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Valiant girls rally past Cougars 46-43 to stay perfect


VC trails by seven at the start of the fourth quarter but wins

PORTLAND — It ain’t easy being No. 1.

Valley Catholic’s girls basketball team knows that as well as anyone, but the Valiants have decided they like the view on top.

The Valiants took another important step in keeping their ranking Tuesday night when they rallied from seven points down in the fourth quarter to beat No. 16 Portland Adventist 46-43 at Portland Adventist Academy. The win lifted Valley Catholic’s Lewis & Clark League-leading record to 13-0, while its season record improved to an unblemished 22-0.by: MILES VANCE - BATTLE - Valley Catholic's Kaylynn Bush fights Portland Adventist's Sydney Tonack for a rebound on Tuesday night.

“It was a little tense out there at the end, but we were excited because we were down the whole game,” said Valley Catholic senior Emily Gabourel, who had nine points in the victory. “It was good for us to have a close game like that because it was our first one and we needed to know we that we could come back like that and push through it at the end.”

“We were down in the third quarter and we didn’t get it then, but we got it in the fourth quarter and it came because we played with heart,” added VC sophomore Kaylynn Bush, who led her team with 12 points on Tuesday. “It came down to playing with heart and that’s what we did.”

It wasn’t easy, though. Not by a long shot.

The Cougars (who fell to 7-6 in league play and 11-9 overall), led by Sydney Tonack’s 17 points and 12 from Tasha Villeda, led throughout the first half, taking a 17-13 edge at the end of the first quarter and carrying a 25-23 advantage into the half.

While the Valiants scrambled and pressed and forced turnovers all over the court, the Cougars answered with a trapping half-court defense that clogged the passing lanes and disrupted VC’s offense. That trend continued into the third quarter, with the Valiants closing within 32-30 when Bush took a Lindsie LaBonte pass and scored on a layin with 3 minutes, 45 seconds to go in the period.

But the Cougars answered in kind, getting back-to-back Tonack hoops at the end of the frame to take a seven-point lead into the fourth quarter. The first of those came when Tonack scored on a putback of her own miss, the second on a short jumpshot from the right side that boosted PA’s lead to 37-30 with 1:05 left in the period.

Valley Catholic stayed together, though, and opened the fourth quarter with a Bush basket in the key, a Gabourel “three” assisted by LaBonte, and a Meg Rapp jumpshot from the left corner that tied the game 37-37 with 6:12 left in the game.

Villeda scored inside to put PA back in front, and Tonack followed with a jumper from the free throw line to make it 41-37 with 3:29 to go. The Valiants answered again, edging back in front with a Bush foul shot, a LaBonte breakaway and a Bush putback to make it 42-41 with 2:05 remaining.

But when Valley Catholic turned the ball over and the VC bench protested the call, the Valiant bench was assessed a technical foul and Tonack swished two foul shots to give her team a 43-42 with 1:47 left in the clock.

The Cougars had a chance to build on that lead too, but Gabourel made a steal on the ensuing possession, and Bush hit a pair of foul shots to give VC the lead for good at 44-43 with 50 seconds to go. Bailey McDevitt blocked a Tonack shot at the other end, Chelsea Alsdorf hit two more free throws for VC with 33 seconds left, and when PA’s Joni Hanson missed an open three-pointer off the back rim with four seconds left, the Valiants’ win was finally secure.

The key was “our energy coming out in the fourth quarter,” Gabourel said. “We play 9-10 girls in the rotation and that means we can run the whole time and wear teams down. It worked for us in the fourth quarter. We outran them, they got tired and it was that and the heart that won the game.”

On Friday, Valley Catholic plays at Rainier at 6 p.m., and On Tuesday, the Valiants play at Corbett at 6 p.m.

To see a complete photo gallery from this game, please visit milesvance.exposuremanager.com.