Girls basketball: Woodburn looking to rebound from one-win season
There's a new girls basketball team on the court at Woodburn High School. The players may wear Woodburn Bulldog jerseys, but they are decidedly not the same team that suited up in blue and white all of last year.
The Bulldogs are back and looking to erase the memories of last year's disappointing season, and after Friday night's season opener against the North Salem Vikings, they are already on the right path.
Woodburn fell 61-43 to the visiting Vikings, but not before putting up an exciting showing in the first half, where they led 30-22 after the first two quarters of play. The Bulldogs came out of the gates with the kind of energy that was absent for much of last season's team, which won just one game.
The aggression paid off for Woodburn, leading to 11 free-throw attempts as Woodburn built a 19-16 lead in the first period.
"It's taken a good amount of practice getting here and knowing what we have to practice on and actually doing it," sophomore guard Taiya Kent said. "We all communicate with each other and I felt like we clicked. We knew what we were supposed to do."
The lone returning all-conference player from last year's team, Kent had six points in the opening half, including 4-of-6 shooting from the free-throw line, before exiting the game at the end of the second quarter due to a head injury after falling to the floor chasing a loose ball.
Woodburn's 30 points in the first half was more than the team scored in all but two games last year. In addition to Kent's points, the Bulldogs got contributions from freshman Eliana Arechiga, who drained a pair of 3-pointers in the first quarter of her high school debut and finished with a team-high eight points.
Arechiga is one of six new members to the Woodburn varsity team and one of two freshmen, joining 5-foot-8 post Tatyana Kalugin, who scored two points in Friday's loss.
"I like them," Kent said. "I'm really good friends with them and I enjoy playing with them."
Woodburn's offense stalled in the second half without Kent, as the Vikings employed a press defense that challenged the Bulldog guards and allowed North Salem to quickly take the lead with a 14-0 run to start the third quarter.
The Vikings took 34 free-throw attempts in the second half alone and surged ahead by outscoring the Bulldogs 39-13 in the final two periods. In addition to Arechiga and Kent, the Bulldogs also got seven points from Tatiana Garcia. In total, 10 Woodburn players scored in the loss.
Despite the lackluster end of the game, the loss still represents a major milestone for the Bulldogs.
Every one of Woodburn's 23 losses last season was decided by 20 or more points, with many of them coming by significantly larger margins. The Bulldogs hope to make those games a distant memory this season and know that it will take a lot of work to do so.
"We really want to do better than last year, from our scores to our record," Kent said. "I think the girls want it as much as I do, and I try to bring the energy and make sure that they're excited to play."
Woodburn (0-1) plays in back-to-back games this week, traveling to Roosevelt (1-1) on Wednesday to play its road opener against the Roughriders, followed by a home contest against the Parkrose Broncos the following night.