is the next step in achieving the ultimate ambition. But surely, Beaverton can't be so above settling a score or two.
Driven from the jump, Beaverton roared to a 15-6 first quarter lead over Brink and her new home Mountainside, then withstood the inevitable second half Brink wave of incredible shotmaking and playmaking to win its Metro opener 55-49 at Mountainside High on Tuesday.
"This season is more about focusing on us and what we're doing," Naro said. "It doesn't matter who the other team is. We have to execute what we want to do. I thought we did a great job of that tonight, which is why we were able to be calm in pressure situations and pull out the win."
Mountainside came away reassured and rightfully so. Beaverton threw a first quarter haymaker at the young Mavericks, making seven of eight field goals including its first five, scoring nine points off of seven takeaways all the while playing with a different kind of furor than ever before against Brink. The Erikstrups were out for blood. Naro went right at the Maverick backcourt, knifing the lane with the rock, hounding the greenhorns will dynamic ball pressure.
"It makes everyone a little more confident," Naro said. "If shots are going in, we're playing hard and it just gets the rhythm going."
When Beaverton played Mountainside at the PIL Holiday Classic, a game the Beavers won, shots were rushed, turnovers mounted. The Beavers wanted to settle their offense down while speeding the young, sophomore-heavy Mavericks up on defense. That way, Naro said, Beaverton could take Mountainside out of its half-court attack and prevent Brink from enforcing her will early.
"We knew we could up fake, get people in the air and get easy shots and we did just that," Naro said. "And we wanted to pressure the ball on defense. Cameron is a great player, but if we keep it from getting into her hands, then it plays more into what we want to do."
But the Mavericks didn't stoop. Brink, double-teamed any time she caught the ball in the post, doled out two second quarter dimes and converted a steal into a score to bring Mountainside within 22-14 at the half.
In the third quarter, the shots started to fall from everywhere. Carly Stone splashed a step-back three and crushed a left corner triple off a sweet spin and kickout from Brink. Taylor Smith sank a three from the left wing after Brink absorbed a double team and flicked the ball out to the sophomore's shooting pocket for the cash-in. All of sudden, Mountainside trailed just 31-29.
"We snapped out of it and realized we were totally in that game," Smith said. "We have to start the game calmly and not be all crazy rushed and throwing up the first shot we see. This is our year to learn and grow. This rematch was exciting and we're already ready for the next time we see them."
For a team that's played just 13 games together, such a mounted comeback spoke to the Mavericks' mettle. Mountainside was flattened by the gravity of the moment early, but got up, found itself and started playing calmly and collectively.
"Beaverton is a great team, a great program with great girls, but I'm proud of us," Smith said. "We left our hearts out there. We wanted it really bad. We know how good they are. We're younger than them and we just wanted to play our hardest."
And while the Mavericks found their mojo, Beaverton didn't blink. Senior wing Jordyn Reverman scored eight of her 12 points in the third, including a huge right corner three off a Nar drive-and-kick just before the quarter buzzer to extend Beaverton's lead to 35-29 at the end of three. Reverman, the unsung hero of these talented Beaver teams over the last three years, stepped up big with the Erikstrups battling foul trouble all night.
"She always does the little things," Naro said of Reverman. "Sometimes that doesn't always get the credit, but she gets rebounds, she plays good defense, she makes good passes. And tonight, she knocked down shots. She was confident, put her legs into her shot and played great. She was one of the main reasons why we were able to keep the momentum going."
Brink put on a show in the fourth quarter, burying step back threes, throwing jab steps at Beaverton's posts only to rise and bury triples from the top of the key. The Stanford commit scored 14 fourth quarter points and dished out three assists, all of the highlight-reel variety.
"Cameron makes these plays that you wouldn't think are possible to make," Smith said. "She has those crazy kick outs and can make crazy layups, too. It's really positive playing with her. She brings a lot of energy and experience from her past. It's an honor playing with her, honestly."
Brink's second three brought Mountainside within 48-44 with 1:04 to go. The 6A Player of the Year showed off her quickly evolving perimeter game while still asserting her defensive and rebounding dominance en route to 28 points (12 of 17 shooting), 12 boards and 8 assists. The key to victory, especially early on, Naro said, was preventing Brink from touching the ball every trip down the floor, to force the younger Mavericks to swim in the deep end of the pool, if you will. Beaverton never trailed in the game, buoyed by that big start and savvy game plan.
"Cameron was unstoppable in the fourth quarter and she made some amazing shots," Naro said. "We did a really good job of making their other players make plays. They're all really, really good. But with our pressure and length, we were able to cause some turnovers and make it hard for her to get the ball. They're going to make shots and plays but we made it as tough as we could."
Playing catchup for most of the fourth quarter, with Beaverton protecting the basketball at all costs forced the Mavericks to extend the game and send the Beavers to the foul line. Naro, who oftentimes was able to use her speed and get to the basketball on Beaverton's inbounds plays, made 12 of 14 free throws in the fourth. She ended the game with 21 points, 13 of which came at the charity stripe. Sydney Erikstrup finished with 10 points. Lindsey Wilson had 9 for Mountainside.
It was a big win, of course, especially if Beaverton hopes to capture Metro. Mountainside and Southridge are the two biggest threats to the Beavers' league and state title hopes. But Beaverton didn't make the game any bigger than maybe others on the outside did. They were excited to play in front of a big crowd, against an up-and-coming Maverick team, versus one the best players in the United States in Brink. It wasn't a benchmark or even a signature win, but a barometer for where Beaverton is this early in the season. So far, the Beavers look every bit the part of the top team in the state with room for growth.
"As long as we do what we do, we'll be fine," Naro said. "We just have to have that kind of confidence and mentality coming into games, which hopefully we will the rest of the season."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.