After an 0-3 start to its Pacific Conference schedule, it was a must-win situation for the Newberg girls basketball team on Jan. 27 as it faced off against Glencoe.
In the fourth quarter, the Tigers were down 13 and on the brink of an 0-4 start. But a 24-point effort in the quarter forced overtime in the contest, and Newberg eventually pulled out a victory in the extra period, 59-53.
The win was Newberg's first in league play – an important step before a 19-point loss to McMinnville a few days later. The Tigers are now 1-4 in league and 11-6 overall – ranked No. 25 in the OSAA 6A rankings despite being near the bottom of the Pacific Conference standings.
"Glencoe was a great win for the kids to get over the hump and pick up our first league win," NHS coach Luke Lindell said. "They took a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter and we were able to put together a 24-point quarter to come back and force OT. We closed strong and out-scored them 8-2 in the overtime period.
"Ashley Kosmicki and Sicily Hampton were huge in the fourth quarter and shot the ball really well."
The rivalry matchup with McMinnville was going to be a tough task no matter what, Lindell said, but the hot shooting display from the Grizzlies led to a blowout loss for Newberg.
The first half buried the Tigers as they played the second half for pride's sake with an aim of cutting the deficit.
"McMinnville came out and was hot from the start with six or seven threes in the first half," Lindell said. "They hadn't shown that versatility on offense all year and yet they put together a great performance. They spread it around and made themselves hard to guard.
"We still have a lot of work to do on our defensive focus and intensity, and our scoring needs to be more consistent. We'll be working on those things over the next few weeks as we try to pick up some more league wins. We got exposed against McMinnville and we're back to working at it."
Newberg played No. 4-ranked Liberty on Tuesday night after press time. The Falcons have been Newberg's toughest opponent all season and Lindell expected the game to be difficult for his young squad.
"Liberty is one of the top teams in the state and they pose a lot of challenges with their guard play," he said. "They've got size, athleticism and experience, so it's going to be a tough one. We just want to play a full 32 minutes and limit our turnovers."
The Sherwood game awaits Newberg on Friday, with a goal of getting revenge on the Bowmen after a 44-37 home loss on Jan. 24. This is a crucial game for the Tigers as they try to avoid dropping out of the playoff picture and hope to improve their place among Pacific Conference squads.
"Sherwood is one we really have to get," Lindell said. "We're healthier now than we were then, but we match up with them well and we have to get this win as we push our way toward earning a playoff spot. Every game is like a playoff game for us.
"Everything is trending the right way for us – these teams in our league are just really good and we have to be on our game every night. The margin for error is not great so we have to improve in certain areas and keep plugging away in these last few basketball games."
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