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Huge turnaround for Scappoose Indians as they open season with runaway road win

PMG PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Senior Allison Wills from Scappoose High pulls up for a jump shot Wednesday night at Hood River Valley.HOOD RIVER — About the only thing the Scappoose Indians girls basketball couldn't do Wednesday night was remember when they'd ever had a game like their 68-19 rout at Hood River Valley. Which made sense, because the players weren't even around the last time something like that happened.

It was the Indians' largest margin of victory in girls hoops since they beat Yamhill-Carlton by 53 points (twice) during the 2013-14 season.

And, based on available records, it was the most points scored by an Indian girls team since Feb. 21, 2006, when Scappoose defeated Rainier 71-51.

"It's crazy," junior wing Alivia Wills said after the HRV game.

And, you want to talk quick turnarounds? Scappoose ended last season with a 29-point loss at home to Putnam, which left the Indians with a 2-21 record. So, Wednesday's 49-point win amounted to a 78-point swing.

"This is a lot more fun," senior guard Allison Wills said.

What got into these Indians?

"We have a lot more energy this year," senior forward Gaby Dague said. "We're a lot closer, better team. We're more connected, and I think we're just going to grow from this."

Second-year head coach Sarah Mann smiled when she pondered what other coaches and teams might think when they see Wednesday's result posted on the Oregon School Activities Association website. Like, is that a misprint? Or, did someone enter the score backwards?

But it's no mistake, and it was no fluke. The Indians really did it, and they looked like knew what they were doing. They led 20-2 after one quarter, 32-6 at halftime and 62-11 after three quarters.

PMG PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Scappoose defenders (from left) Molly Hagen, Allison Wills and Lily Maak surround a Hood River Valley player as the Indians surge to a big early lead Wednesday on the road."We worked really hard in the off-season," Allison Wills said. "We played as many games as possible, we got in the gym, we worked on our shot and how to read the defense."

Last year, the opposite was more the norm for the Scappoose girls — the Indians often struggled to get into their offense or hit shots, let alone get easy baskets. They would start well, but they tended to fall off the pace by halftime and weren't able to recover. Their first win was 38-32 in Game 5, on Dec. 20 against Tillamook. The other victory was 37-30 over shorthanded St. Helens on Feb. 5. The 21 losses came by an average of 23 points, and the Indians averaged only 36 points per game for the season.

On Wednesday, however, the host Eagles never knew what hit them. Allison Wills notched the first basket of the game. Dague then scored inside and off a rebound. When Wills hit again, off a jump-stop, it was 8-0 after just 2:20.

Hood River Valley made two free throws at the 5:27 mark of the first quarter — then didn't score again or make its first field goal until 3:04 was left in the half.

"Our energy, on defense we really brought it," Alivia Wills said. "We were really going for it."

Dague (15 points), Allison Wills (11) and Alivia Wills (10) finished in double figures, and Mann got good minutes from everyone else, going 12 deep.

Guards Maddie Templin, a senior, and Samantha Scott, a junior, each scored seven points.

Junior guard Grace Negelspach came off the bench for six points in a 45-second, steals-led fourth-quarter flurry.

"Everybody was involved tonight," Mann said. "Our bench is deep. I don't really see a drop-off in talent or level of execution."

The Indians looked so much different from last year in basics such as ball handling and passing, and totally different in their comfort level. They also were up tight on defense and didn't hesitate to get in the passing lanes. They turned steals into quick transition baskets or layups.

"We've been working on skill development, but more so I think it was our confidence. It was night and day, the belief in our ability," Mann said. "And we found a pace that we wanted and a tempo we were able to control for all four quarters.

"We knew if we could control the boards and limit our turnovers and take care of our possessions, we were going to be in really good shape, and that proved to be."

It was just one game, of course, and it was against a Hood River Valley team that struggled last season as well, going 2-20 despite having seven seniors on the roster.

Scappoose will have a lot of tougher and much more challenging games ahead, notably among the perennial powers of the Class 5A Northwest Oregon

Conference, state champion La Salle Prep and third-place Wilsonville.

"There's work to do, don't get me wrong," Mann said.

But, after those top teams in the NWOC, "the rest of the spots are up for the taking, right? And I think we're going to make a run," Mann said. "The culture of our team is on fire right now, there's so much great energy and good attitude. The chemistry is solid."

The Indians' next game is Tuesday night at Seaside, which lost its opener on Wednesday, 45-33 at Cascade.

Scappoose will then be at Astoria on Dec. 13, before playing its home opener Dec. 17 versus The Dalles.

PMG PHOTO: STEVE BRANDON - Gaby Dague, Scappoose senior forward, goes for two inside points against Hood River Valley.

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