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Tigers pick up a pair of narrow wins last week as they continue pre-season play

Last season, closing games was the bugaboo for Newberg girls basketball during much of its extended conference losing streak. Now, early in the 2019-2020 campaign, the Tigers have earned themselves reason for optimism in that department.

Newberg is 2-0 so far in the young season after a 34-28 road win over Wilson on Friday and a 46-44 home victory over North Medford on Saturday.

In both games, the Tigers relinquished bigger leads, but then put together the plays down the stretch to emerge victorious.

Coach Luke Lindell expected the game with Wilson to be physical and hard fought and he wasn't wrong.

"We knew Wilson was going to be a dogfight going in," Lindell said. "They're a really well coached basketball team and that game was always going to be a challenge. They make you work for everything you're going to get and we played a much better basketball game this year compared with last year's loss to them.

"That game was a confidence builder for our team. Just to be able to play with a team of that caliber on the road and get the win is awesome for this group. Last year we might not have finished a game like that."

Junior guard Ashley Kosmicki led the way for Newberg with 11 points in the low scoring victory.

Her defense on the opposing team's best player was key as well, Lindell said, and nine of her points came on three timely three-pointers.

The North Medford game followed a different track than the season-opening victory, with Newberg getting out to larger leads throughout the contest, only to see them disappear.

"We had double digit leads at different points and let them evaporate," Lindell said. "We made some mistakes down the stretch as we were trying to close and we really got lucky because a three-pointer rattled out at the buzzer that would've beat us. We were fortunate to escape that one, but we found a way which is positive."

Senior guard Sicily Hampton led the Tigers in scoring with 17, trailed by Kosmicki in double digits. The balanced scoring effort is something that Lindell believes makes Newberg a tough out.

"We don't rely necessarily on one player to be the leading scorer for us, which makes us harder to guard I think," Lindell said. "We just want to get more consistency out of everyone in our lineup so we can put up bigger scoring numbers."

Newberg played a home game against Lincoln on Tuesday night after press time. The Tigers' next contests are on Friday and Saturday against Aloha and Sunset – both games are part of Newberg's own tournament.

Lindell noted that he is happy with the start, but expects plenty of lessons ahead.

"We haven't shot the ball well in either game and have missed a bunch of free throws," he said. "There's a lot of positives from a first weekend of going 2-0, but there's still a lot to work on in the weeks and months ahead. That's why you play these preseason games is to get ready for league."


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