St. Helens girls basketball beats Scappoose, sweeps season series
Beating Scappoose and sweeping the season series from their Seven Mile War foil just might be the stimulus St. Helens needed to push for that long-awaited postseason bid.
Senior Maddie Holm, in her last contest ever facing Scappoose, went out with a bang, scoring a game-high 30 points to lift the Lions to a 47-34 win over the Indians on Feb. 12 at St. Helens High School. With the victory, St. Helens snapped a five-game losing streak and took sole possession of sixth place in the Northwest Oregon Conference standings, just two games behind Hillsboro for fourth in league. Some of that winless drought can be chalked up to the strength of Wilsonville and La Salle, both of whom are ranked inside the Class 5A power rankings' top-three. Yet there were also moments where the Lions were their own worst enemy, turning the ball over against pressure, committing self-inflicted mistakes, missing easy shots.
But against Scappoose, those trends changed. St. Helens was better defensively, crisper offensively with a few newly implemented sets, more protective of the basketball. Head coach Michael Fendall could sense his team was turning a corner after a few days of focused practice. And against the Indians, those retaught habits translated over to the contest.
"I thought we played a really complete game," Fendall said. "We've been doing a better job of taking care of the ball, getting better looks at the basket. It really paid off for us."
In addition to Holm's 30-piece, junior Maria Reardon added 14 points as the dynamic duo combined for 44 of St. Helens' 47 points. Admittedly, Fendall prefers a more balanced offensive attack with multiple players chipping in. But the head coach couldn't complain about his veterans' production, especially in victory and without the services of junior post Jean Gartman, who was out with a concussion.
"Whatever gets the job done is all I'm for at the end of the day," Fendall said with a smile. "Holm is always a killer. She's always going to get buckets for us. Maria really stepped up and was more aggressive than she had been going to the basket as opposed to settling for long jump shots. She really attacked and that benefited her a lot."
St. Helens stormed out to a 10-0 first quarter lead, pushed it to 15-3 and 19-10 at the end of the period. As opposed to the past few weeks when the Lions found themselves facing early deficits, the quick beginning settled down the squad.
"That was critical for the players' mindset," Fendall said. "It was a boost of confidence and it avoided the whole 'Here we go again' type of thing. We've been battling no matter what, but it's hard when you get down early to stay confident and stay with it."
Scappoose made a run in the second quarter and got back in the game to make it 26-21 at the half. The third quarter was more of a low-scoring back-and-forth before St Helens took off again in the fourth, just as it did in the first matchup against Scappoose, to put the game away. The Indians had senior post Gaby Dague back in the lineup and made a few key outside shots and moved the ball well in the second quarter against St. Helens' 2-3 zone. But the Lions sped up the pace with a fullcourt press which enabled them to take the lead for good.
St. Helens is alive and well in the quest for either the third or fourth automatic NWOC playoff bid. With three games to go in the second half of the league slate, the Lions are venturing out on a sort of revenge tour. La Salle is the Lions' last game of the season and that'll be a herculean task. But games against Putnam and Milwaukie are obtainable and winnable with quality play. Fendall would be the first to admit St. Helens wasn't at its best the first time through the schedule. Against Putnam the Lions turned the ball over 30 times and the Kingsmen scored 88 points. St. Helens held Hillsboro to 45 points but only scored 30. And against Milwaukie, the Lions trailed by 18 early, but whittled the lead down to three in the fourth yet couldn't get over the hump. This time around, Fendall believes St. Helens will be much better and much more equipped to compete it out for that fourth postseason spot.
"We don't feel like we gave them our best shot," Fendall said. "Playoffs or not, we feel like we owe those teams a much better look. We have to carry that same effort and execution from the Scappoose game over and build off of it. It was a big win and we're happy with it, but tomorrow is a whole new deal."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.