Scappoose girls basketball starts fast, falls to Hillsboro
Ten minutes after getting hounded and harassed by a Hillsboro team fixed on fullcourt pressure, Scappoose set its sights North, to the opponent it's intimately familiar with, toward a rivalry that needs no explanation.
The Indians' home opener admittedly didn't go as planned. Scappoose started fast, jumping out to a 6-0 first quarter lead against the Spartans, bucking a troubling trend of sluggish beginnings that plagued the Indians during non-league play. While the head start didn't sustain there were more bright moments along the way in a 64-5 defeat. And those positive instances will be critical as Scappoose (1-9 overall, 0-1 in league) travels seven miles up Highway 30 to take on archrival St. Helens (6-5 overall, 0-1 in league) on Friday at 5:45 p.m.
"Friday is huge for us, it's what we've been waiting for all season," Scappoose head coach Sarah Mann said. "Being a small community out here the kids know each other well. They overlap in a lot of other sports and that definitely fuels the rivalry. Playing at St. Helens it's warm, it's loud, there's a lot of energy. It's the game the kids look forward to every year."
Referred to as "The Seven Mile War" because of the foes' close proximity, Mann said the moniker best describes a conflict that's ages old, yet seems to escalate with each passing season. Mann has been on the Indian coaching staff for six years with this season being her first at the helm. In the past, Mann said Scappoose best contended with St. Helens when it got after it defensively and converted in transition. The Lions have a handful of solid outside shooters and junior Madison Holm "can't be taken lightly" in the high and low post. But Scappoose is no slouch. Junior post Gaby Dague looked like a difference maker against Hillsboro despite sitting out most of the second quarter with three fouls. Junior post Emily Kopra can get hot in a hurry and while the Indian offense wasn't great against Hillsboro, it can hum as well.
"We have some shooters too," Mann said with a smile. "If we can start lighting them up consistently and shooting confidently and feed Gaby the ball and get Emily involved with a more physical presence I think we're going to do alright on Friday."
The Spartans' fullcourt press stressed Scappoose into turnovers and offensive missed opportunities as the game got away from the Indians. Hillsboro was hot all night from the outside burying triples and getting the ball inside for and-one three-point plays.
However, Mann said it was positive to see the Indians motivating themselves in the locker room before the game rather than the coaches pumping up the squad. Offensive rebound putbacks from Dague and Allison Willis, as well as a Payton Fisher pull-up jumper, put Scappoose up 6-0 with five minutes to go in the first quarter. Willis scored all four of her points in the first quarter.
"It was just this fire that they had," Mann said. "They haven't come out of the gate like that. They haven't been as hyped in the locker room as I saw them tonight. That was an emphasis for us and I think the girls did a good job creating that."
Dague picked up her third foul early in the second quarter and was forced to sit as Scappoose struggled to score. Without their low post threat, Indians' didn't have a second quarter field goal until there were 55 seconds left in the first half and trailed 30-14 at the break. But in the third, Dague dominated, cleaning the offensive glass for second-chance points, making jumpers, battling inside through double teams and extra Spartans. Dague scored 10 of her team-high 12 points in the second half in addition to her eight rebounds, five of which were offensive. Dague's matchup against Holm will be huge in deciding the Seven Mile War on Friday.
"She's stepped up more into a leadership role this year, that's something new for her," Mann said of Dague. "She progressed a lot in terms of her footwork and skill work in the offseason. She put some time in and it's showing. She's putting up some big points, getting some big boards. She has several double doubles for us and that's super impactful because we don't have a lot of size."