St. Helens boys', girls' basketball ready for Wilsonville
In what the Sandy boys expected to be a win Friday, Jan. 19, the visiting Lions had the last laugh.
St. Helens filled a double-digit second-half hole and escaped 64-61.
"This game was the perfect summary of our season," said coach Jason Maki, whose Pioneers (5-11 overall, 2-4 Northwest Oregon Conference) led 39-28 at intermission. "We had some moments where we were as good as we have been all season, then some moments where we were as bad as we've been all season. We had some turnovers where it seemed like we just threw the ball to the other team."
Sandy sophomore forward Kaleb Hubbard led all scorers with 18 points, but Joe Rea sank five 3-pointers on the way to 17 points.
"Everybody started playing together and trusting each other to get to our spots," Lions coach Jordan Massinger said. "I felt like we got down on ourselves in the first half and Sandy was able to capitalize, but we played with heart and dug deep to find that extra gear in the second half."
Sandy scored 97 points against St. Helens (9-7, 3-3) at home last season, and it seemed possible Tuesday: The Pioneers played at a frenetic pace early with Hubbard doing most of the damage in transition for the first seven points and all of his scoring in the first half.
"I was just trying to stay focused and keep my energy up," Hubbard said. "I was being really aggressive going to the hoop, and I was able to find my shot."
The Lions kept Sandy in a half-court offense in the third quarter, and the Pioneers couldn't buy a bucket as they only hit one field goal in the quarter.
"The ball definitely got a little sticky in the second half," Maki said. "We weren't moving it well at all."
Rea hit a 3 and Owen Wolfe put in a rebound to help the Lions start a 10-0 run and trail 44-41 into the fourth.
"We handled the pressure of the moment really well," said Rea, a sophomore guard. "We came down and hit shots that were surreal. Our big men also played really well on both ends -- I feel like that's what really got us back into this."
Drake Dow gave St. Helens its first lead, 45-44, with a layup at 7:05 left in regulation, and Sandy's spiral continued: Hubbard chased the layup to the rim but landed on his ankle and missed the rest of the contest.
"I'm pretty mad that we lost the lead because I felt like I could have helped my teammates out if I was out there," Hubbard said.
Pioneer junior guard Colton Gorski nevertheless sank a 3 and tied it at 58, but Wolfe answered with a jumper and Jacob Falk dunked the Lions into a 62-58 lead with 46.5 seconds.
Dow missed the first of a one-and-one free throw opportunity with five seconds left, Sandy senior forward Wyatt Fisher zipped the rebound to Gorski, who fed sophomore wing Pierce Roeder in the corner.
Roeder pump-faked a St. Helens defender but his triple at the horn bounced off the back of the rim.
"We're a whole different team from last year," said Dow, a senior guard. "I think we could be one of the top teams in the league, and I think we proved it tonight."
Falk, Trenton Minich and Wolfe came away with 15, 14 and 10 respective points as Roeder finished with 12.
The Lions beat the Pioneers for the third time in the last five attempts, but Sandy outscores them by a 75-65 average in the back-and-forth series.
St. Helens almost pulled off an even bigger comeback at home against La Salle Prep (7-9, 4-2) Tuesday but fell 50-48.
"We started off super slow," Massinger said. "We just couldn't get it going because we were not playing aggressively on offense or defense. By the middle of the third quarter we got down by 28 -- it was 41-13. We went on a 32-3 run and, late in the fourth, it was 45-44 -- we had the lead. Unfortunately, we allowed a 3 on an offensive rebound to lose by two. It was a crazy game -- I've never seen anything like that before."
The Lions are nevertheless the best they've been since their 14-11, 8-6 Class 5A play-in appearance in 2012-13 and, with eight games left, can get to work in chasing that record at No. 5 repeat state champion Wilsonville (10-6, 6-0) and Coach of the Year Chris Roche at 7:15 p.m. Friday.
The Wildcats have beaten St. Helens eight times in a row by an average of 73-40, but the Lions score 64 points against 63 this winter while Wilsonville goes for 60 and gives up 46.
Lions girls running for best record in five years
In the end, Sandy shot itself in the foot too many times Friday, Jan. 19.
