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Beavers take down Skyhawks for the first time as a senior-led group, stay undefeated in Metro

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior Sydney Erikstrup celebrates a big and-one against Southridge on Tuesday.

By physical force — because really there was no other way to thwart a vaunted Southridge squad that vexed them the past two years —Beaverton got its due and, in the process, possibly made a bold and audacious claim.

Driven by a tyrannical man-to-man defense and non-stop transition game, the Beavers roared out to a 28-14 halftime lead and never wavered en route to beating the Skyhawks 55-44 on Tuesday night at Beaverton High School. For Mary Kay Naro, Laura and Sydney Erikstrup, Jordyn Reverman and the cast of Beaver characters who clashed with Southridge over the last two years but never beat the Skyhawks, this was cleansing. Southridge had Beaverton's number the past two seasons, winning all five of its head-to-head matchups by an average of 18 points per contest including a sobering 46-30 defeat in the 6A semis last March. But this Beaver group, seasoned, battle-hardened, enhanced and elevated, has a much different feel.

"Beaverton is the best team in the state in my mind," Southridge head coach Michael Bergmann said. "And what I thought coming in was true. They don't have any holes and they run their stuff and play so well as a team. They know each other and they're really aggressive. They understand each other so well. They have so many shooters and they're deeper than they've been in the past."

To buck Southridge, Beaverton needed to be the tougher team. They had to stay together. They had to take the fight to a Skyhawk squad that swarmed them and shackled them both during the regular season and in the Class 6A playoffs. Southridge wasn't going to let Beaverton off easy and battled to the bitter end. But ultimately, Beaverton exorcised a demon or two and buried the past.

The Beavers, as has been the case all season, threw the first blow in the Metro League heavyweight matchup, jumping out to an 8-0 lead just two minutes into the game. Beaverton scored four of their first quarter field goals on takeaways with Sydney Erikstrup, Naro and Borter all finishing on the fast break to give their unit an early 12-7 lead.

"This year we have a different mindset, we want to be the aggressors," Erikstrup said. "We want to be the spark from the beginning. It's getting them on their heels and showing them who we are as a team."

"We wanted to take it at them and see what happens," Naro said.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior Alex Borter chases down a loose ball in the open floor against Southridge.

The Skyhawks' 2-3 zone, Beaverton's Achilles' heel in the past, is sticky and strangling at times. But Beaverton beat Southridge to the punch by turning its defense into offense before the Skyhawks could set up shop in the half court. They got out into transition and surprised Southridge with team speed and superb open floor finishing.

"I think we're as fast as they are, but we weren't in the right mindset and that's part of playing against a really good team," Bergmann said. "You have to be ready to play at that speed."

The Erikstrup twins scored Beaverton's first 11 points of the second quarter as the Beavs went on an 11-2 run to lead by as much as 14. Southridge senior McKelle Meek's been magic all year and she dazzled at times in the first half with her shotmaking ability en route to 11 first half points. But Southridge's first non-Meek field goal didn't hit the scorebook until there was 2:42 to go in the second quarter when Kaylen Blair knocked down a three from deep.

"We wanted to make them take tough shots because we knew they were going to score," Naro said. "We just needed to let that roll off and continue to make them take as tough of shots as possible, make them miss, rebound and go."

Beaverton's defense was deadly. The Bears switched Southridge's dribble handoffs, stoned isolations, made Meek work by rotating fresh, different defenders on her: Naro, Reverman, Sydney Erikstrup and freshman Madison Naro at times. Mary Kay Naro drew the primary defensive responsibility against Meek and tried to take away her strengths, specifically off the dribble.

"(Mary Kay Naro) is the best defender in the state," Erikstrup said. "And Madi (Naro) stepped up, (Reverman) did an amazing job. Meek is a phenomenal player but the pressure (Naro) puts on (Meek) clearly bothers her."

"I think it's good to put different types of people on (Meek) because it plays with your mind a little bit," Naro said. "(Meek) is a great scorer, so why not try a couple of different things, see what works, try to bother her and make her take tough shots? We kept the defense solid."

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior Jordyn Reverman brings the basketball up the floor against Southridge.

Southridge never tapped out, as one would come to expect from a three-time state championship participant. Meek kept finding ways to put the ball in the basket as Beaverton tried to tighten the screws defensively. The point guard finished with a game-high 22 points. Kyla Vinson and Maya Hoff made outside jumpers. Hoff found Emoney Reid inside on a slick backdoor feed that brought Southridge within single digits at 45-37 with five minutes to go in the fourth.

"In the beginning of the game, we didn't look good, but I knew we had heart, so it was nice to see us fight back in the second half," Bergmann said.

But every time it felt like Southridge could make its final push and get over the hump, Beaverton responded. In the third quarter, Naro found Reverman on a back cut with a beautiful one-handed bounce pass, then the Boise State commit pierced the lane and shoveled a pass to Erikstrup for an and-one. On top of the passing, Naro got her offense going, banking home a floater and willing home an off-balance runner. Beaverton led by as much as 17 in the third. And down the stretch, as the Skyhawks drew near, Beaverton put the game away at the free throw line, making 12 of 16 in the fourth.

The Beavers weren't chanting and cheering and cutting down the nets after the game. They were excited, but chill. This game, this win, wasn't and isn't their cardinal goal. It wasn't circled on their calendars in red ink. Beaverton has a great maturity about itself. They're not bragging or boasting or pulling receipts on foes that knocked them in the past. The Beavers are going about their business as if they've won a state championship before, like this experience is routine. Not too high, not too low, just even-keeled and balanced emotionally, taking every win in stride and moving onto the next game minutes after the victory is conquered.

"That's a game we really wanted to win and we're really proud of what we've done, but we've got to keep it up," Naro said. "We have another big game on Friday (against Mountainside), so we just have to keep building on what we're doing. It's really fun and exciting."

Naro finished the game with seven points and six assists. Laura Erikstrup led the Beavers with 13 points while Borter added 11.

TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior point guard Mary Kay Naro tries to mirror Southridge point guard McKelle Meek.

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