Indians to take on no. 2-ranked Hidden Valley in first round away matchup this Friday

Molalla's girls' basketball team has again advanced to the Class 4A playoffs after a 53-29 win over Astoria on senior night last week.

After the Corbett game scheduled for Feb. 20 was cancelled multiple times due to inclement weather, the Indians played their already locked-in play-in game last Friday for their chance to make the playoffs. Things were made even sweeter for Molalla as the game doubled as senior night, honoring the four seniors on the squad: Alicia Schultz, Sierra Cox, Hailey Holas, and Bryana Brinkman.

Cox said despite it being senior night, she came into the game the same as she would any other.

"I was really feeling the same as any other game," Cox said. "It felt a little more special because all my teammates got us stuff and it got a little sentimental, but I played with my team just like we normally would."

"After the game, it felt good because I am able to be with these girls longer," Cox said. "We all went in knowing it was going to be a tough match, but our coach prepared us and we came out fired up and ready to give it our all, and we did. Our energy is what gave us that extra push that we needed."

Though they came away with a massive 24-point win, the Indians didn't start out as hot as they finished as the score was tied 6-6 at the end of the first quarter. But their defense kept them in it and ultimately allowed them to pull away offensively as the game progressed.

"The girls played a great game with everybody contributing," head coach Phil Wiesner said. "They played very good defense and were able to cash in at the offensive end."

"Astoria is a good team, but they were a bit shell-shocked and that is a tribute to our team when you can make a good team look that way."

Astoria had a significant height advantage inside, but the Indians were able to handle it well enough to hold them off, particularly from Schultz's play as she continued to show why she's one of the best players in the state.

"I went into it knowing it would be my last game played on our home floor, so it was kind of bittersweet," Schultz said. "But because it was a state play-in game I didn't really have a lot of time to focus on that; I knew I didn't want it to end that night and we needed to come out strong and work as a team, and that's what we did."

"We had big contributions from everyone; Bryana and Hailey had big three-pointers, Sierra was instrumental in getting [Astoria] into foul trouble early on, Zoe (Wood) was hitting, Kaiytn (Curry) was working for boards against their bigs," Schultz said.

"The crowd was great too, it was nice having everyone who has supported us for years in the stands," Schultz said. "After the game I was just so proud of how well we all played as a team. For Hidden Valley, I think we just need to stay focused and play at the level we're all capable of."

The Indians will take on no. 2-ranked Hidden Valley in the first round in an away matchup this Friday, and Wiesner said they have at least one advantage heading into the game: experience.

"They are a very good team and will present some challenges, but one advantage we do have is a handful of players that have good playoff experience, and they don't," Wiesner said. "Sometimes that can be a great benefit, especially if it's a relatively close game."

"We'd love to break through that wall and get ourselves to the final site and just see what happens after that," he said.

The first-round playoff matchup is this Friday at 6 p.m. at Hidden Valley High School. If the Indians win, they'll take on the winner of the North Marion-Junction City game in the quarterfinal round at Pacific University on March 8.

Conner Williams
Sports Reporter/News Contributor
503-829-2301 ext. 341
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