Girls' basketball: St. Helens finally in the win column
The Lions beat up on Parkrose for their first win of the season
After two and a half months of work without a result, the Lady Lions finally wrestled the monkey off their back, blowing out Parkrose 45-24 for their first win of the season. St. Helens (1-16, 1-8 NWOC) has five games remaining on their schedule with which to find a little redemption, and as sweet as it is to taste victory in a year lacking a long list of positives, Head Coach Billy McKinney says he isn't finished.
My bar is up here, he said, raising his arm above his head. We should have eight of these (wins), so take it and go with it. It's good for the kids. They're all happy. [We'll] carry it into tomorrow and fix a couple of things.
McKinney was surprisingly calm for having finally broke through and found a win, and though part of that comes from the record of their opponent: 0-16 and ranked dead last in class 5A, he still saw some things the team could have done better.
It's hard to play up when you're going against something like that, but I told the kids, 'don't play down. Whatever you do, don't play down,' he said.
St. Helens, behind the early hot hand of senior guard Rianne Tupper, who finished with a game-high 13, scored the first five points of the game. They were everywhere, stealing passes, forcing misses on the defensive end and being smart about their offensive attack. The Lions got six turnovers before Parkrose netted their first points midway through the first period.
Then, some of that confidence started to slip. Shots weren't falling, and the longer the drought from the field continued, the more nervous McKinney got. The Broncos got within three in the early going of the second quarter, but a 10-5 run capped with a buzzer beater from senior Lydia Reardon put the Lions up 20-9 at the break.
I think once they got the rhythm and the confidence [they said,] 'Oh wow, we can really beat this team,' said McKinney, but for a minute it looked like 'oh well, we'll let them hang around.'
A few well-placed time outs, and St. Helens was back on track. The Lions quickly went up by 15 midway through the third period, and though the Broncos closed the quarter on a mini-run, St. Helens still held a double-digit lead heading to the final frame.
From there, it was all St. Helens. The Lions went on a 9-0 run to take a 39-18 lead, and didn't allow a single field goal until the closing minutes of the contest. The desperation fade away shot from freshman Jewel Boland was the only field goal the Broncos could muster down the stretch, as they watched a hungry St. Helens team pull away at the finish.
In spite of his restrained mood, McKinney said he was pleased the team did better than he though, in spite of not playing their best game. He had expected to win, but by seven to 10 points.
The fact that we won by 21 indicates that we are better than – and people have been saying that all along with us when looking at our record, 'you guys are much better than your record indicates. So much better,' he said. Tonight, that came out.
The victory will do wonders for the confidence of the young Lions, who have seven underclassmen listed on their varsity roster. Sophomore Emily Nollette, and freshman Kileigh Capelle and Maggie Cochran all made solid contributions on both ends of the court, strengthening what will likely be the core of next year's team.
Getting in the right mindset to prove they were better than their record was half the battle for McKinney, especially given the youth. The group had been looking forward to playing Parkrose for several weeks, and working against overconfidence was a constant topic in practice.
Don't play down. Do not play down. Don't get caught up in their running and gunning and get-up-and-down-the-floor game. Stay fundamental, and we'll be okay, McKinney told the team. We were [okay] for the most part. You saw a couple times in the second half where we had to pull it out, run our sets up high and get our rhythm back.
McKinney said the team will work on some defensive principles, especially help-side defense and communication on the defensive end of the floor, before Friday's home game with Wilsonville. With their newfound confidence and the curse broken, McKinney thinks Wilsonville is beatable.
These kids have character. They got a little bit of character, he said. "They're really pushing, pushing, pushing to see what's gonna happen. Keep going after it, and see what happens.
St. Helens 45, Parkrose 24
PARK 2 7 7 8 – 24
STHE 7 13 8 17 – 45
Parkrose (24): Williams 1, Stanley 7, Bahru, Mitchell 6, Payton, Boland 10, Pettigrove
St. Helens (45): Tupper 13, Harcourt 8, Capelle 4, Kyle-Milward, Reardon 6, Roth 4, Nollette 2, Hembree, Curtiss 2, Cochran 6
Sherwood 45, St. Helens 28
STHE 4 7 8 9 – 28
SHER 13 14 13 11 – 45
St. Helens (28): Tupper 14, Harcourt 4, Kyle-Milward 2, Reardon, Cappelle 4, Roth, Hembree, Nollette, Curtiss 2, Cochran 2
Sherwood (45): Funk 11, Walker 1, Corro 3, Warren 3, Funk 3, Shields 11, Stobie 7, Johnson 4, Thiel 2