Kingsmen clinch first title in three decades
With a pair of wins this week, Putnam would finish undefeated in NWOC league play
Rex Putnams girls basketball team last week continued on track for one of its best seasons in school history, pushing its Northwest Oregon Conference league record to 12-0 with wins over Sandy (32-21) and St. Helens (60-39).
The Kingsmen were to conclude the season this week, playing Liberty (8-14, 6-6) on the road on Tuesday (Feb. 25) and hosting Wilsonville (9-12, 6-6) on Friday.
Theyve already clinched the NWOC league title, because they entered play this week three games up on second-place Sherwood (14-7, 9-3) with only the two league games remaining.
Its Putnams first league title in three decades. Putnam last won league in 1981-82, when the Kingsmen went 17-1 (19-3 overall) in the Wilco League. Its the first winning season by a Putnam girls basketball team since 1986-87, when the Kingsmen went 12-4 in league and finished 17-6 overall, losing in the first round of the state playoffs.
It took the Kingsmen awhile to get up to speed in last weeks game at Sandy. The Pioneers packed the inside, forcing the Kingsmen to take many of their shots from the outside.
The key was getting physical on defense and being patient on offense, said Putnam assistant coach Kris Leatherman. The refs werent calling anything, so we told the kids to ramp it up and get more physical on defense.
The strategy paid dividends, because the Kingsmen held the Pioneers scoreless in the second period, as they rallied from an 8-2 early-game deficit to a 14-10 halftime advantage.
With the lead in hand, the Kingsmen continued patient on offense in the second half, and gradually widened the gap.
Once we got the lead, we figured wed work on our stall game, because we might need it when we get to the playoffs, Leatherman said.
The Kingsmen coach noted that Putnam accomplished the win despite the absence of play-making guard Mariah Oliver on the floor. Oliver sat most of the game because she was sick, Leatherman said.
Stepping up to run the show in Olivers offense were Ali Schooley and Carly Bolander.
Bolander also did a defensive number on one of Sandys top players, Kaylee Barnett, holding her scoreless.
She hit three 3s the first time we played them, Leatherman said of Barnett.
Angela Arrington, Haley Brandel and Bolander led a balanced Kingsmen attack, each with six points. Brandel also claimed a team-high six rebounds and she blocked three shots.
Bolander hit two huge 3s in the first half, when Sandy was threatening to break the game open. She also came up with three steals.
In one of their better shooting nights of the season, the Kingsmen found the basket on 12-of-26 field goal attempts. They also forced 20 turnovers.
Raquel Pellecer (6 points) and Leah Barnett (6 points) paced the Pioneers in scoring.
Putnam was in command from the outset in last weeks game with St. Helens. The Kingsmen were up 18-9 at the end of the first period and 36-17 at halftime.
Ten players scored for the Kingsmen, led by Bolander (15 points) and Mariah Oliver (14 points). Bolander hit three treys; Oliver connected on two 3-pointers.
Oliver also headed up a defensive effort that forced 30 turnovers, stealing the sphere five times.
The St. Helens game was not all good news for the Kingsmen. Ali Schooley, who had moved into the starting role of play-making point guard in recent games, injured her knee just before halftime.
Coach Leatherman said he did not know how serious the knee injury might be.
Milwaukie (11-10, 8-4) got on track last week, moving up to third place in the NWOC with convincing wins over St. Helens (63-33) and Sherwood (40-33).
The Mustangs built a 23-12 halftime lead in the game with Sherwood, and then held off the Bowgirls attempt to rally. Merrily Jones hit three treys and tallied a game-high 16 points. She was also a defensive force, blocking four shots.
Karissa Delaunay tallied 13 points and assisted on three baskets.
Jones (22 points), Alex Mulford (15 points) and Delaunay (10 points) led a balanced effort in the rout of St. Helens. Jones also had four blocked shots, along with 11 rebounds, in that game.
Delaunay made the offense work like a well-oiled machine, assisting on nine baskets.