Beaverton girls tip Tigard in thriller
BEAVERTON — The calendar says that it's still only December.
That said, Friday's Class 6A girls basketball showdown at Beaverton had all the feel of a March state tournament showdown.
The intensity and atmosphere certainly were at high-level proportions. And, for the Beavers, a thrilling hard-fought, last-second, back-and-forth victory certainly had a tournament aspect.
Beaverton, with junior post Sydney Erikstrup sinking the winning basket with just 13 seconds left to play, scored a 41-40 win over top-ranked Tigard in a non-league contest played at Beaverton High School.
"It's huge," Erikstrup said during the Beavers' postgame celebration. "This whole week, we knew they were ranked No. 1. We were just working super hard as a team. We knew it was going to be a gutsy game."
"This was awesome. It's fun winning big games," said Beaverton sophomore guard Mackenzie Naro, who sank three key 3-point baskets in the second half. "It was back and forth each way. It was a little ugly, but it was a good battle. There were a lot of missed shots, and a lot of mistakes, but we came out with the win, so it was fun."
With the win, Beaverton improved to 3-2 on the season to that point.
"It was awesome out there," Erikstrup said. "Our crowd is the best fans in the Metro League, and our whole community came out for something like this. It was really fun for all of us."
"Tigard is awesome," Naro said. "We like the girls on the team, they were really nice. We were excited to come out and play them after we heard that they beat (two-time defending state champion) Southridge (54-50 on Dec. 7)."
Tigard moved to 5-1 on the season with the setback.
"It was pretty intense," Tigard junior guard Kennedy Brown said. "We know that our schedule is pretty hard, and Beaverton is no team to joke about. We knew, coming in here at Beaverton, that it was going to be a good game."
"We were all really excited to come out here and play Beaverton, especially after Southridge," Tigard senior post Dani Lyons said. "But we came in knowing that it was going to be tough and that it was going to be a battle."
The fired-up Beaverton squad got off to a fast start in Friday's game. Getting a pair of 3-pointers by Sydney Erikstrup, and layups by sophomore Alexa Borter and junior Laura Erikstrup, the Beavers sprinted to a 10-0 lead with 3 minutes and 51 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
"It was just mentality," Lyons said. "We were missing a spark in the beginning, and Beaverton came out strong."
Beaverton went on to hold a 13-2 lead at the end of the opening period, but Tigard came back strong in the second quarter.
Brown and Lyons each sank 3-pointers to get the Tigers within one, at 16-15. Tigard would tie the game, at 20-20, on a free throw by Lyons with 41.6 seconds left in the period. Tigard senior guard Campbell Gray, who scored 11 points in the quarter, then connected on a 3-point basket with 16 seconds remaining in the period, giving the Tigers a 23-20 lead that they would take to halftime.
Beaverton would regain the lead, at 30-28, on Naro's second 3-point basket of the third quarter, coming with 3:46 left in the period. The Beavers, getting a pair of baskets by junior guard Mary Kay Naro and a jumper by Sydney Erickstrup, would push the margin to 36-32 with 26 seconds left in the quarter. But Tigard, getting a 3-pointer by Gray with 4 seconds left in the period, trimmed the lead to 36-35 going into the fourth quarter.
That's when things really got intense.
Another Gray 3-point basket gave Tigard a 38-36 lead with 5:19 remaining. Beaverton answered with Mackenzie Naro's third 3-pointer of the second half, giving the home team a 39-38 advantage with 4:57 remaining.
"I've been off the last couple of games, so it felt really good to make some shots," Mackenzie Naro said with a smile.
Tigard took back the lead, at 40-39, when junior Delany Leavitt went 2 for 2 from the free-throw line with 4:37 left to play. Then, with both defenses stepping up, the score remained at 40-39 going into the final minute of play.
Brown grabbed the rebound on a Beaverton missed 3-point attempt with 30 seconds to play. But the Tigers missed the front end of a one-and-one free-throw situation with 26.2 seconds remaining, with Sydney Erikstrup grabbing the rebound.
Following a timeout, Beaverton set up a play for Sydney Erikstrup, and, with 13 seconds remaining, she sank a turnaround jumper from 13 feet away, giving the Beavers a 41-40 lead.
"That was amazing," Mackenzie Naro said. "She works on that shot all the time, over and over again. We talked about it during the timeout. We said 'we're hitting Sydney inside, and she's going to make it.'"
"I didn't think about it — I just trusted it. It felt really good," Sydney Erikstrup said. "We talked about it in the huddle, and (Mary) Kay read it and made the right pass to me. We have some of the best players in the state. Laura, and Kay, and our whole team. Everyone does so many things."
Tigard, looking to answer back with some heroics of its own, got the ball to Gray, but the standout guard, as she was looking to take a last-second shot, was swarmed by Beaverton defenders, including Sydney Erikstrup, who was able to deflect the shot right before the final horn sounded — igniting the Beavers' victory celebration.
"Credit to Campbell. She's a great player," Erikstrup said. "We knew she would try to shoot it, so we just tried to switch it, and make sure she didn't have any room to shoot."
Sydney Erikstrup led the Beavers with 14 points in the victory. She also had 12 rebounds and three blocked shots.
"We started off strong, and then we fell short a bit, and we knew we had to battle," she said. "But we pulled through. We especially owe this to (Beaverton coach) Kathy (Naro), because at the end of practices we work on end-of-the-game situations."
Laura Erikstrup had 12 points to go with six rebounds and two assists. Mackenzie Naro scored nine points and Mary Kay Naro had four.
Beaverton, as a team, made 17 of 45 shots from the field, with six 3-pointers, and one of two free-throw attempts.
Gray led all scorers in the game with 22 points. She also had five rebounds. Lyons scored eight points. Brown had six points and two steals.
Tigard, as a team, made 12 of 34 shots from the field, with five 3-pointers, and 11 of 18 free-throw attempts.
"We had some decision-making errors," Lyons said. "It's still early in the season, so we'll work on it. We're still trying to gel as a team and get used to everybody's role."
"We played a good team," Brown said. "We just need to come out next game ready to win and play hard. We're fine, we'll be good."
The Tigers will be back in action on Tuesday, when they host Grant in a non-league game starting at 7 p.m. at Tigard High School. Beaverton will next play on Wednesday, when it opens play at the Nike Tournament of Champions, being held in Phoenix, Ariz.