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Rex Putnam coeds make it 10 in a row

They put three more games in the win column, including a 39-37 barnburner with their rivals


The Rex Putnam Kingsmen last week continued on track for their best girls basketball season in three decades, improving their record in Northwest Oregon Conference play to 10-0 with wins over cross-town rival Milwaukie (39-37), Parkrose (75-40) and Wilsonville (58-43).

“The girls want to go undefeated in league, not so much because it may be the first time in school history, but because they want to make sure they get the best seed possible in the state playoffs,” said Putnam coach Kris Leatherman. “Our league is so weak that we have to win out to get a good seed. We could end up playing [defending state champion] Willamette in the playoffs if we don’t win out.”

Entering play this week, the Kingsmen (12-7, 10-0) were ranked 16th in the OSAA Class 5A RPI rankings, with league games remaining with Sandy (10-9, 5-5), St. Helens (1-17, 1-9), Liberty (8-12, 6-4) and Wilsonville (7-12, 4-6).

“I feel good about our chances of going undefeated [in league],” said Leatherman. “You can see by our stats in our last two games [Parkrose and Wilsonville], we’re starting to make shots.”

Defense has been the Kingsmen’s strength all season. It’s gained them a lot more shots than their opponents, but through much of the season they’ve struggled to get those shots to drop.

In last week’s game with Wilsonville, Putnam cashed in on 24-of-55 shots (44 percent) from the floor; in the game with Parkrose, they made 28-of-64 attempts (also 44 percent).

The Kingsmen have also been dominant on the backboards, claiming 48 rebounds (18 offensive) at Wilsonville and 45 in the Parkrose game.

Senior wing Kelsea Baton had a huge night in Saturday’s game at Wilsonville, scoring a game-high 19 points on 8-for-13 shooting, assisting on six baskets, claiming seven rebounds and stealing the sphere four times.

Putnam was nursing only a 26-22 lead at halftime, but Baton led the charge in the second half, scoring 13 points, to help break the game open.

While Baton was doing the job on short jumpers, freshman post Haley Brandel and sophomore post Angela Arrington were dominating the play on the inside. Brandel had 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots; Arrington had 11 rebounds, three blocked shots and seven points.

Putnam playmaking guard Mariah Oliver was also tough, assisting on seven baskets, scoring eight points and stealing the ball five times.

Playing in front of a large, supportive crowd on Friday, they Kingsmen put the Parkrose game away in the first period, when they outscored the visiting Broncs 21-4.

“We just overwhelmed them,” said Leatherman.

Oliver (14 points, 5 assists), Brandel (13 points, 10 rebounds), Ali Schooley (11 points, 10 assists), Carly Bolander (9 points, 9 rebounds) and Baton (8 points, 4 steals) led the charge in a team effort that saw 11 Putnam players score.

Oliver was 7-of-10 from the field. Schooley made 6-of-6 free throws and Putnam’s team was 16-of-23 from the charity stripe.

Cold shooting nearly cost the Kingsmen in a Feb. 11 game with Milwaukie. Rallying around the sharp outside shooting of Alexis Mulford, the upstart Mustangs nearly pulled off an upset.

Mulford scored a team-high 15 points, hitting five of seven attempts on 3-pointers.

Meanwhile, the Kingsmen struggled to find the basket, making only 30 percent (15-of-50) of their shots from the floor. Putnam offensive leader Mariah Oliver was 0-for-7 from the field and she went scoreless for the first time this season. The 5-5 senior point guard entered the contest averaging 12.5 points.

“Hopefully this is a wakeup call,” Leatherman said, following the game. “The girls need to shoot the ball better and be more mentally prepared. They also struggled at the free throw line.”

The Kingsmen were awarded 20 charity tosses and made nine of them.

Putnam led 21-11 at halftime. But, rallying around Alexis Mulford’s sharp outside shooting, Milwaukie rallied back.

Milwaukie senior point guard Karissa Delaunay, who had struggled all night, hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:25 to play that tied the game for the first time since the first quarter, at 35-35.

Putnam senior guard Ali Schooley drove the baseline for a lay-up to put Putnam back on top, at 37-35, with 50 seconds remaining.

Arrington followed with the defensive play of the game, taking a charge as Delaunay drove the lane.

Baton found the basket on a mid-range jumper with 25 seconds left, which would prove enough to gain the Kingsmen the victory.

Skyler Hampton made a lay-up for Milwaukie with 14 seconds remaining to trim Putnam’s lead to 39-37.

And the Mustangs got renewed hope when they forced a travel on Putnam’s ensuing possession.

But Schooley stole an errant pass on Milwaukie’s final possession, and the Kingsmen held on for the 39-37 victory.

Arrington had a career night for the Kingsmen in the victory. The 5-11 sophomore scored a game-high 17 points, hitting 5-of-9 shots from the floor and 7-of-9 free throws. She also claimed 12 rebounds — eight at the offensive end, rejected four shots and had two steals.

Brandel claimed eight rebounds as she and Arrington led the Kingsmen to an advantage on the backboards.

Schooley had three steals, as the Kingsmen forced 18 turnovers, while committing only seven turnovers.

Merrily Jones had 10 points in the losing effort. Julia Rivers claimed a team-high nine rebounds.

The contest was pretty-much a half-court game, with the normally hard-pressing Kingsmen electing not to press most of the night.

Putnam hosts St. Helens this Thursday. The Kingsmen close out their league season next week, playing at Liberty on Tuesday and hosting Wilsonville on Friday, Feb. 28.




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