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The Crusaders get 23 points from Emma Sixta and earn a trip to the 6A state tournament March 10-12 at the Chiles Center.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Jesuit's Audrey Kent drives into the key during the Crusaders' second round playoff win over Sherwood Saturday, March 5, at Jesuit High School.Jesuit has a way of making it look difficult. But despite the difficult nature of the Crusaders' 54-41 second round playoff win over Sherwood Saturday, March 5, at Jesuit High School, a win is a win, and with that win the Metro League runner-up advanced to the 6A state tournament March 10-12 at the Chiles Center in Portland.

"It was a fight and Sherwood brought it," Jesuit head coach Jason Lowery said. "It wasn't the cleanest game, but I always tell our girls that it's not a skills contest, it's a competition. And I think we competed."

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Sherwood's Laney Snelling puts up a contested shot during the Bowmen's second round playoff game against Jesuit Saturday, March 5, at Jesuit High School.The Crusaders were led by junior guard Emma Sixta who scored 12 of her 23 points at the free throw line. But also by sophomore post Kendra Hicks who tallied 15 points and nine rebounds despite being tasked with guarding the Pacific Conference's Player of the Year, Ava Heiden, who at 6-foot-4 is a load on both ends of the floor.

Hicks however didn't shy away from the challenge, and in fact relished the opportunity to face one of the state's best in the paint.

"I like going against someone who's very good," Hicks said. "I've played against her before, and it was just a fun battle."

Heiden wasted little time putting her stamp on the game, grabbing six rebounds in the game's first eight minutes. But after picking up her second foul in the first minute of the second quarter, the sophomore was forced to sit the remainder of the half, making life difficult on a Sherwood team prominently built around the standout post.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Jesuit's Carly Hicks dribbles into Sherwood defender Jaclyn Barritt during the two teams' second round playoff game Saturday, March 5, at Jesuit High School."Her not being in there is huge not only from an offensive standpoint, but from a defensive standpoint too," Sherwood head coach Lauren Howard said. "It definitely hurt us, but I think the girls who stepped up and played that second quarter did a good job getting us to the half."

Jesuit led 8-6 after a quarter and 22-14 at the half. The Bowmen cut the lead to seven on three different occasions early in the third quarter on baskets from Heiden, Sabrina Flowers and Sophia Carleton, but were dealt a hefty blow when the Crusaders scored seven straight points to end the quarter, including back-to-back threes by Sixta and Avery Edwards that put the home team ahead 37-23 heading to the final quarter.

The Bowmen tried mightily to cut into the lead to start the fourth, scoring six straight to close within 37-29 two minutes in. But Hicks stopped the proverbial bleeding with a pair of free throws and a three-point-play consecutively, and when a Sixta free throw made it 44-30 with three minutes remaining it was only a matter of time before Jesuit was moving on, while Sherwood's season came to an end.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Sherwood's Ava Heiden blocks Jesuit's Kendra Hicks during the two teams' second round playoff game Saturday, March 5, at Jesuit High School."I was just really excited," Hicks said in the wake of her team's win. "It's a big thing for our team and a big thing for our coaches too."

And what's her goal?

"We're looking to win," Hicks gleefully said. "We just have to keep pushing, keep working hard, keep focusing on our fundamentals and just compete every game."

Sixta agreed with her teammate regarding the work ahead, but also relished the accomplishment of making it to the state tournament.

"It means a lot," Sixta said. "We've been working really hard as a team and I feel like we've had a really good season, so to be able to get to the Chiles Center is a lot. It's a big thing."

Meanwhile, the mood was very different for Sherwood. But despite the loss and the end of what was a very successful season, Howard didn't lack superlatives for her team and what they were able to accomplish this year.

PMG PHOTO: WADE EVANSON - Jesuit's Emma Sixta takes a shot during the Crusaders' second round playoff win over Sherwood Saturday, March 5, at Jesuit High School."I thought we did a really great job tonight and executed and worked super hard," the Sherwood coach said. "There are no words for how proud I am. We faced a lot of adversity this year, but it prepared us not only for league but for the postseason. We were going to fight to the very end and that's exactly what we did, and I couldn't be more proud."

Jesuit scorers included: Sixta 23, Kendra Hicks 15, Edwards 11, Carly Hicks 2, Tessa Randall 2, Audrey Kent 1.

Sherwood scorers included: Heiden 15, Mandie Jensen 8, Snelling 4, Keeley McCaulley 4, Carleton 4, Sabrina Flowers 2, Barritt 2, Mckenna Rump 2.


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