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GIRLS BASKETBALL: South Salem answers the Bruins rush out of halftime to claim the 61-44 win

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Barlow guard Kennedie Shuler moves across the midcourt logo and past South Salem defender Hillary James during the Saxons 61-44 road win Tuesday night.

Nonleague game

Team Score
South Salem

The Barlow girls basketball team closed to within a point in the third quarter Tuesday night, but could not get over the hump in a 61-44 loss to South Salem.

After coming up with only two buckets in the second quarter, Barlow found itself down 11 to the defending Mountain Valley champs at halftime.

The Bruins found their shooting stroke coming out of the locker room with rookie guard Kennedie Shuler knocked down a series of 3s. She closed it to a one-possession game when she went to the floor to corral a loose ball along the sideline, then hit a long ball at the offensive end.

South Salem bombarded Barlow's 6-foot-4 center Libby Mathis throughout the game, crowding her with two or three defenders every time the ball went into the post.

That was the case on one third-quarter possession that saw Mathis touch the ball three times only to be forced to pass it back out to the perimeter. Finally, Barlow's Emory Miller took a pass down deep near the basket and drew a pair of defenders before deftly shifting a pass through the lane for Mathis. For one of the rare times in the game, she was left unhindered for a layup that brought the Bruins within 40-39 midway through the third quarter.

South Salem answered the challenge and returned its lead to 11 points early in the fourth quarter when guard Hilary James drove the lane and used a spin move to finish a layup.

PMG PHOTO: DAVID BALL - Barlows Melanie Hiu closes in on a fastbreak layup ahead of South Salems Gretchen Olsen.

Barlow made its final push when Shuler received an inbounds pass in front of a lunging defender, made two dribbles inside the arc and passed cross court to teammate Maicee Bradley, who drilled an open 3 to close the margin to 52-44 with five minutes to play.

That was as close as the Bruins would get.

South Salem put the game out of reach when Victoria Stafford took a pass on the block, took a bounce into the middle before spinning the other way and putting a shot off the glass for a 14-point lead with 2:09 left.

James drilled five 3-pointers and led all players with 24 points, while Shuler paced the Bruins with 18 points.

Shuler highlighted a fiercely competitive first quarter when she split a double team in the backcourt and going coast-to-coast for a layup.

The teams traded the lead eight times in the first quarter with Bradley hitting a 3-pointer in front of the Saxons' bench to give Barlow its final lead at 19-17.

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This story is slated for our Friday, Dec. 20, print edition.

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