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Lions top Franklin to split in La Salle Prep girls basketball jamboree under new coach

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Kaela Lee (center) of St. Helens High steals the ball from Franklins Shaydee Gunnell during a season-opening jamboree Wednesday night at La Salle Prep.MILWAUKIE — Growth came in one night for a St. Helens girls basketball team playing its first game under new coach Michael Fendall.

The Lions opened their season with two 12-minute contests at La Salle Prep — and after losing to Ridgeview 28-9, they beat Franklin 21-13.

"We started off a little rough, but I was really impressed the second game and with how they came back and played really well," Fendall said of his Lions. "I'm excited to see growth."

Fendall, a former Reynolds junior varsity boys basketball coach, got the Lions job shortly before the start of training camp.

He said he saw what he wanted to see in a first outing.

"Oh, absolutely," he said. "I think we upped our intensity and our physicality in the second game, and it paid off for us.

"Ridgeview is a really good team and played really well and kind of hit us with a run, which can happen."

Returning forward Maddie Holm, who was all-Northwest Oregon Conference last season, said the team executed "pretty well for our first live action. There's definitely room for improvement, but I think it was a great start to the season and a confidence-booster, too.

"I think we all did a lot better than we thought we were going to do. I think our biggest wonder was, 'Oh, my goodness, how are we going to do this?' This is the first game action of the season with a new coach and a lot of new girls, too.

"It's a bit of a change, learning all different plays, new defense and things like that."

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - Maddie Holm (44) of St. Helens drives around Franklin's Christy Nguyen (left) and Carmen Fiarito during Wednesday's 12-minute jamboree clash at La Salle Prep. Helping with the adjustment, she said, is that "we all have good chemistry, and we're all really close, and we've all played together, too."

Fendall has six seniors, one junior, four sophomores and one freshman on the roster. Despite a fair amount of youth, he likes the makeup of the squad.

"I'm really excited," he said. "I think we have a lot of talent. We're a pretty young team, actually, with a lot of ability, so we just have to develop that and hone our roles and I think we'll develop quickly.

"And Maddie Holm is tremendous, obviously."

The Lions have barely had time with their new coach to put in their plays, he said, "but we're developing and playing hard at all times.

"A couple of our players haven't even played before, so that's something new, and just getting them to play aggressive and believe in themselves is a little bit challenging, but I think we'll get there."

The Lions open at home at 7:15 p.m. Friday against Reynolds, then hit the road again next week for games Tuesday at Dallas and Thursday at Redmond.PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: JIM BESEDA - St. Helens point guard Emelia Paullus moves the ball up the court under pressure from Ridgeviews Marley Sargent during Wednesday's jamboree hosted by La Salle Prep.

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