Girls basketball: North Marion beats Cascade 54-52 on senior night
After serving as the Cascade's punching bag for the past four years, the No. 10 North Marion girls basketball team got their parting shot against the No. 3 Cougars on Tuesday night, winning 54-52 on senior night to finish the regular season on a high note.
Since the Huskies (16-8, 6-4 Oregon West) joined the Oregon West Conference four years ago, the Cougars (17-6, 8-2) have been the undisputed queens of the court, winning four conference titles while compiling a 38-2 record against league rivals.
North Marion had dropped eight consecutive games to Cascade in that span of time, and the Huskies are set to move back to the Tri-Valley Conference next season while the Cougars are moving up to the 5A Classification.
With no guarantee the two teams will meet up in this year's state playoffs, Tuesday's regular season finale was the last guaranteed chance for North Marion to prove they could hang with the perennial 4A power.
But the Huskies had even more reason to win than just pride. While the team had already secured a berth to the play-in round of the postseason, North Marion entered the contest fourth in the conference standings. The team needed a victory to leap over Newport for third place to avoid opening the play-ins on the road.
Although the Cougars had little to play for after wrapping up their fourth straight league title the week before, that didn't stop Cascade from playing its starters for the entirety of the game, giving the North Marion gymnasium the charged atmosphere of a playoff contest.
The two teams didn't disappoint. After the Cougars took an opening 4-0 lead, the Huskies responded with a 16-2 run that included four consecutive 3-pointers from seniors Ally Umbenhower, Hannah Kinniburgh and Lindy Wing.
North Marion expanded its lead to 20-9 by the end of the quarter and kept Cascade at a double-digit deficit for the remainder of the half. But the Cougars came storming back in the third quarter to cut the Huskies' lead to 37-35 heading into the fourth.
The two teams traded shots throughout the final eight minutes, but North Marion continued to stay just ahead until Cascade senior Halle Wright scored five straight points in a 45-second span to tie the game at 52-52 with 30 seconds left.
And while the Huskies opened the game celebrating the career contributions of seniors Umbenhower, Kinniburgh, Wing, Emily Lucas and Juana Aguilera, it fell on the shoulders of sophomore Katie Ensign to deliver the victory in the tense final seconds.
After Umbenhower attempted a potential game-winning shot with seven seconds left that missed the mark, Ensign grabbed the rebound in traffic and was fouled on her follow-up attempt. Despite back-to-back timeouts from the Cascade bench, the second-year wing calmly made both shots to put the Huskies back on top and deliver the win.
Ensign finished the game with 10 points, while Umbenhower led the Huskies with 17, followed by 14 from Kinniburgh. Wright led the Cougars with 28 points.
With third place wrapped up, North Marion can now turn its attention to the play-in round, where the team will host the South Umpqua Lancers (10-13, 4-6 Far West League) on Saturday at 3 p.m.
A victory over the Lancers would propel the Huskies back to the first round of the state playoffs for the third straight year, where they would travel to a to-be-determined opponent on March 2.
The Cascade girls basketball team has been North Marion's toughest opponent since the Huskies joined the Oregon West Conference in 2015.
|North Marion 54, Cascade 52 - Feb. 20, 2018|
|Cascade 58, North Marion 50 - Jan. 31, 2018|
|Cascade 41, North Marion 33 - March 11, 2017|
|Cascade 53, North Marion 37 - Feb. 21, 2017|
|Cascade 44, North Marion 41 - Jan. 31, 2017|
|Cascade 65, North Marion 50 - Feb. 23, 2016|
|Cascade 49, North Marion 36 - Feb. 2, 2016|
|Cascade 66, North Marion 33 - Feb. 24, 2015|
|Cascade 56, North Marion 30 - Feb. 3, 2015|