GIRLS BASKETBALL: Indians show progress in North Marion tourney; Lions go to South Albany

PHOTO COURTESY: LOREN WOHLGEMUTH - Allison Wills of Scappoose handles the ball on the attack in a recent game against Seaside.The fifth time was the charm for the Scappoose High girls basketball team.

After an 0-4 start, Scappoose ventured to North Marion High for the Abby's Pizza Holiday Classic, Dec. 20-22.

The expedition was successful right off the bat, as the Indians defeated Tillamook 38-32 for their first win of the 2018-19 season.

Scappoose lost the next day to tourney host North Marion 52-31, then went home with a 52-35 loss to Valley Catholic — but Indians coach Sarah Mann pronounced all three games positive in their own ways for her squad.

"We had an outstanding tournament," she said. "Collectively, we were really happy with how we competed."

Tillamook was "a fun game," she said, "and then we went up against a very good team in North Marion, and we finished on a high note against Valley Catholic. We did a lot of good things despite being down a couple of bodies."

Senior guard Sarah Mills wasn't available, and sophomore guard Alivia Wills came out during the Valley Catholic after taking a blow to the head.

That left the Indians with seven varsity players, and the number was cut to six when one player fouled out in the second half of the Valley Catholic game.

"Valley was subbing in five players at a time and running at us. We were playing well, but we literally just ran out of gas," Mann said.

Tillamook was 4-2 going into its game against Scappoose. It was a neck-and-neck battle, although the Indians led nearly all the way.

Mann said it was a very improved performance for her team when compared to the first four games, which included a 45-31 loss at Valley Catholic to open the season on Nov. 28.

"We just started executing," she said. "That has been a huge emphasis in practice, and all of a sudden against Tillamook we started doing all the little things very well."

Mann said the Indians' offense, which had struggled in most games, was much more efficient.

"We played really well as a unit, used our bigs when we could and had our guards find gaps and attack the basket," she said. "Off the bench, our number 6-8 players were just as strong as our 1-5."

Down the stretch, Scappoose had the lead and "we just had to maintain it, so we took a timeout with three or four minutes left and talked about our patience and pose and strategy and what we were looking for offensively. We didn't need to score. We just needed to take care of our possessions and run the clock a little bit."

North Marion, which went 2-0 in the tourney to raise its season record to 6-2, built a 10-point halftime lead on Scappoose — but Mann was happy with the way her team handled the full-court press of a Huskies team ranked No. 2 in Class 4A by the state's coaches.

"We executed our press break really well, and they pulled it off after the first quarter," she said.

Valley Catholic had more luck disrupting Scappoose with full-court pressure, and the Valiants jumped to a 17-3 lead.

"But then something just turned on for us," Mann said, "and we outscored them 19-5 in the second quarter to get within four or six points at halftime."

Depth and fatigue helped Valley Catholic pull ahead by more late in that game and climb to 6-4.

Scappoose (1-6) got good work through the tournament from 6-0 junior post Emily Kopra.

"She's our big, but she's a small big compared to some we're going up against," Mann said. "At North Marion, she really started to find her niche, how she can contribute. She's had multiple double-doubles and has brought huge leadership to the team."

Next for the Indians is a 5:30 p.m. Friday game at Cascade (4-5).

"They're a solid program," Mann said. "I expect them to press us and be physical and try to beat us down the court in transition."

• The St. Helens girls had their winning streak snapped at three when they lost 66-44 at Pendleton on Dec. 20. The Buckaroos had a double-digit lead midway through the first quarter, then restored it after a first-half run by the Lions.

"They were really solid, ran some good offense. Their coach thought it was one of their best performances of the year," said Michael Fendall, the first-year coach of the Lions.

Junior forward Maddie Holm led St. Helens with 21 points.

The Lions tried to work on their man-to-man defense, which Fendall hopes will give them more to show future opponents.

"Defensively, we just need to become a little more versatile, and have that to go with a 2-3 or 3-2 zone, and not allow teams to find a comfort zone against us," he said.

The Lions were set to play host to McKay on Thursday, and St. Helens will return to the hardwood on Saturday with a 7 p.m. game at South Albany.

St. Helens (5-3 after the loss to Pendleton) will wrap up its nonleague schedule on Jan. 4, playing at The Dalles.

Then comes a demanding Northwest Oregon Conference opening game at home against Wilsonville on Jan. 8. The Wildcats are ranked No. 1 in 5A.

Another NWOC foe, La Salle, is ranked No. 2.

"I haven't seen those teams play yet, so I don't know what the gap is," said Fendall, "but I looked at the scores last year and they handled us pretty well, so we need to keep getting better and have our complementary pieces step up and score."

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