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Valley Catholic proved a good early test for the Indians, who showed fight in Friday's win over Y-C

A stern test greeted the Molalla High girls basketball team as it opened its season Dec. 1. The Indians took on Valley Catholic, the third place team from the state tournament last season, and gave as good as they got before falling by a 49-42 count.

"We knew they'd be a solid team, but we should get our share of licks in this season also," coach Phil Wiesner said. "We have what should prove to be a strong schedule, playing many top programs from around the state, along with facing our own conference with several strong team s in it. The schedule should just make us stronger."

The Indians showed some first game jitters as the 2021-22 season got underway as they struggled with unforced turnovers early on.

COURTESY PHOTO: PHIL WIESNER - The Molalla High girls basketball team opened its season Dec. 1 with a road game at Valley Catholic, which they dropped by a 47-42 score.

Despite the nerves, Molalla was able to get out early and finish the first quarter with a 12-9 lead.

"After holding an eight-point lead at one time (in the second quarter), we settled on a 23-20 lead at halftime," Wiesner said. "The third quarter was not kind to us, getting blitzed 21-5 in the quarter. We didn't value our possessions well enough, which led to fast break easy baskets for them while our own defense dropped several notches from what it had been."

Molalla would fight back, though, with a renewed commitment to the defensive end and getting active on the boards, which slowed Valley Catholic down. While Molalla would get a few easy buckets itself in the final stanza, the closest they could get was six points.

"We had to resort to putting them on the line and Valley Catholic cashed in on just enough of those free throws to keep us at bay," Wiesner said.

COURTESY PHOTO: M. BROWNLEE - The Molalla High girls basketball team gets ready for the season opener at Valley Catholic.

Molalla outscored VC 14-8 in the final quarter to make it close.

Sophomore Kadenlee Greer, new to the varsity level, led the offensive effort with 13 points. Senior Teal Kluver came off the bench and chipped in 11 points and provided a spark with "great hustle and solid defense," Wiesner said.

The Indians host Sweet Home (Dec. 7), LaGrande (Dec. 10) and Baker (Dec. 11) for a busy second week of action.

Molalla 40, Yamhil-Carlton 36 It looked like it was going to be one of those nights, but the Molalla High girls hoopsters simply would not be denied, battling through adversity for a 40-36 win over Yamhill-Carlton on Dec. 5. "On a night where not much of anything seemed to be going right, the girls really showed their heart in the end," Wiesner said. "We got down by 11 in the first half but were able to chip away a bit until we were only down one at halftime.  We just couldn't seem to get our focus, which led to too many turnovers giving the Tigers extra possessions." In the third quarter, the issues continued and YC was able to stretch its lead to nine points before the Indians came to life. Turning up the defensive pressure, the Indians mounted their comeback. "We were able to put more defensive pressure on YC towards the end of the third and carry that on through the rest of the game," Wiesner said. "We played the last six-plus minutes of the game without any turnovers and communicating well out on the floor." And the results showed how effective that can by. Molalla dominated the last quarter by an 11-2 count to snag the first win of the season. "The season is a journey and we're figuring out our way as we go along, the players and coaches are working hard to smooth out the rough spots in the road," Wiesner said.

Senior Rubie Burge led the way offensively with 10 points, while Amy Willis chipped in 7 and Kenna Wood and Kadenlee Greer added six apiece.

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