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Junior guard hits three-quarter court shot, connects on four 3-pointers to lead Huskies to 12th straight win

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Spirits were high for Dani Christenson and the Huskies from the opening introduction, as North Marion won its 12th consecutive game of the season and built a two-game lead in the conference standings with four games left in the regular season.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Molalla junior Hannah Nelzen hit a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter and led the Indians with eight points.Some games the basket feels as if its a mile wide, other times it's as if its the size of a thimble. Such has been the case in North Marion's two league games against the Molalla Indians this season.

The No. 6 Huskies shot the lights out in a 60-31 victory over the visiting Indians on Friday, a sharp contrast to the previous game three weeks prior in which the two Tri-Valley rivals failed to reach 60 points combined.

"The first game was a disaster," North Marion head coach Trevor Bodine said, recalling the Huskies' 29-27 win at Molalla on Jan. 18. "We shot 11 percent in the first quarter and they shot 12.5 percent. It was 2-2, that's how bad that game was. It was brutal."

In contrast, North Marion needed just under 16 minute to eclipse that point total in the rematch when junior Carter Crawford hit a follow-up layup with 13 seconds left in the first half to put her team up 30-13.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion junior Mya Hammack celebrates with her teammates after sinking a 75-foot shot from near the Husky bench at the end of the second quarter against Molalla. Hammack finished with a game-high 21 points to lead the Huskies to a 60-31 win over the Indians.Junior teammate Mya Hammack followed with a three-quarter court heave from near her team's bench as time expired, which swished through the hoop to give the Huskies a 30-point heading into the locker room.

It was a microcosm of an ultra-efficient night for North Marion and Hammack, who needed just 11 shots to tally a game-high 21 points. The junior guard was 4-of-5 from 3-point range and perfect on five attempts at the free throw line, which seemed to be contagious up and down the Husky lineup.

"We had the most complete game we've played all year by far," Bodine said. "We never really worry about our defense, we're pretty solid. But when you combine it with the shooting we had and the free throws we actually made for once — when things are clicking and that's happening, you know you're having a good night."

On the other side of the court, the Indians were unable to match North Marion's aggressiveness on offense and quickly let the game get away from them after sophomore center Ruby Burge hit her second basket of the night to pull her team to within 7-6.

Burge picked up her second foul at the end of the quarter, and without the team's primary interior defender on the court, the Indians had difficulty pushing back against the Huskies' constant forays into the paint.

"They came in on fire," Molalla head coach Phil Wiesner said. "Then they make a couple of shots, things don't go our way a couple of times and then the mental piece of it gets worse for us and it gets better for them."

North Marion went on an 8-2 run to end the quarter and opened the second period with a 12-2 run, punctuated by back-to-back 3-pointers from Hammack and senior Katie Ensign.

The Huskies' hot-shooting spread to the free throw line as well, where the team hit its first nine foul shots to build a 27-11 lead with three minutes left in the half.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion senior Katie Ensign was 8-of-17 from the field with 17 points for the Huskies."It got contagious," Wiesner said. "They play great defense, they're very patient on offense and frustration starts to set in. I just felt that North Marion played with a lot of confidence tonight, and I thought we did the opposite; we didn't play with a lot of confidence."

Hammack's buzzer beater from the opposite 3-point line only added to the Huskies' confidence going into halftime — a shot she said is the longest she has made in a regulation game in her career.

"It just kind of happened," she said.

"We just knew that this was going to be a hard game, because last game was really close against them, and we shot horrible last game," Hammack added. "I think we mainly just wanted to improve off that, because we knew if that happened again, it was going to be a really hard game."

The two teams played a little more evently coming out of the break. Molalla junior Hannah Nelzen opened the quarter with a 3-pointer to spark a 6-0 run for the Indians and scored six of her team-high eight points in the quarter.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - North Marion sophomore Jaydan Sahlin pulls down a rebound in the Huskies' 60-31 win over Molalla on Friday.But North Marion was able to match the run with one of their own and kept the Indians at a 20-point deficit throughout the quarter, building their advantage to 50-25 at the end of the period courtesy of a pair of 3-pointers from Hammack and reserve wing Dani Christenson.

"I think it was just all focus," Hammack said. "We needed to focus on this or that, and it all just clicked together."

It was the first consecutive losses to league opponents this year for Molalla (11-9, 3-3 Tri-Valley), which fell out of the top 10 and into fourth place in the conference standings behind North Marion (14-6, 6-0), Madras (12-7, 4-2) and Gladstone (10-9, 4-2).

"All games you want to learn something from," Wiesner said. "There's a takeaway from it for us as a team and as individuals. We've got to figure out what the switch is because you're right in the hunt, you want to compete and you want to be ready."

The Huskies have now won 12 straight games and own a two-game lead in the race for the conference title with just four contests left in the regular season.

North Marion has a week between games to prepare for its rematch against Madras on Friday, Feb. 14. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m.

The Indians likewise have a one-week layoff between games when they host Estacada (0-18, 0-6) on Friday, Feb. 14 at 7 p.m.

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Molalla freshman guard Amy Wills looks to penetrate North Marion's defense in the opening half of play in Friday's Tri-Valley Conference game.

North Marion 60, Molalla 31
Tri-Valley Conference girls basketball

Team Score
North Marion

N. MARION 15 18 17 10 — 60

MOLALLA 8 5 12 6 — 31


North Marion (60) — Hammack 21, Ensign 17, Netter 6, Christenson 5, Patzer 4, Sahlin 4, Crawford 2 Dossey 1

Molalla (31) — Nelzen 8, Burge 7, Curry 7, Wood 4, Greer 3, Watson 2


North Marion — Hammack 4, Ensign 1, Christenson 1

Molalla — Nelzen 2


North Marion — 10/12

Molalla — 7/13

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