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Senior Lion forward led St. Helens to a winning record, put up huge individual numbers

TIMES FILE PHOTO - St. Helens senior forward Maddie Holm was named first-team all Northwest Oregon Conference.

Respect isn't given, it's earned.

And in the Northwest Oregon Conference, where there are girls hoopers galore, where stars are aplenty and the league as a whole is cutthroat from game to game, St. Helens senior star forward Maddie Holm is revered by her peers.

Holm was named first-team all-NWOC, joining the likes of La Salle's Addison Wedin and Emily Niebergall, Wilsonville's Sydney Burns and Emilia Bishop as well as Cali Denson of Milwaukie. The senior forward was a scoring machine, capable of dropping 30 points on practically any opponent in the league as evidenced by her personal explosions against Scappoose and Hillsboro. Holm's jump shot was pure, and she could connect from anywhere on the court. In a day in age where the midrange game is a lost art, Holm gave it new life with a pull-up jumper that was money from 15-to-18 feet. She could back players down in the post with her sinewy strength and possessed the touch to make teams pay when they didn't double inside. The Lion captain was the focus of every opponent's gameplan. She was the head of the snake. Wilsonville, La Salle and other playoff-bound programs tried to limit her impact by sending waves of defenders Holm's way, oftentimes to no avail. Holm helped make her teammates better just by being on the floor. If two defenders came her way, Holm found an open comrade with her shrewd vision and willingness to distribute. Defensively, the six-foot forward was active and engaged. Holm was used frequently on the edges of St. Helens' 2-3 zone where she could wreak havoc in the passing lanes and trigger fast-break opportunities with fast hands and open floor speed.

Holm was the Lions' most valuable player, but she wasn't the only Lion honored, or the only Columbia County star acknowledged, either.

St. Helens junior post Jean Gartman and senior guard Mackenzie Carlson were both honorable mention all-NWOC after helping the Lions finish with an above .500 record (13-10) for the first time in recent memory. Gartman moved into the area after spending her sophomore season at Rainier. She was the Lions' elixir inside, the strong, reliable post presence with great hands that complemented Holm's perimeter game. Carlson could play either point guard or shooting guard and guard almost any position on the floor.

TIMES FILE PHOTO - Scappoose senior Allison Wills was named honorable mention all-NWOC for the Indians.

Scappoose senior wing Allison Wills and senior post Gaby Dague were both honorable mention all-NWOC, as was freshman star in the making, Dylan Mann. Dague, despite missing a few games during the season due to injury, was a two-way difference maker inside. The Indian post played with ferocity, making a living on the offensive glass, refusing to take a play off, believing every rebound was rightfully hers. Dague was one of the best two-way rebounders in the league. Offensively, Dague could divvy up post defenders with a strong array of moves inside and tried and true right-handed jump hook that was good for multiple buckets a game. Wills was a personal favorite of head coach Sarah Mann. The senior wing was a versatile shot-maker capable of getting hot in a hurry, a lockdown defender and a fully functional playmaker both in getting her own offense and setting up her teammates. As a junior, Willis led her team in minutes played, scoring and three-point shooting. On a night where scoring was hard to come by against Silverton, Wills still managed to put up double digits with 10 points.

Mann, in just her first year of varsity basketball, has big-time potential. The freshman is a do-it-all forward. Against St. Helens in the teams' first matchup, Mann scored off the dribble, from the post, making deep jumpers, filling the lane in transition. Playing in front of a packed house, against her team's chief rival, Mann was unintimidated. She competed with steady poise, matching Holm shot-for-shot through the first three quarters until the Lion star pulled her team into the winner's circle. With Wills and Dague graduating this spring, Mann will enter her sophomore season as a leader, a focal point on both ends of the floor and the main offensive option for Scappoose, a program that was young this year and still won six games overall.

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