Playing at a faster pace, Newberg tops Gresham, but falls to Sunset to open the season

With a younger roster and a lot more speed, the Newberg girls basketball team will look different this season.

The competition for playing time is wide open, as will be the style of play, as the Tigers will push the pace much more than in recent seasons.

But the potential that could be seen during the Tigers’ season-opening 42-35 win over Gresham Friday was offset by the inexperience they showed in falling 43-35 to Sunset on Saturday as Newberg hosted a SETH GORDON - Within reach - Heather Petrie fights for a rebound during Newberg's 42-35 win over Gresham Friday. Petrie finished with eight points in what head coach Tamie Woginrich called ‘the best basketball I've ever seen her play.'

Head coach Tamie Woginrich’s squad executed the plan well in taking a 14-8 lead against Gresham through one quarter, which saw the Tigers play solid defense, get the ball inside to 6-2 center Tori Eichten and effectively get out in transition.

Newberg did have a few too many turnovers for Woginrich’s taste, a problem that got worse in the second quarter. The Tigers went cold from the floor as well, but managed to take 24-14 lead at halftime.

Gresham got back into the game in the third quarter, adapting well to a loosely-called game by the refs to attack the passing lanes and deny entry passes to the post.

Newberg led 29-27 entering the fourth quarter, but returned to form as guard Hannah Green settled down the offense by getting to the free throw line. The Tigers re-established their lead and shepherded it to the finish line.

“All in all, for the first game, it was not too bad,” Woginrich said. “We could have easily fell apart when they started to make that run. You never know, some of them do fold, but they don’t seem to panic. I was proud of them.”

Eichten led the way with 11 points, with Marta Burchett adding nine and Heather Petrie eight.

“Heather probably played the best basketball I’ve ever seen her play,” Woginrich said of Petrie, a junior post.

Woginrich said she was also impressed with the play of sophomores Christina Bryan, a forward who worked hard for rebounds and scored six points, and Sabrina Salmons, a point guard who looked good leading the team in transition.

The Tigers were effective with their press Saturday versus Sunset, causing 27 turnovers, but turned the ball over 24 times themselves.

“A lot of the times we would steal it and get so excited and turn it back over,” Woginrich said. “Right now I just think it’s excitement, it’s nerves and trying to go too fast.”

Newberg fell behind 17-9 after one quarter, but were never able to overcome the early deficit despite playing much better defense the rest of the way. That was in part due to a particularly poor performance at the free throw line, where the Tigers made 10 of 23 attempts, enough to make a big difference in an eight-point loss.

Burchett scored a team-high 15 points and Eichten finished with 10. Bryan had another solid performance, grabbing a team-leading four rebounds.

“The disappointing thing is that it’s hard to lose a game you know you could win,” Woginrich said. “On the good side of things, we still have a lot to learn in what we’re trying to accomplish, but as we get better and better at that, you’ll see some things start to turn around.”

The Tigers will take to the road Friday to face Madison at 7 p.m. in their only contest of the week.

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