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Lions finish the regular season campaign above the .500 mark for the first time in years

PMG FILE PHOTO - St. Helens senior Maddie Holm had a team-high 31 points against Hillsboro.

When it's your night, it's your night.

It was Kylie Fernstrom's night Tuesday, Feb. 18, at St. Helens, and her Spartans coaches and teammates were happy to let her have it.

Needing a win following consecutive losses to Wilsonville and Putnam, Fernstrom made 11 3-pointers en route to 44 points in a 71-51 win over the Lions.

St. Helens senior Maddie Holm did all she could to go shot-for-shot with the white-hot Fernstrom. In fact, the all-league forward caught absolute fire herself, making 11 of 19 shots en route to a team-high 31 points. Most nights, a 30-piece from one player equates to a team victory. Against Scappoose, Holm's 31 points pushed the Lions to a 47-34 win, which clinched a sweep over their Seven Mile War rivals.

Unfortunately for Holm and St. Helens, Fernstrom was just in another world when it came to shotmaking. When a shooter finds a groove and gets in that type of zone, it's nearly impossible to stop no matter how hard a defense closes out on the sniper, no matter what kind of defense is put in front of her.

The senior guard made 15 of her 26 shot attempts, including 11 of 19 from behind the arc. Fernstrom's 11 made 3-pointers tied the Oregon girls state record set by Franklin's Shoni Schimmel in a game versus Canby in 2009, and was just two shy of the boys' record of 13, held by Lowell's Brenson Parks who did so versus McKenzie in 1997. The feat comes just a week after Sherwood's Asher Krauel scored 30 points in a single quarter, which too culminated in 11 made threes.

Hillsboro head coach Sara Harsin wasn't surprised by her guard's shooting aptitude but was admittedly — and obviously — impressed by the level of her production on this night.

"I don't ever think you go into a game expecting a kid to get a record," Harsin said. "However, I know the kid can flat out shoot."

Fernstrom too was a bit surprised by the sheer quantity of makes, but was in her mind, simply playing her part in a much-needed win.

"I was not counting, but after a few, I realized I had the hot hand," she said. "It's important to play your role and shooting is probably my strongest suit, so I just kept shooting."

The standout said it wasn't until she was removed from the game that she was informed of just how hot that hand was.

"I was not aware that I had that many three's," Fernstrom said. "I knew I was hitting, but I did not process how many. I was just playing basketball and then during the fourth quarter when I got taken out I was told I made 11, and I was just in shock.

"Obviously I was curious how many I had made, but I tried not to think about it until the game was over."

She went on to say that she had a similar game during her sophomore year when she made eight 3-pointers in a 32 point effort versus West Albany. Since then, she said that it had been on her mind to make a run at that record.

PMG FILE PHOTO - St. Helens junior Maria Reardon is slated to return next year, along with five other rotational players. "It has always been my goal to beat that record and I finally did," she said. "It was so fun. I couldn't have done any of it without my team. The energy was insane, the trust and confidence were there, and I love games like that."

It couldn't have come at a much better time either, as the Spartans were definitely in need of a win following back-to-back league losses last week.

"Winning that game was very important," Fernstrom said. "I think it played a huge role in where we stand in our league, and was great for us, especially after those two unfortunate losses."

Harsin said that part of what made Fernstrom's night so great was that it mostly came organically. From the tip, the Lions sought to take Hillsboro's inside game and post Rian Porter away, and as part of that process allowed Fernstrom and her teammates open looks from the outside. In all, the Spartans made 15 threes, including three from Dylan Kem and one from Margaret Shively.

"We will rearrange the kids depending on what defense is being played," Harsin said. "If Rian is being guarded by one kid she will take it up strong, and if she gets doubled she will kick it out to a shooter."

Now, with just three regular season games remaining and the Spartans jockeying for playoff position, things got a little better on this night — thanks in large part to an exciting and entertaining effort from Fernstrom.

"It was a big win, and it was crazy how many looks she (Fernstrom) got," Harsin said. "My assistant and I on the bench just kept looking at each other and smiling. It was fun."

The loss to Hillsboro ended up being a big blow to St. Helens' 5A playoff hopes. The Lions needed to clinch the fourth spot in the Northwest Oregon Conference standings to earn a berth into the postseason, but unluckily lost three of their last four games including defeats to La Salle and Putnam. St. Helens finished fifth in the NWOC standings with a 5-9 league record. However, the Lions did end the year with a 13-10 record overall, the first time St. Helens has finished above the .500 mark in recent memory. The Lions swept Parkrose and Scappoose and avenged an early season loss to Milwaukie with a 65-54 win over the Kingsmen on Feb. 28 to split the season series. Losing Holm to graduation will hurt, surely, but junior point guard Maria Reardon and junior post Jean Gartman, who moved to St. Helens from Rainier over the summer, will lead a group of six scheduled returners under the guidance of head coach Michael Fendall next season.

The Scappoose girls' basketball team finished the year 6-18 overall and 2-12 in league. The Indians snapped a seven-game losing streak with a big 54-44 win over Parkrose on Feb. 28. Scappoose will only lose three seniors to graduation and should bring back freshman star Dylan Mann and junior standout guard Alivia Wells, amongst others.

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