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Sixta scores 11 points, Block adds 10 as Crusaders clash long into fourth quarter

PMG MEDIA PHOTO: DEREK WILEY -  Jesuits Kendall Kirkland, No. 24, and Taylor Freeman, No. 22, box out Canby senior Nicole Mickelson.

On a night when shots just would not fall, Canby relied on its defense to advance to the second round of the Class 6A girls basketball playoffs.

Holding No. 20 Jesuit to four points in the third quarter, the No. 13 Cougars won 43-36 Tuesday.

"It wasn't our best defensive game, but it was very good," Canby coach Chuck Knight said. "That's probably what did it because we missed several wide open lay-ins. We probably left some points out there, but that's why you play good defense. You're not always going to hit shots. You've got to play defense to overcome that sometimes."

The Cougars trailed 12-6 late in the first quarter, as Jesuit came out hot from 3-point range with Taylor Freeman, Emma Sixta and Molly Block all hitting shots from behind the arc.

But a 3-point play by Canby senior point guard Naarai Gomez, followed by two free throws by freshman guard Allie Mead gave the Cougars its first lead, 15-14, midway through the second period.

A field goal by senior forward Nicole Mickelson and 3-pointer from senior guard Arika Evans stretched the Cougars advantage to 20-14, and they never trailed again.

"They had me pretty well guarded with No. 11 (Jesuit senior Kailynn Tuck), so it came down to other people making plays and doing stuff," said Mickelson, who led Canby with 14 points. "It was a team effort. Our main concern was getting to the basket. I wasn't getting it a lot so I wanted to make the most of every play."

Up 31-27 early in the fourth quarter, the Cougars went on a 7-0 run to take its biggest lead of the night, 38-27, with 6:27 remaining.

Canby then played keep away for much of the final period and went 5-for-9 from the free throw line to finish off Jesuit.

Mead finished with eight points. Gomez and Ally Odell each added six points.

"We just dug in," Odell said. "We started playing together instead of as individuals."

Sixta scored 11 points to lead Jesuit. Block added 10 points.

After just missing the playoffs last year, Canby advanced to the second round for the fourth time in the last five seasons.

The Cougars play at No. 4 Liberty in Hillsboro on Friday.

The Falcons defeated Westview 68-42 Tuesday.

Canby last advanced to the elite eight in 2016, when the Cougars placed fifth at the Chiles Center.

Jesuit was a state quarterfinal team a year ago, but graduated eight seniors.

"We looked young tonight and they looked like seniors," Jesuit coach Jason Lowery said. "They just made the plays that they needed to. I wish we could have gone a little bit further, but the season is about getting better and where we are now compared to where we were in December is night and day. We can't complain too much.

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