The Tualatin High School girls basketball team certainly has put together an achievement-filled season.
Well, on Feb. 26, the Timberwolves achieved something they haven't done in 13 years.
Tualatin was able to battle its way to a 48-38 win over rival Tigard in a Three Rivers League game played in front of a Senior Night crowd at Tualatin High School, giving the Wolves their first season sweep against the Tigers since the 2006-07 season.
"It's huge," said guard Sophie Bennett, who is one of just two seniors on the Tualatin roster. "We were talking in the locker room, and one of our freshman, Tabi Searle, was just one or two-years-old the last time that they swept. It's been a long time coming, so we're pretty stoked about this win."
"It's a huge win," said Tualatin junior Sidney Dering. "We haven't beat Tigard twice in a league series since 2006, or something like that, so it's huge. We wanted it bad, and it's part of a rivalry that we grew up with, in the Tigard-Tualatin School District. We wanted it bad tonight, and we came to play."
With the win, Tualatin improved to 8-5 in TRL play (17-6 overall), putting the Wolves in third place in the league standings.
"It was a good game," Bennett said. "We've definitely been grinding all season to this point, and I'm proud of how far we've come."
"We know it's a rivalry, and that they're coming with the same energy, but it was nice to come out and put them away," Dering said. "They're a great team. They've had a little bit of a different season this year, but they're still a good team, no matter the wins and losses."
Tigard, which played the game without standout senior guard Kennedy Brown, who missed the contest due to an ankle injury, moved to 4-9 in TRL games (5-18 overall), leaving the Tigers in seventh place in the league standings.
"I think we worked hard, especially in the beginning," said Tigard sophomore post Sarah Lamet, who led the Tigers with 14 points in the contest. "We did want it, but we just weren't in sync the last little bit."
Bennett, the only senior who played for the Wolves on their Senior Night, as Sophie Wong missed the game due to injury, got the start and seemed to provide a spark throughout the contest.
"I didn't play last year, so, coming back this year was really special for me," Bennett said. "These girls are such a great group, and I have a lot of love for them. I really appreciate them."
"Those seniors, it's tough not having Sophie Wong out there, with her knee, but Benny (Bennett) is always giving energy, whether that's on the bench, or on the court, or at a team dinner, she's always a spark," Dering said. "And it's great to have her back on our team after last year."
Tigard, also fired up, got off to a fast start in Wednesday's game. Lamet sank a pair of baskets, and senior Delaney Leavitt connected on a 3-point basket, coming off an assist from Lamet, to give the Tigers a 7-2 lead with 5 minutes and 47 seconds left to play in the first quarter.
Tualatin fought back, getting a 3-pointer by junior Aurora Davis and a 3-point play from senior post Natalie Lathrop, tying the game at 9-9 with 2:49 left in the opening period.
Tigard came back, getting another basket by Lamet, off a pass from freshman Hailey Shimojima, and a pair of free throws by freshman Karen Spadafora, took a 13-12 lead to the second quarter.
The Wolves came roaring back to start the second period. Junior guard Teagan Gaviola opened the quarter with a steal and layup, and junior Kasidy Javernick followed with a 3-pointer from the right wing, giving Tualatin a 17-13 lead with 7:27 remaining in the quarter. The Wolves wouldn't trail the rest of the way.
Javernick added another 3-pointer later in the period, and Lathrop scored six points in the final 5:33 of the quarter, helping the Wolves open a 31-22 halftime lead.
Tualatin kept rolling early in the third quarter, opening the period with back-to-back hoops from Lathrop and Dering, making the score 35-22 with 6:08 left in the quarter.
Tigard answered back. Lamet scored four straight points, and senior Emily Paulson added a free throw, helping the Tigers trim the margin to 35-27 with 2:38 left in the period.
Tualatin, with Dering going 4 for 4 from the free throw line in the final 2:15 of the period, as well as assisting on a layup by Lathrop, upped the margin to 41-29 going into the fourth quarter.
Persistent Tigard tried to fight back again in the final stanza. Baskets by Spadafora, Shimojima and Lamet helped the Tigers cut the gap to 43-35 with 5:52 left to play in the contest.
Neither team was able to score in the next four minutes. Bennett was fouled with 1:52 left to play in the game. She missed the free throw on the front end of a one-and-one bonus situation, but she was able to grab the rebound. Bennett was fouled again right away. This time, she made the first shot, but missed the second. But, once again, the 5-foot-3 Bennett was able to grab the rebound off her own missed foul shot, allowing the Wolves to eat some valuable time off the clock.
"I just try my best," Bennett said. "Lately, we've been working a lot on rebounding, so that was what was kind of going through my mind. We have just a few games left in the season, and I wanted to grind it out, and do as well as I could."
Tigard did get close, at 44-38, after junior Ajae Holdman converted a 3-point play with 1:06 remaining in the game. But Javernick made a free throw, and Bennett went 3 for 4 from the foul line in the final 48.1 seconds of the game, helping the Wolves close out the 48-38 victory.
"This was a blast," Dering said. "It's always fun to be out there together. It's a big game, it's a doubleheader on Senior Night, at home against Tigard. We were excited for this one."
"This was so much fun, and I love these girls so much," Bennett said. "It's been a really fun season."
Lathrop led all scorers in the contest with 18 points. She also had 11 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Dering had eight points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. Javernick had eight points, five steals and four rebounds. Bennett and Davis each scored six points.
Tualatin, as a team, made 16 of 45 shots from the field, with four 3-pointers, and 12 of 22 free-throw attempts.
Lamet, battling against Lathrop throughout the contest, had 14 points, five rebounds and two assists.
"I have a lot of fun playing against her," Lamet said.
Spadafora scored 10 points off the bench.
"Karen did so good," Lamet said.
Holdman had five points to go with 11 rebounds. Shimojima scored four points, and Leavitt had three.
Tigard, as a team, made 16 of 41 shots from the field, with one 3-pointer, and five of nine free-throw attempts.
"We've always come out, and wanted it, and we've played hard, but we haven't found our in-sync with each other," Lamet said.
Both teams will finish their regular-season schedule on Friday. Tigard will host Oregon City at 5:45 p.m. Tualatin will play at Lakeridge at 7 p.m.
The Class 6A state playoffs will start on Tuesday, with first-round games. Tualatin will likely be hosting a first-round contest.
"We're going to come out ready to play," Dering said. "We're looking to put that one (Lakeridge) away, and then focus on what's ahead. We're getting ready for the playoffs. We're stoked and looking to go far."
"We're ready for it," Bennett said.
Tigard, which is trying to secure one of the final state playoff spots, would be on the road Tuesday if it qualifies.
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