Beaverton girls basketball blitzes Southridge, wins Metro titles
The best part about Beaverton's third-quarter blitzkrieg wasn't that it transpired against long-time tormentor Southridge or even that it clinched a Metro League title outright for the first time since 2002.
When the Beavers blew The Cage's doors down with a 21-6 run to open up a 51-26 lead to all but salt away Southridge, everybody got involved. Laura Erikstrup ate inside and made sure her teammates were fed when the Skyhawks doubled her. Sydney Erikstrup was everywhere on both ends of the floor. Mary Kay Naro attacked the rim at will and smothered Southridge's ballhandlers. Alexa Borter and Jordyn Reverman buried outside shots and locked it up defensively. The bench was on total tilt celebrating every score at full throat.
The wealth was spread to every Beaver. Every key contributor had a hand. That's how it's always been at Beaverton under head coach Kathy Naro. Nobody is above the name on the front of the jersey. Everybody buys into the bigger picture. Ball movement is gospel. Unselfishness is the staple. By the time the fourth quarter rolled around, Beaverton's 25-point cushion allowed the Beavers to protect the basketball and salt away the 57-31 victory to claim Metro outright, wresting away the crown from the three-time conference champion Skyhawks at Southridge High School on Friday night.
"It was a great feeling not only that we were pulling away, but that we were doing it together," Reverman said. "Everyone was a part of it. We played together and played as ourselves."
"The biggest feeling I had was joy," Borter said with a smile. "Everyone had it and that made it really special. With us, we've all been together for so long. We play together as a team, win as a team and lose as a team."
Southridge has had the Beavers' number the past three seasons. Before Naro took the Beaverton job, bringing her talented trio of daughters with her, before the Erikstrups transferred from Lake Oswego, Reverman and Isabelle Potts vividly remember getting boat raced by a Skyhawk team that was loaded to the teeth with Division One talent. Even the past two years, Beaverton couldn't get within double digits of the Skyhawks, succumbing to cold shooting nights and mountains of self-inflicted turnovers. But this season, with Southridge still stout, the tables have turned in Beaverton's favor. Look no further than Friday. Of Beaverton's 20 victories, this might have been the most impressive to date. The third period is particular was a master class in offensive execution. There was nothing passive about how Beaverton attacked Southridge's notoriously tough 2-3 zone. They entered the ball into the high post and found divers going to the rim, attacked off the dribble, drew two defenders and located open shooters. Whoever had the ball either attacked instantly or moved it on to the next open player without hesitation. Off the ball, the Beavers flashed to the elbows for feeds, battled for post position on the blocks, relocated along the perimeter for skip passes. On one particular play, Beaverton passed inside to Laura Erikstrup who kicked the ball to Mary Kay Naro, who whipped a chest pass to Reverman all alone in the left corner for three to make it 38-24. The ball simply never stopped shuttling from player to player. Both Borter and Sydney Erikstrup added triples of their own in the third. The Beavers gave up good shots for great shots, turned down open looks for wide open, gaze-at-the-rim and fire at ease attempts.
"We're all friends and we're all sisters, literally and figuratively," Reverman said with a smile. "We've all played together, so we know each other's strengths and we trust each other to take good shots."
"We know we're good enough to beat this team and if we did what needed to do, we could win," Borter said.
Laura Erikstrup was exceptional, scoring 16 of her game-high 18 points in the first half. Be it on the offensive glass, at the free throw line or beating the Skyhawks off the bounce, the future University of San Diego Don dominated, which loosened the floor for others.
"It's really helpful having Laura inside because she's such a great post and all (of the defense) comes to her," Borter said. "That opens everything else up for everyone outside. And when we start hitting shots on the outside, we can go back to Laura. We utilize everyone to break the zone."
Beaverton outscored the Hawks 21-6 in the third and cashed in on five of its first six possessions, four of which were assisted. The Beavers went for the knockout blow to begin the third and connected in the first four minutes of the period, always a critical juncture of the game.
"Whenever we come out of the locker room at halftime, we say 'The third quarter is our quarter,'" Reverman said. "Since we played against (the zone) for a long time, we've started to discover the weaknesses. We tried to get the ball in the middle and by getting it in the middle, we could find the open shot."
Not only did Beaverton shoot the ball well, but its intensity on the offensive glass, crashing the boards in the open crevices of the zone, was far better than it's been over the years against the rugged Skyhawk backline.
"We didn't meet their physicality," Southridge head coach Michael Bergmann said. "They played more physical than we did getting loose balls, rebounds. They killed us on the boards. And they're too good of a team for that. It'd be one thing if they were just a physical team, but they can do everything. If they beat you in that area (physicality), you're going to be in big trouble."
The first half was a fistfight between two longtime counterparts. Southridge took advantage of Beaverton's switching man to man defensive schemes and was able to exploit mismatches off the dribble. McKelle Meek was great as always, willing herself to the rim, finishing high degree of difficulty layups, scoring 12 first half points. Maya Hoff made plays for herself and others off the bounce. Tait Quinlan set bone-crushing screens away from the ball to free up her teammates. But the Erikstrup twins were too tough, athletic and dexterous to contain. Shooting from deep, attacking off the catch, setting up shots for their teammates or getting their own offense, the sisters impacted the game in every way imaginable.
Beaverton spoiled Southridge's senior night and took the Metro title trophy with them. But all is not lost for the Skyhawks. They've been to the past three Class 6A state championship games, winning two of them. As the ninth seed in the 6A bracket, Southridge will have to go through the top-ranked Beavers again to have any hope of another title game appearance. That's after getting through Lakeridge at home on Tuesday and a possible second round road tilt with eighth-ranked Tualatin on the road next week. The key, Bergmann said, is not letting the latest Beaverton loss linger. Everything Southridge wants is still out in front to chase.
"These girls are so good and so tough, I'm still hopeful," Bergmann said of his team. "You're going to have a bad game now and then. It's better (to have it) now than in the playoffs. I've been with these girls since they were in the fourth grade. I don't want this to end. They don't want this to end. We don't want to look too far ahead because the team we're playing in the first round will be good. We just have to take it one game at a time."
Naro finished the game 15 points and Sydney Erikstrup added 14. Meek led Southridge with 16 points. Top-seeded Beaverton hosts No. 32 Glencoe at home on Tuesday. No. 9 Southridge host No. 24 Lakeridge in the first round of the 6A playoffs.
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