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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Rangers find themselves within three points late in the first half

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Estacadas Makaelyn Jennings drives into the lane during Fridays 61-39 loss at Molalla.

Tri-Valley Conference

Team Score

After a pair of setbacks, Molalla got back on the right track Friday against Estacada. The Indians used a second-half press to come away with a 61-39 Tri-Valley Conference victory.

"Putting on presses really gets us energized," Molalla junior Hannah Nelzen said. "It really gets us all fired up and ready to play. It feels good to get a win, finally, and I think we're going to step it up."

The Rangers entered the game 1-18 and looking for their first league win. Estacada was within three points at 11-8 after the first quarter. 

"I think we were just ready to play them like we did last time (a 65-33 Molalla win), but they kind of caught on to what we were doing," Nelzen said.

Estacada stayed close for much of the second quarter, as well. Two free throws by Amber Liber kept the Rangers within 19-16 with 3:18 remaining. 

"We've really been pushing ourselves in practice, and coming to the end of the season just trying to push through," Estacada coach Taya Hartless said. "I was really proud of the way we played and hanging with them in that first half."

Molalla began to distance itself late in the second period. The Indians closed the first half on a 12-5 run to take a 10-point lead into halftime.

The Rangers were called for 16 fouls in the first half as Molalla went 9-for-19 from the free throw line. 

"We wanted to be aggressive to the hoop, and get to the foul line," Molalla coach Phil Wiesner said. "We followed our game plan pretty close, which was good because that's something we've ventured away from in the past game or so."

PMG PHOTO: DEREK WILEY - Estacadas Rylie Canifax moves toward a Molalla double team in the lane.

Increasing their defensive pressure, the Indians outscored Estacada 21-6 in the third quarter to fully take control of the game.

"We just felt like we were a little sluggish and players wanted to do it and I was fine with it," Wiesner said of the press. "I thought the girls executed well and did a good job on it and it made a difference there."

Molalla junior Kaityn Cutty finished with 14 points to lead the Indians.

The Indians were missing starting guard Amy Wills, who was sick all week. 

Estacada junior Hannah Crandell had 12 points. Katilyn Hawkins and Liber chipped in with eight and seven points, respectively.

"We don't have a very big bench," Hartless said. "We're battling a lot of injuries. I think we're really fighting with what we have and playing hard, but they're (Molalla) a good team."

This story is scheduled for our Feb. 20, print edition.

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