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Two of the state's best — Bendu Yeaney and Taylor Rarick — duel it out , but it's freshman Mya Braziel that delivers the game winner for the Blues

Standout Bendu Yeaney certainly did her part for St. Mary’s Academy in a crucial road game at Newberg, scoring a game-high 24 points and sparking a fourth-quarter rally, but it was her younger and less-heralded teammates who put the Blues over the top in a 47-46 victory Friday night.

Yeaney scored on a fast break to make it 43-39 Newberg with 4:16 remaining to play, but it would be her last bucket of the night. SETH GORDON - St. Mary's escaped Newberg with 47-46 win Friday in both team's opening game of the Three Rivers League season.

Putbacks by sophomores Julia Ruff and Grace Fallon later made it 45-43 before freshman Jade Newton tied the game on a steal and a layup with 2:57 to go.

After a Taylor Rarick free throw put the Tigers back up 46-45, it was Mya Brazile’s turn, as the freshman guard drove left around the lane for a tough finish and a 47-46 lead with 1:21 to play.

“She stepped up big,” Yeaney said. “That drive was huge. I know I couldn’t make that, so I’m happy she was able to make it because I was getting real tired at the end. I’m happy she pulled through for us.”

Although sloppy throughout, the game did prove to be an excellent showcase for two of the state’s best players in Yeaney and Rarick, but the contest isn’t one thatRarick is likely to recall fondly despite pouring in 22 points.

With the ball and a chance to win the game in the final 20 seconds, Rarick’s first attempt did not fall, but the diminutive speedster collected her own rebound amid a forest of taller players, circled back to the perimeter and drove to the hoop again, this time drawing a foul with 6.7 seconds to play.

Uncharacteristically, however, Rarick missed both attempts, the second of which was halfway down before popping out to pretty much end the game as the Blues secured the rebound.

“She wants the ball in her hands and I know the next time she’ll come through,” Newberg head coach Luke Lindell said. “Great players have that instinct to want the ball in their hands and to be the ones that make the play. I wouldn’t want it in anybody else’s hands.”

For Newberg, it was the second consecutive game in which poor ball security in the fourth quarter cost the Tigers and the loss hurts doubly as it was the season opener for both in the Three Rivers League.

“I think we’re going to get in the gym and get stuff grinded out,” senior guard Sabrina Salmons said. “We’ve done this a lot. We get leads and then we lose them. I think we’re over that. Coach is over that. Once coach gets us in for practice, we’re going to be ready to go. Westview and West Linn, our next two games, are really important for us because 2-2 is not where we want to be right now.”

For St. Mary’s, the game was as close to a must win as possible for this early in the season, considering the 2015 6A state runners up opened the season 0-3, albeit against top-notch competition, while also losing two players to injury.

“Everybody wanted this win, that’s what it came down to because we lost three in a row,” Yeaney said. “We have freshmen on our team and they want to get a win. They fought this game as hard as they could and I’m proud of them.”

Newton finished with 11 points and nine rebounds for the Blues (1-3 1-0 Three Rivers League), while forwards Sydney Kosmicki and Cristina Bryan scored nine apiece for Newberg (2-2, 0-1), with Bryan adding nine rebounds.

The Tigers will travel to Westview for a 7:15 p.m. contest Tuesday, while St. Mary’s hosts Tigard the same night.

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