Oregon City takes back seat to Southridge in 6A final
For the first time since the high school girls' basketball playoffs started, the ball didn't bounce Oregon City's way Saturday night.
Oregon City's impressive run through the OSAA Class 6A's 32-team bracket finally hit a snag as the upset-minded Pioneers dropped a 46-27 decision the top-ranked Southridge Skyhawks in Saturday's championship final at the Chiles Center.
The Pioneers didn't have an answer for Southridge's Maggie Freeman and Kaelin Immel, who had a combined 25 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and seven steals in leading the Skyhawks (26-3) to their sixth state championship and first since 2010.
Southridge's defense also was a deciding factor as the Pioneers (21-7) struggled to generate many quality scoring opportunities out of their half-court sets and ended up shooting 23.8 percent (10 for 42) from the field and a dismal 7.1 percent (1 for 14) from beyond the arc.
"We've had better days," Oregon City coach Kurt Guelsdorf said. "Give Southridge all the credit. That's a team you need a day to get ready for, and with the quick turnaround, I don't think offensively we were much in sync.
"The magnitude of the moment was a little tough on some of the younger kids, but the reality was Southridge outplayed us tonight. You can't win scoring in the 20s, so … the ball wasn't going in for us and Southridge did a great job."
The Skyhawks closed the first quarter on a 15-2 run to take an 18-8 lead, and then took most of the suspense out the final outcome when they outscored the Pioneers 13-4 in the second quarter and went to halftime leading 31-12.
Oregon City's N'Dea Flye knocked down a 3-pointer to cut Southridge's lead to 11 points, 32-21 with 3:24 left in the third quarter, but the Pioneers never got the deficit down to single digits in the second half.
"I might be cryin' right now, but I'm incredibly happy for us to finish in second place when nobody had us in the final," said Flye, the University of New Mexico-bound guard who led the Pioneers with 10 points. "It's my last year of high school basketball and I wouldn't have wanted it to end any other way but in the finals."
If there was anything the Pioneers could have done differently against Southridge, what would Flye have liked to see?
"Maybe play with more energy in the first half," she said. "We lacked energy in the first half, and that's kind of what killed us. If we had energy like had in the previous two games, I think it would have been closer."
There is no denying that the No. 6-seeded Pioneers were the surprise team of this year's tournament, knocking off No. 3 Clackamas 55-37 in Thursday's quarterfinals, and then shocking No. 2 South Salem, the two-time defending state champions, 54-46 in Friday's semifinals.
The Pioneers hoped to keep the momentum rolling into Saturday night as they went after what would have been state championship No. 13, but it wasn't meant to be.
"We all knew we could get here," senior center Whitnie Warren said. "We fought, and it hurts to lose, but we fought and we can be proud of that.
"It felt good to be in that game. It felt good to have the opportunity that was there. We just didn't pull it off, but we fought, and I'm really, really, really proud of my team for getting this far and doing what we did."