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The Cougars defeated 3A Yamhill-Carlton 60-42 to extend their winning streak to five.

The Gervais girls basketball team has continued to carve out its place among the top teams at 2A by battling against schools of all sizes. The Cougars most recently bested 3A foe Yamhill-Carlton 60-42 on Friday, Dec. 17.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Gervais sophomore Olivia Boyd brings the ball up across half court in the teams 60-42 win over the Yamhill-Carlton Tigers.

The contest against the Tigers marks the fourth game in eight that Gervais has faced an opponent outside the 2A classification. The Cougars are 2-2 in those inter-classification matchups; Gervais came up short against 3A Willamina and 1A Country Christian, but found victories against 4A Valley Catholic and 3A Yamhill-Carlton. It's not the last time they'll compete against larger schools; Gervais faces 4A Banks (2-2) on Tuesday, Dec. 21, and squares up against 6A North Medford (2-3) in the opening round of the Crusader Classic tournament hosted by Salem Academy on Thursday, Dec. 30.

Gervais head coach Kyle Buse didn't have a hand in creating the schedule, but isn't opposed to the variety of schools his team has faced.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Gervais junior Sofia Contreras drives to the basket against a Yamhill-Carlton defender.

"I did not set it up, but I am absolutely OK with what we've had," Buse said after the Yamhill-Carlton game. "That's all on our AD to set up the schedule, but I think that it has given us a wide range of talented teams that we've been able to be tested by. I have been very happy with what that schedule has looked like."

The tests have been important for a team that graduated a strong senior class after reaching the pinnacle of 2A hoops last year. Gervais is looking to boost the skill set and chemistry of the returning varsity squad.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Gervais junior Josie Schultz pulls up from midrange for a 2-point bucket.

Against Yamhill-Carlton, Gervais showed quite a bit to like. The Cougars began the game by outscoring the Tigers 32-17 in the first half, including a 15-3 first quarter. The team was well-rounded on offense, notching 10 field goals in the first 16 minutes, including a pair of Olivia Boyd 3-pointers to start the game.

On defense, the team smothered Yamhill-Carlton, harassing the shooters and allowing nearly no uncontested looks at the rim.

PMG PHOTO: TANNER RUSS - Gervais senior Mayra Perez drives to the basket in the teams win over Yamhill-Carlton.

The second half was a tougher out for Gervais. While the Cougars kept up their scoring output, the home team was able to gain ground on occasion and keep them honest. The 60-42 victory showed Buse that his team knows when to buckle down.

"This was a good win on the road for us," Buse said. "Like I told them in the locker room, we just needed to clean up a few things. A few too many turnovers … Yamhill definitely forced those on us. We definitely got sloppy at times, but I think it was more of … our girls had control. They knew that once it got into that 12-15 range, they needed to tighten things up. That was what I was impressed with, that they played that way a majority of the game."

Gervais sophomore Ava Sellers led the team in scoring with 15 points, followed by Olivia Boyd with 13, and Josie Schultz with 10.

The team still has a handful of non-league games left to play before clashing with the best of the Tri-River Conference, Banks High first and foremost. One of the things Buse wants to see his team improve on in these preseason games is efficiency.

"We're making the right passes to the right shots, passing up good shots for great shots, and we're still struggling with that a little bit," Buses said. "I definitely saw it tonight though, ball movement around, we got a good shot from our freshman tonight, Addy (McCargar). We continue to preach efficiency, and it kind of rubs off on them to kind of understand that if we're going to run fast and push the ball that we have to finish."

Gervais and Banks face off on Tuesday, Dec. 21.

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