Whether through unforced turnovers or missed layups, the Pioneers could not find their rhythm as visiting St. Helens beat them 46-28.
"It's a little bit disappointing to see things not click for us on offense," Sandy coach Nechele Bradshaw said. "We have worked on that a ton, but instead we saw a lot of passing and standing around tonight when we should have been moving ... The girls seemed pretty defeated, but we've got to bring it every night in order to win at this level."
While the Pioneers (4-12, 1-5) hit three field goals in the first quarter, Maddie Holm and the Lions got rolling with eight of her 20 points via mid-range jumpers and post moves.
"It felt like we were in gear as a team and we were able to make things happen for ourselves," said Holm, a sophomore post. "We ran our offense like we were supposed to."
St. Helens (7-9, 3-3) jumped out 14-6 late in the first half before Sandy junior wings Athena Thomas and Isabelle Cabrera sank a 3-pointer and made good on a fast break layup, but Myranda Northrop nailed a mid-range buzzer beater and helped her side lead 17-11 at intermission.
The Lions pressed, opened a zone and played man-to-man, and the Pioneers traveled six times in the first two quarters against five made shots.
"We had way too many turnovers," Cabrera said. "We have to learn how to take care of the ball better. We also need to get better shots."
St. Helens put its foot on the gas in the third: Sandy freshman wing Brooklyn Adams trimmed the deficit to four, but the Lions began a 13-1 run in the next four minutes: Back-to-back hoops from Holm, a jump hook Kaela Lee and a 3 from Northrop.
"The second half was a really great half for us: I felt like everyone on the roster contributed in a positive way," Lions coach Brittaney Niebergall said. "It was really nice to see our girls play well together and support each other on the court."
Cabrera hit a pair of fourth-quarter triples but St. Helens clamped down.
"If you can't score points, you're not going to win: It's plain and simple," Bradshaw said. "I know these girls have it in them. I've seen it in spurts. We're just hoping to find some consistency."
St. Helens could not, however, get a jump on No. 3 La Salle Prep (12-4, 6-0), which won its seventh game in a row, 64-31, Tuesday in Milwaukie, despite 16 points from Holm.
"We didn't shoot the ball particularly well in the first half, which caused us to have an early deficit," Niebergall said. "We continued to play hard and had a good fourth quarter, but by being in a deficit early in the game we were constantly trying to play catch-up."
The Lions are in their best run since their 7-17, 2-14 finish in 2015-16 and, with eight games left, can reach an eighth win for the first time since their 8-16, 2-12 2012-13 campaign if they beat eighth-ranked Wilsonville (13-3, 5-1) and all-conference juniors Cydney Gutridge (a guard) and Teagan McNamee (a wing) at home, scheduled for 7:15 p.m. Friday.
The Wildcats have beaten St. Helens in all 22 conference head-to-heads -- by an average of 65-35 -- since they came up from Class 3A in 2006, and Wilsonville scores a Class 5A-best 62 points against 39 per game while the Lions go for 40 and 39.
ST. HELENS 64, SANDY 61
Friday, Jan. 19, in Sandy
SH 11 17 13 23 — 64
S 19 20 5 17 — 61
ST. HELENS (9-7, 3-3) -- Joe Rea 17, Jacob Falk 15, Trenton Minich 14, Owen Wolfe 10, Drake Dow 8.
SANDY (5-11, 2-4) -- Kaleb Hubbard 18, Pierce Roeder 12, Jaden Robinson 9, Colton Gorski 8, Wyatt Fisher 6, AJ Chase 4, Anthony Ruiz 3, Brandon Remsburg 1.
ST. HELENS 46, SANDY 28
Friday, Jan. 19, in Sandy
11 6 15 14 — 46
SANDY 6 5 7 10 — 28
ST. HELENS (7-9, 3-3) -- Maddie Holm 20, Myranda Northrop 7, Kaela Lee 7, Irene Omboke 4, Emelia Paullus 4, Maria Reardon 3, Kasten Warner 1.
SANDY (4-12, 1-5) -- Isabelle Cabrera 8, Atehna Thomas 5, Isabella Kansala 4, Jenna Eslinger 4, Brooklyn Adams 4, Tana Dwyre 3.