Girls basketball: Huskies program continues to win with defense
North Marion gets out to 26-0 start in win over Regis
The North Marion girls basketball team's offense needed a kick in the pants entering the final game of three straight contests last week. The team got one, courtesy of its defense in a 64-51 victory over the Regis Rams on Dec. 21.
Led by junior post Hannah Kinniburgh and sophomore wing Emily Scanlan, the Huskies built a 26-0 lead in the first quarter over Regis to cruise to a win that was much more one-sided than the final score indicated.
The team's hard-nosed defensive pressure, which has become a staple of Husky girls basketball under new head coach Trevor Bodine, harassed Regis throughout the game as the Rams turned the ball over more than 20 times in the loss.
Following the conclusion of the game, Scanlan was unofficially credited with 11 steals, which would tie the school record held North Marion Hall of Famer Kelsie Kahle. The team will look at tape of the game later this season to confirm the total, but Scanlan was excited to be in the conversation with one of the Huskies' all-time great players.
"I've always kept up with the records for track and basketball," Scanlan said. "It's exciting; I'm hoping I can break it."
Scanlan and junior teammate Ally Umbenhower pressed the Rams into countless turnovers in the first quarter, leading to an insurmountable lead after less than eight minutes of play. Kinniburgh was often at the receiving end of the offensive plays that generated from the team's defense, scoring 11 points in the first quarter to finish with a game-high 22 points, nine rebounds and two blocks.
For her part, Scanlan added nine points in the first quarter and finished with 15 total.
"She played out of her mind tonight," Bodine said. "We played really good defense in the first and second quarters. Our press and our half court matchup looked really good."
Regis recovered somewhat after the slow start, going on a 12-2 run after North Marion's initial barrage, but the damage was done. Bodine turned to much of his bench in the second half, giving big minutes to young reserves like Katie Ensign and Paige Martin to hold down the lead after the big start.
"Our defense has been setting the tone all year," Bodine said. "That's what's been keeping us in games and having leads, it's been our defense. Tonight we got the added benefit of the ball actually going in for once, which was nice."
Umbenhower led the team with seven assists and added five points and four steals, while post Lindy Wing added eight points and four rebounds.
The win was North Marion's fourth in a row and third in three days, as the Huskies scrambled to add games to the schedule after the cancellation of the team's annual holiday tournament due to inclement weather.
"That was all mental tonight," Bodine said. "We talked a lot about energy in the locker room before the game and they came out like gangbusters."
Bodine downplayed the effect of playing three straight games, saying any fatigue was more psychological than physical.
"We played more games in a row than that in the summer in 104-degree heat in our gym, so we're used to physically playing that much," Bodine said. "It's just the mental hurdle. These games mean something and the summer league games don't mean anything. You start attaching a scoreboard to things and mentally it's different. The girls did a good job of overcoming that."
North Marion defeated Crook County 43-22 at home on Dec. 20 and beat No. 5 Marshfield 44-40 on Dec. 19. The team's lone loss of the season, a 49-42 defeat at No. 1 Valley Catholic, came as a result of failing to convert turnovers into points on the offensive end.
"The game against Valley Catholic we missed three or four wide open lay-ins with nobody around us and tonight we didn't have that," Bodine said. "We got the ball to go in. Good ball movement, good spacing — it all finally clicked."
Against Crook County, Umbenhower led the Huskies with 10 points, followed by nine from reserve guard Sonia Jimenez, eight from Kinniburgh and seven from Scanlan.
Umbenhower also was the team's leading scorer the night before with 15 points against Marshfield. Wing and Kinniburgh added eight each, while Scanlan chipped in seven in the victory.
"Again, our defense was outstanding against Marshfield," Bodine said. "We didn't make a whole lot of hoops, but defense was good and that's what kept us in against another good team."
While the team's defense had been impressive in the first three weeks of the season, holding opponents to 36.6 points per game — the sixth-best mark in the state — it hadn't directly translated into points until the win at Regis.
"When we get going, I feel like we start to get on fire," Scanlan said. "We start to really click when we mesh as a team. We have a lot of different types of skill and body types — we have inside, outside game and when we start to figure that out, I think we get off to a good start."
North Marion (5-1) jumped into the top 10 in the OSAA rankings for the first time this season with the victories and looks to continue the streak this week at the Vince Dulcich Memorial Tournament hosted by Astoria High School.
The No. 10 Huskies were scheduled to play 5A No. 6 Sandy (5-1) to open the tournament, followed by games on Wednesday and Thursday to close out the week.