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Scapppose girls basketball goal: better finishing on offense, more scoring

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Alivia Wills of the Scappoose Indians dives for the ball as she battles three Cascade High players for possession during a game last week.If there is a magic number for the Scappoose girls basketball team this season, it's probably 40-something.

As in, 40 or more points on the Scappoose side of the scoreboard.

The Indians will take a 1-7 record into Friday's 6:30 p.m. nonleague road game against Molalla having come short of the 40-point mark in each of their outings.

Scappoose's victory was 38-32 over Tillamook in Game 5, played Dec. 20 in the Abby's Pizza Holiday Classic at North Marion.

Since then, the Tribe has played reasonably well but lost 52-31 to North Marion, 52-35 to Valley Catholic and 47-33 last Friday at Cascade.

In the Cascade game, the Indians stayed close throughout, but among the things that held them back was the familiar struggle to "score the ball," as former NBA and Trail Blazers broadcaster Steve Jones was fond of saying.

Some games, it might take 50-plus points to win. But in other cases, 40-something might do — and the Indians are working hard to convert enough possessions to get to that level.

"Our practices have had a heavy emphasis on putting points on the board," Scappoose coach Sarah Mann said.

A lot of it comes down to simply being a bit more accurate from the field — and the Indians weren't far off the target at Cascade. The game was still in doubt in the third and fourth quarters, but Scappoose just missed on several second-half scoring opportunities on shots from different spots on the court.

"We had a lot of rim-rattlers," Mann said. "In that regard, it was a tough one."

Late in the third quarter, senior guard Sarah Mills hit a 3-pointer to pull the Indians to within 23-20, and moments later her 2-point basket cut Cascade's lead to 26-22.

The Class 4A Cougars (5-5) pulled ahead 31-22 going in the fourth quarter, but Scappoose was within 38-31 with three minutes to go and was down only 39-32 with 2 1/2 minutes left.

Cascade hit 6 of 8 free throws in the fourth quarter-plus to help preserve its lead.

"It was hard going into the fourth quarter with them in the double bonus," Mann said.

With a couple more of their own field-goal attempts going through the hoop, the Indians might have made the finish extremely close.

"We were right there. We were taking good shots and attacking the rim," Mann said. "We didn't get to the free-throw line as much as I'd like, but we're working a lot of consistently attacking and finishing — to run at our opponent instead of settling for a 10-footer. My outside shooters are confident taking those, but we need to work on getting more shots up and getting to the basket more often."

Scappoose led 10-7 after one quarter.

"We had a fire under us. We really wanted to go after it," senior guard Payton Fisher said.

Cascade pulled ahead 19-16 as the teams headed to halftime, but Mann was pleased with most of what she had seen.

"Our defense stepped up pretty big," Mann said. "We forced a lot of turnovers in the backcourt. And for three of the four quarters, we handled the press break pretty well."

Mills wound up with a team-high 11 points.

A freshman, 5-10 post Molly Hagen, got her most extensive varsity action of the season and acquitted herself well against Cascade.

"She played really well and earned more minutes," Mann said. "I especially wanted her to rebound and play some defense. She used her body in there pretty well."

The Scappoose players remained upbeat after the game.

"It just wasn't our night," said junior post Emily Kopra.

The focus turned to the next game, which will be Scappoose's final tuneup before the 5A Northwest Oregon Conference season.

"We're excited," Kopra said. "It's been a fun season."

The team's depth seems to be a strong point.

"We go to number 6, 7, 8, 9, and everyone's playing good ball," Fisher said.

Mann will take those kinds of contributions from the reserves and work with it the rest of the season.

"I've got a group of really coachable kids. They play hard for me," she said. "I'm really happy with this group."

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