Day by day, play by play and game by game, the Oregon City girls basketball team just continues to work.
The Pioneers showed the results of their hard work on Wednesday, Dec. 29, coming back from an opening-round loss in the Pacific Office Automation Holiday Classic to beat West Salem 40-34 at Franklin High School.
"It's really great," said Oregon City sophomore guard Kaitlen Carns, who finished with six points (on 3 of 5 shooting from the field and a 0 of 1 day at the foul line), along with three rebounds, two assists and two steals. "We want to go uphill from here, and it was obviously not great to lose (the last two games), but it was great to come back."
"We just made really good plays at the right times," said senior guard Madison Norton, who finished with seven points (on 2 of 7 shooting from the field and a 3 of 4 day at the free throw line), along with two rebounds and two steals. "Everybody stepped up and we did really good out there."
"I think (we won) because we were able to get stops on 'D,'" added senior guard Grace Leasure, who finished with four points (on 1 of 5 shooting from the field and a 2 of 4 day at the foul line), along with a team-high eight rebounds, one assist and one steal. "We were eventually able to convert (those) into offensive points. We had a drought where we stopped doing that … but we got it back at the end."
With the victory, the Pioneers snapped their two-game losing streak, won for the third time in the past five games and improved to 5-3 overall. West Salem, meanwhile, lost for the second straight time and fell to 2-5 overall.
The Titans were led by junior wing/post Elizabeth Bennett, who led all scorers with 24 points (on 11 of 23 shooting from the field, including 2 of 4 3-pointers), along with 11 rebounds and two steals. Junior wing/post Adria Dixon added four points (on 1 of 5 shooting from the field and a 2 of 2 day at the foul line), along with nine rebounds and two steals.
After a slow start, the Pioneers took over late in the first quarter to grab a 12-8 lead. They pushed that edge to 19-8 in the second quarter when junior Teagan Killinger grabbed an offensive rebound, then set up senior Emily Billings for a 3-pointer from the right wing with 5 minutes, 46 seconds left in the period.
West Salem crept back within 20-14 on back-to-back baskets by Bennett, the second of those a putback with 2:48 to go in the quarter. But the Pioneers extended their lead to 26-14 at the break, a stretch capped by sophomore Daisy Boling-Schmidt's three-point play in the final minute.
Bennett brought her team within six points twice in the third quarter, the last time at 28-22 after grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring with 4:53 to go in the period. But the Pioneers reasserted control and built their lead back to 32-22, with Norton scoring six points in just 1:39, the last four on back-to-back backcourt steals and layins within just six seconds.
Bennett closed the period with five straight points to bring her team within 32-27 entering the fourth quarter, and things got even closer there. Mya Adams made a steal and scored on the fast break, Bennett buried a "three" and Adams hit a pullup in the key to tie the score at 34-34 with 2:35 remaining to play.
But the Pios steadied themselves down the stretch, held the Titans scoreless the rest of the way and got a left-handed layup from Carns, a layin from sophomore Megan Craig assisted by Leasure and a driving basket from sophomore Mollie Miller with 59 seconds remaining for the final 40-34 margin.
"(There are) things we still need to improve on — sometimes we have spurts … and then we drop them so we just need to try and stay consistent," Carns said.
"All 13 of us can step up and play our roles," Norton added. "We have shooters, we have people who can drive, we have defenders — everybody plays a part so that's really good."
Billings added eight points (on 2 of 2 shooting from the field, both 3-pointers), along with one assist and one block. Boling-Schmidt added five points (on 1 of 4 shooting from the field and a 3 of 3 day at the foul line).
On Thursday, Dec. 30, the Pioneers will face Mountainside at noon at Franklin.
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