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Indian girls show some poise only to come up short against Fishermen's bigger size

SPOTLIGHT PHOTO: JOHN BREWINGTON - Scappoose senior post/wing Kaylee Wegner soars in for a shot during her team's 38-25 home loss to Astoria on Wednesday night.At the start of the second half of Wednesday's Cowapa League girls basketball game against Astoria, Scappoose had the visiting Fishermen momentarily rattled.

Rebounds — specifically a pair of offensive boards grabbed by junior post Emily Kopra — had the Indians within three points and building momentum.

But Astoria then got points from six different players and scored 12 in a row to regain control on its way to a 38-25 win at Scappoose High School.

Five games into their 10-game league schedule, the Indians are 1-4 and in fifth place. Scappoose is 5-13 overall.

Astoria (11-7 overall) is 3-2 in Cowapa play, third behind Banks (5-0) and Valley Catholic (4-1) at the midway mark of the league schedule.

Scappoose opens the second half of Cowapa competition against the teams around it in the standings. Fourth-place Seaside (5-13, 2-3) visits Scappoose on Friday for a 6 p.m. game. The Indians then visit last-place Tillamook (3-15, 0-5) on Tuesday.

Trailing 18-11 at halftime against Astoria, Scappoose forced the Fishermen into four turnovers early in the third quarter. Baskets from sophomore wing Allison Wills and Kopra — both after Kopra grabbed offensive rebounds — made the score 18-15 with 2:30 elapsed in the third quarter.

"We had them rattled a little bit where we had some easy opportunities (to score)," second-year Scappoose coach Joe Girres said.

Unfortunately for the Indians, it was the Fishermen who found opportunities at the basket as the third quarter progressed. In the 12-0 Astoria run that followed, three layups, a couple of offensive rebounds and one 3-pointer gave command back to the visitors.

"We had a couple bad breaks there, but the morale of the team was good," Girres said.

The Scappoose girls basketball program has been trying to build momentum for several years, Girres said, noting that the juniors on this year's team have been playing varsity basketball for three years because two seasons ago the program only had enough players for one team.

Given that experience, confidence gets tested, the coach said.

Girres said rebounding is an area that might have made a difference against Astoria. But the Fishermen had a size edge around the basket with sophomores Kajsa Jackson (6-foot-2) and Brooklynn Hankwitz (6-0), and the Indians struggled to consistently box out.

"You give a team like that second and third chances, it's going to cost you," Girres said.

Senior post Kaylee Wegner scored 10 points for Scappoose. Kopra and Willis finished with four points apiece. Lea Brodala scored three points, and Sierra Stafford and Payton Fisher had two apiece.

One positive from Wednesday's game was the way the Indians handled Astoria's defensive pressure.

"We showed a lot better poise tonight in certain situations," Girres said, pointing to execution against trapping and pressure defense. "We did a better job of handling that and then making adjustments as the game went on."

Ball movement has been a hit-and-miss aspect of the Indians' game, according to the coach.

"Sometimes we hold onto the ball a little bit too long," he said. "(Against Astoria) we saw glimpses of moving the ball a little bit better and creating some opportunities."

Opportunities remain to improve as the second round of league games unfold. Girres will push his squad to make the most of every game, both for the three seniors on the roster and for the players who can continue to use that experience for future seasons.

"I'd like to see us compete from the start of the game to the end of the game," Girres said, "to know that when we walk out after the fourth quarter we played hard all the way to the end. If we can do those things, and not worry about the wins and losses, we will be a better team for it and we'll definitely grow."

• In the Indians' 50-29 loss on Jan. 26 at Valley Catholic, Stafford scored eight points and Wegner seven points to lead Scappoose.

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