Cougars' defense paid dividends in post season victory
AURORA-Right from the jump, the Gervais girls' basketball team proved there are levels in the game. The Cougars dominated the Gold Beach Panthers (11-4) to improve their unbeaten record to nine straight victories with a 63-12 win on June 21. North Marion High School played host to the contest in the first round of the 2A state showcase tournament.
The biggest difference between the teams was defense. Gervais swarmed Gold Beach often and early, only giving up nine points in the first half. Steals, blocks, and tipped passes kept the Panthers from establishing any form of offense whatsoever.
"We have daily defensive drills, and the girls buy into them," Gervais head coach Kyle Buse said after the game. "It's probably the worst time of practice, no one wants to put in the extra time to play defense. But they've bought in over the last couple years, if they work in that time at practice it makes the game so much easier. I think they saw that tonight. They were like, 'Oh my gosh we held them to 12 points.'"
That stringent defense allowed just three points in the second half, and Gold Beach was visibly frustrated by the time the horn sounded.
On the offensive end of the ball, the points were spread out evenly amongst the team. Senior Araceli Vasquez went off in the first half, notching 14 points in the first two stanzas including a pair of buckets from beyond the arc. She led all scorers, and fellow senior Lilly Welburn was close behind with 11 points of her own. Only one Gervais player failed to register a point in the game, and it's that even scoring Buse feels gives his team the edge.
"It's not a 'one person is going to get 20 points a night.' We're going to spread it out," Buse said. "It makes us a lot harder to scout. They don't know who they need to shut down, they don't know who they need to stop. We knew, on Gold Beach, that (junior Kailina Hamilton) is the engine that drove them. We were able to focus in on them. I'd like to think that our team has multiple weapons and it's harder to scout us."
After the game Gervais awarded some of its players with the Tri-River Conference awards, with Vasquez taking Tri-River Conference Player of the Year in addition to a first team all-league nod. Senior Katie Hanson also made first team all-league. Welburn was awarded second team all-league honors, and senior Isabel Contreras and sophomore Izzy Boyd took home third team all-league honors.
The Cougars (9-0) advance to the quarterfinals against Heppner (9-1) Wednesday. The winner will move on to the final four trophy matches at Ridgeview High School on Friday and Saturday.
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