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Small team, young players focused on improving each year, looking ahead to summer

COURTESY PHOTO: SARAH MANN - Scappoose basketball players make goofy faces and show off their weight-room gains.With only 13 girls across varsity and junior varsity, the Scappoose High School girls basketball team had a tough season cut out for it this year.

The varsity team lost their first five games and ultimately ended the season with four wins and nine losses, but players and coach Sarah Mann said the team wasn't deterred by the scoreboard.

Of those first five games, three were against schools that are significantly larger than Scappoose, from Putnam, with 44% more students, to Forest Grove, which has nearly triple the enrollment of Scappoose. The team also faced La Salle Prep, a private school and the 5A state champion in three of the past five years.

"On paper, yeah, it looks like a tough start," Mann said. "But we've developed just like we should be developing time-wise, and we put ourselves in positions to try to grow by playing some of those schools," Mann said.

"Even though our scores or record may not have reflected it, I feel like we improved and as a team, got a lot better this year," sophomore Adison Stoddard said. Scappoose did win both games its played against St. Helens, each by at least 20 points.

"Our girls have done such a good job being mentally tough and rebounding from tough situations," Mann said. "There were a couple of losses this season that definitely impacted our morale temporarily — but I think that's the key word. It was just moments of impact, and we were able to kind of fight back and move forward every time we stepped into the gym," COURTESY PHOTO: SARAH MANN - The Scappoose girls basketball team played their final game of the season on June 24 against Franklin.

The low numbers, coupled with a few injuries throughout the season, meant that most of the girls were playing both JV and varsity games each night.

"When you wanted to stop and when you really needed to stop, there were some quarters where we just couldn't have a sub, because we didn't have enough girls," sophomore Dylan Mann said.

Sarah Mann said the team would play up to 24 games in a typical season, but ended the short season with just 13. "For most sports, you need that ramp up period. So right now, we're kind of starting to peak, which would be typically when we're starting to enter into league," Mann said ahead of the team's last game of the season.

Two years ago, in the 2018-19 season, the team won just one league game and lost 13, meaning they won just 7% of the time. Scappoose started out the 2019-20 season warming up with nine consecutive non-league games, but then went 2-12 in league games, winning 14% of its games.

This season, with a 3-5 league record, the team won 37.5% of league games.

The team ended the season with three games in a non-league tournament, winning one game but fighting through close matchups all in three games.

Dylan Mann said the team's game against Southridge, which ended 41-34, was one of her favorite games in the season.

"We were all just being so supportive of each other," he said. "When the other team was on a scoring streak, we weren't dropping our heads or getting upset about it. The team was just a big hype squad toward each other."

The team only had one practice with everyone present before the first game, because a number of players were still finishing up the softball season.

"Our school has such a great pool of amazing multi-sport athletes. But," Mann said, "when you're a multi-sport athlete, it's hard to dedicate that time to a single skill development, like working on your shot or working on your ball handling."

The program has had close to 20 players in past seasons, but coach Mann said she hopes the program grows to have 30 players to fill three teams.

Stoddard said the focus this season was on improving the team's confidence. "Because we are such a young team, that was a big thing," Stoddard said.

After a short season, girls on the team still have energy left to keep moving. The team is participating in a summer program throughout July, which will quickly surpass the number of games played in the school season.

The team has participated in summer tournaments and scrimmages in the past, but this summer program will cram games into a month.

Stoddard and Dylan Mann both said they were looking forward to a large number of incoming freshman joining the team. "We already have such a good bond and good chemistry with our team right now, I'm really excited to bring all these new players in," Dylan Mann said.

Dylan Mann said the size of the team might double with the incoming freshmen.

The team graduated just one senior, Lily Maak. The rest of the team was made up of three juniors, five sophomores, and six freshmen.

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