Scoring drought sinks the Tigers
The Newberg and Lakeridge girls basketball teams entered their contest Friday night tied for fifth-place in the Three Rivers League, but it was the Pacers that made a move in the playoff chase, downing the host Tigers 49-40 to move into a tie for fourth and the conference's final automatic playoff spot.
It was a frustrating night for Newberg, which went five for 23 on three-pointers and struggled to finish several of its good looks in the paint.
At the same time, Lakeridge put forth a solid performance despite missing two starters.
After falling behind early, Newberg rallied to take a 22-17 lead with less than two minutes before halftime, but Brooke Clinton hit back-to-back three-pointers and Sierra Zevenbergen hit a 10-foot floater at the buzzer to put the visitors up 25-22.
"I thought our transition defense struggled at times," NHS coach Luke Lindell said. "A lot of that's caused by us not shooting the ball particularly well from the perimeter and those long rebounds lead to transition opportunities for them. That's kind of what hurt us at the end of that second quarter. They hit us and we just never really recovered."
The Pacers (9-6, 3-4) carried the momentum over to the third quarter, scoring the first eight points of the half to make it a 16-0 run bridging halftime.
The Pacers, who lost 27 straight games after winning their season opener a year ago, kept the lead around 10 points for most of the second half, although Newberg made a push in the fourth quarter, getting as close as six points at 44-38 with 3:41 to play.
Both teams misfired a few times over the next two minutes before Clinton put the game away with a pair of free throws in the final minute.
Giselle Bennetti led the Tigers with 13 points, with sophomore Reneé Lee adding 11 and freshman Lexi Morace chipping in eight.
"You have to give a lot of credit to Lakeridge," Lindell said. "What (coach Jason Brown's) done to turn them around is great. He's brought some structure and some hope and they're playing good basketball."
Newberg (4-11, 2-5) will host West Linn at 5:45 p.m. Thursday in the first game of a girls-boys doubleheader.