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Beavers, Skyhawk combine for summer

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge senior Bethany George picked up End of the Trail tournament honors for her efforts on both ends of the hardwood for Metro Elite.

The scene unfolding Tuesday afternoon might’ve made traditional Beaverton and Southridge basketball fans who bleed their school’s respective colors shudder a bit.

On the Oregon City High hardwood at the End of the Oregon Trail Tournament, Beaverton’s Mary Brocker moved the basketball to Southridge’s Kaley Fieldhouse, who fed it to former Beaver post Shaunta Jackson on the right block.

Anticipating a double team, Jackson kicked the rock to Southridge’s Bethany George, who squared up the triple and buried it to give Metro Elite a 12-point, second-half lead.

Take that preceding paragraph in again.

A Beaver passing to a Skyhawk, who goes back to a Beaverton pivot, who shuttles the basketball to another Southridge player.

Beavers and Skyhawks on the same team? Playing together in relative harmony? Are archrivals, who just months ago engaged in two free-for-all, go-for-broke brouhahas, really putting aside the bad blood for the summer in the name of basketball betterment?

Old school Metro fans, you better believe it.

For the second straight summer, a combination of Beavers and Skyhawks — most of whom either played integral roles on last year’s high school squads or are projected to make an impact this coming season — are teaming up for Metro Elite, an AAU team that travels together to tournaments and showcases aiming to enhance their individual games.

Joining forces

George was the only Skyhawk to play with a predominantly Beaverton squad last summer, and since some of the Beavers and Skyhawks’ starters play on different AAU squads, Southridge head coach Michael Bergmann and Beaverton Jay Ego decided to blend their remaining players into one unit.

George admitted the joining of forces was initially “a little awkward.” When Metro Elite first practiced together, Beaverton’s players warmed up on one side of the court while Southridge’s shot around on the other end, sizing up its heated adversary from across the way.

“We were a little leery of each other,” recalled Beaverton junior post Meghan Distifeno.

“At first, it was really weird trying to play with people you don’t like to play during the season,” said Fieldhouse. “But, we’ve become really good friends. We’re really close now. And, it’s been really good for us because we can come back next year better than we were.”

Even more so, with just one practice to adjust to each other, Metro Elite’s coaching staff was forced to split the rotation in half so Beavers would play solely with Beavers and ‘Hawks with ‘Hawks. However, the tension only lasted so long as Bergmann and Ego mixed and matched the foes to find favorable combinations. Rather than enforce one offense, the two veteran coaches have opened up the floor and let Metro Elite move, cut and pass without much restriction.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton sophomore Mary Brocker is one of many Beavers suiting up with stars from Southridge this summer on Metro Elite.

“We just played ball,” said George. “You see the strengths that (Beaverton) has and our strengths and then we just play. You go off of who’s going to do what. We’re just trying to improve, and we know that if we used their skills and join them with ours, then we can improve individually and as a group.”

“After the first practice it was ‘We’re not really Beaverton and Southridge. We’re just a team right now. We’re Metro Elite,’” said Distifeno.

The freedom not only spaced the floor, but it gave the peers a newfound perspective and appreciation for each other’s games. Jackson — who graduated from BHS in June and will play for Umpqua Community College this next season — said she was impressed with some of the Beavers’ young players such as Brocker and Maddie McKenna for stepping up to the challenge at EOT. And, the former all-Metro post was particularly appreciative of Southridge’s returners like George and point guard Makenna Bell.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge shooting guard Kaley Fieldhouse said she and her fellow Skyhawks have become friends with their usual Beaverton rivals.

“Next year, (Southridge) is going to give someone a good run,” said Jackson. “Especially Bethany. She’s a really good shooter. I’d advise all the teams to look out for her. Makenna is a really good hustler. She went after everything. She didn’t care how tall or fast you were. She was going to get after that ball. They really surprised me.”

The EOT is renowned throughout the country as one of the premier travel circuit tournaments, and offered the 11 Metro Elites an opportunity to sharpen their skills and possibly add a couple tools to the tool box. George had a stellar two days, playing strong defense on the perimeter and canning open threes on her way to an all-tournament team selection.

“Individually and skill-wise we’re getting better,” said George. “I feel like (Southridge) is already looking stronger and so next year should be really fun.”

“With all the club teams during the summer, it really pushes you to get better,” said Distifeno. “You get better as a team, but you also push yourself individually because it’s not during the season. Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to pass the ball out,’ you can drive the ball and take a chance.”

Once July ends, the Beavers and Skyhawks will divide their separate ways and go about ramping their team schemes and individual strengths with an eye looking toward the fall and winter. Metro play begins in January, of course, and when it kicks off, the feuding will be back and full-on.

“During the summer, we can put the rivalry aside, but back in season, we’ll definitely be playing hard against each other,” said Fieldhouse with a smile.



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