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The Spartans control the day with their defense, improve to 2-0 in NWOC action.

PMG PHOTO: MILES VANCE - Hillsboro senior Margaret Shively drives against Milwaukie freshman Brooklynn Irwin during the Spartans' 32-20 win at Hillsboro High School on Thursday, Jan. 13.The Hillsboro girls basketball team was ready.

Milwaukie's girls were unsteady.

It was a great combination for the Spartans and a deadly one for the Mustangs, with Hillsboro starting fast, controlling the game through three quarters and rolling home to win 32-20 over shorthanded Milwaukie at Hillsboro High School on Thursday, Jan. 13.

"I think we had really good communication this game," said Hillsboro senior guard Margaret Shively, who finished with nine points, eight rebounds, four assists and three steals. "When we communicated with each other, we listened, and we followed through, and I think that was a big part of how we connected well tonight on the court."

"We've been working on communication and being a team, so we really wanted to work on that today and start off league really good," said senior guard/forward Isabel Tapley, who added 10 points, five rebounds, one assist and one steal.

With the win — the team's fourth straight — Hillsboro improved to 2-0 in Northwest Oregon Conference play and 7-2 overall. Milwaukie — which played without two starters, played with two others hurt and a third who just returned from injury and COVID — lost for the fifth straight time and fell to 0-2 in NWOC play and 5-6 overall.

"I'm hurting, Cali (Denson) is hurting, we're missing two starters and one of our other starters just came back … so we're down," said Milwaukie senior wing Brynn Manselle, who finished with seven points, six rebounds, one assist and one steal. "Missing a lot of people is always a challenge."

"I feel pretty good, but I'm lacking energy right now and wind so I was slow on defense and slow getting back down to court and stuff," added senior wing Ella Hill, who led her team with 10 points, along with two rebounds and one steal, "but I feel like I can get there really soon."

While Milwaukie struggled with its shooting from the get-go — the Mustangs went just 1 of 13 from the field in the opening quarter (their only field goal a Hill 3-pointer) — Hillsboro got five points from Tapley (including a "three") and another 3-pointer by senior forward Kaleah Webb to grab a 12-4 lead at the end of the period.

The Spartans kept the defensive pressure on the Mustangs and their foot on the accelerator at the start of the second stanza, scoring nine straight points to led 21-4 when Webb took a Tapley inbound pass and connected with 4 minutes, 12 seconds left in the half.

Milwaukie ended the half with a 6-2 run that cut its deficit to 23-10 at the break, a stretch that included four Hill points (including a "three") and an inside hoop by Mansell.

Any hopes of a Milwaukie comeback, however, were dashed in a disastrous, scoreless third quarter. While Hillsboro's offense didn't exactly light it up in the period — the Spartans scored just six points in the frame (including by a Shively "three") — the Spartans' defense did all that it needed to put the game on ice.

In that decisive third quarter, Milwaukie went 0 of 8 from the field, 0 of 2 from the foul line, committed eight turnovers and fell behind 29-10.

As bad as all that had been, the Mustangs weren't quite done. In the fourth quarter, junior post Aubrey Miller took a Mansell pass and scored on the break and Mansell buried a pair of "threes," the second of those bringing her team within 29-17 with 3:49 left in the game. But when Mansell missed another 3-point attempt on the Mustangs' next possession, Milwaukie's comeback hopes were done.

Shively said that her team's success defending Denson — the Mustangs' leading scorer and team leader — was key to the night's result. Denson, struggling with injury, failed to score Thursday and finished with zero points, two rebounds, four assists and five steals.

"The game plan going in was to guard Cali and have her be our first priority," Shively said. "We still thought about the whole team because there's five players on the court, but Cali was our first priority."

"Our shots just weren't falling today," Mansell said. "We are young and we are missing a lot of people, but we're excited for the next time we see them at home."

Hillsboro's Sophia Ransom added six points and two steals in the win, while Webb added two points, 11 rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal. Miller had three points, five rebounds one block and one steal in the loss.

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