Sharpshooting North Marion girls take down Valley Catholic 53-45
January keeps on looking brighter and brighter for the North Marion girls basketball team.
The Huskies won their fifth-straight game of 2020, using a second-half surge from beyond the arc to down the visiting Valley Catholic Valiants 53-45 on Tuesday, Jan. 14.
North Marion put on a shooting clinic in the second half against the Valiants, connecting on 6-of-9 3-pointers in the third quarter to pull away in their first home game of the new year. Senior wing Katie Ensign accounted for half of the Huskies' three-pointers in the third quarter and was 5-of-10 from deep, finishing with a game-high 21 points to lead her team.
"That was a good win," North Marion head coach Trevor Bodine said. "We played obviously better in the second half."
The Huskies rallied from a slow start against Valley Catholic. North Marion hit just 6-of-25 shots in the first half — 24% — and had trouble generating uncontested looks against a Valiant team that was ranked No. 8 coming into the contest.
"They had a nice extended zone, and we were just kind of content to pass it around the perimeter instead of attacking," Bodine said. "We talked about it at halftime, we've got to penetrate the gaps and make them shift a little bit, and then we'll get open shots."The plan worked.
After scoring 21 points in the first half, the Huskies erupted for 20 points in the third quarter, scoring all but one of their baskets from 3-point range. Ensign was 3-of-4 from long range in the quarter, while junior guard Mya Hammack was 2-of-2 and sophomore wing Jaydan Sahlin connected on her lone shot from 3.
It was a marked turnaround for the Huskies, who finished 6-of-11 from 3-point range in the second half, compared to 4-of-14 in the first half.
"We shoot lights out in practice. They're good shooters," Bodine said, contrasting the third quarter with the lackluster first half. "I think they just get sped up a little bit. They worry about the scoreboard, they worry about the crowd.
"I just told them to shoot like they do in practice — just stroke it — and they did in the second half."
It was all North Marion could do to stay in front of the Valiants, who responded to nearly every Husky bucket with one of their own. Valley Catholic held a 31-27 advantage midway through the period before the Huskies opened the floodgates.
Hammack connected on a deep ball to start the run, followed by a three from Sahlin. The Valiants responded after each North Marion basket, but the Huskies were able to generate a little breathing room after Ensign went on an 8-2 run of her own in the final two minutes and change, hitting a pair of threes and finishing the quarter with a perfect trip to the line.
The Huskies finished the game 10-of-12 from the charity stripe, a marked improvement for a team that has struggled with making consistent foul shots this season.
"We actually shot free throws pretty well tonight, because we had been shooting around 55-57 percent," Bodine said.
Both teams slowed down in the fourth quarter. Valley Catholic went on a 6-2 run early in the period to cut their deficit to 45-43 at the halfway point of the fourth, but the Huskies stopped the run there. A put back lay-in from reserve post Carter Crawford sparked an 8-0 run that carries the Huskies to the final ticks of the clock.
In addition to Ensign's big night, Hammack added 15 while sophomore guard Megan Netter scored eight.
Valley Catholic's leading scorer, junior guard Josie Napoli, was held to just 12 points on the night after struggling with foul trouble in the first half. Junior post Lauren Snook added 11 for the Valiants.
"(Napoli) hit a couple threes and got loose a couple of times, but if you can hold her (near) single figures, you're doing a good job — she's a good player," Bodine said. "I'm proud of the defensive effort."
The win put North Marion (7-6) above .500 for the first time since the team was 1-0 and bumped the Huskies to No. 9 in the OSAA rankings. The team had lost six of seven games coming into 2020, but has gone unbeaten in January, holding opponents to just under 30 points per game.
"I think they got a little wakeup call and realized that we have to get to a certain number so we're not going on the road to play a play-in game against a really good team," Bodine said. "We're trying to get our ranking up a little bit."
North Marion returns to the road on Friday when they play Seaside (6-6). Tip off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The Huskies open league play next week, traveling to No. 6 Madras (8-5) on Tuesday, Jan. 21 and No. 8 Molalla (7-6) on Friday, Jan. 24.
"(They're) both very good teams, just like Valley was, and I'd be happy with a split," Bodine said.
North Marion 53, Valley Catholic 45
North Marion — 9 12 20 12
Valley Catholic — 12 9 16 8
North Marion — Ensign 21, Hammack 15, Netter 8, Crawford 4, Sahlin 3, Patzer 2
Valley Catholic — Napoli 12, Snook 11, Wilder 6, Goodno 6, Kinder 5, Trecker 5
North Marion — Ensign 5, Hammack 3, Sahlin 1, Netter 1
Valley Catholic — Wilder 2, Napoli 1
North Marion — 12/14
Valley Catholic — 8/13
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