Inconsistency hurts Cleveland in early preseason games, though

The Cleveland High girls basketball team has had its moments this season.

Just not as many of them, yet, as the Warriors would like.

The Warriors have a 1-2 record that includes a win against Parkrose and losses in the season opener at McMinnville and Tuesday night at home to Putnam.

In both defeats, Cleveland mounted comebacks but couldn't sustain its second-half rallies.

"We've just got to get more consistent," coach Suzanne Washington said after Tuesday's 73-52 loss to Putnam. "Really good things happen for us, and then we just give the ball up too often."

The Warriors were off and on against Putnam. They fell behind 7-2 at the start and played catch-up most of the night. They trailed 31-20 late in the first half and 41-30 early in the third quarter.

Then a light came on, the Warriors began to get out in transition quicker and the home team pulled to within 43-42 on Taylor Ristvedt's three-point play at the 2:19 mark of the third quarter.

But Putnam regained control, sinking several 3-pointers to throw cold water on the heated-up Cleveland attack.

Still, the Warriors trailed only 52-49 midway through the fourth quarter.

Putnam made the big spurt the rest of the way, though, and won the fourth quarter 28-10 to turn a close game into a lopsided-looking final score.

"We moved the ball pretty well a good portion of the time," Washington says, "but it seemed like we couldn't

buy a bucket."

Putnam's long-range shooting made a big difference. Senior guard Mariah Mendez-Oliver sank six 3-pointers, four in the fourth quarter, and led all scorers with 23 points.

For Cleveland, senior wing Antonia Washington had 12 points, junior post Ristvedt had 11 and junior guard Sophie Wangen scored 10.

The Warriors had made a similar run at McMinnville before falling back in a 63-43 loss on Dec. 5.

"We ran out of gas in that one," Coach Washington said.

The 2013-14 Warriors have a similar look to the team that last season earned a co-PIL 5A title with Wilson. The 6-2 Ristvedt and 5-11 senior post Emily Rommel, standouts on this year's league volleyball champions, patrol the inside again, with Ristvedt also popping out on the high post to hit jumpers or move the ball.

Around that duo are Antonia Washington, Wangen, senior guards Jule Holgate and Amanda Ulrick, senior wing Cali Hodge and freshman guard Tynesha Parnell, who all do a combination of ball-handling, passing and shooting.

Antonia Washington and Holgate are returning team captains, and Hodge has joined them in that role this season.

The Warriors won 59-37 at Parkrose on Dec. 6, and their goal is to get a third consecutive league title — they won the PIL 5A outright two years ago.

The rest of Cleveland's preseason won't be easy. Next is a game at Sunset on Friday. The Dalles-Wahtonka visits Cleveland on Dec. 17, and then come four consecutive late-December road tests, versus Clackamas, Hillsboro, Marist and Sherwood.

Forest Grove pays a visit on Jan. 3, and then the PIL 5A season begins with Roosevelt at Cleveland on Jan. 7.

"It's a tough preseason, but it's good for us," Coach Washington says. "It's what we need. Our team always gets better when we play those tough teams.

"And there's a lot of things we need to get integrated. We're not traditionally a team that comes out of the gate fast, and we have some new players we need to get into the mix."

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