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Valiants start fast, hang on to win in state opener

Valley Catholic's girls lead 19-7 after one quarter, win 50-42


COOS BAY — Just five days earlier, the Valley Catholic girls basketball team had struggled mightily on offense in its playoff win over Westside Christian.by: MILES VANCE - PUSH IT - Valley Catholic junior Lindsie LaBonte splits two Santiam Christian defenders on a drive during her team's quarterfinal win on Feb. 28 at Marshfield High School.

But on Feb. 28, in the first round of the Class 3A state tournament at Marshfield High School, the Valiants had no such problems.

Facing Pac-West South Conference champion Santiam Christian in its opener, Lewis & Clark League champ Valley Catholic hit the ground running, knocked down five of its first six shots from the floor, grabbed a 19-7 lead at the end of the first quarter, then fought off a late Eagle rally to win 50-42.

“We were definitely ready,” said Valley Catholic senior Chelsea Alsdorf, who tied Kaylynn Bush for team-high scoring honors with 11 points, and also added four rebounds, five assists and four steals. “We had a lot of preparation, a lot of shooting, going over plays and getting ready. We've been getting ready for this all week and all year. It was a good start.”

After VC's great start — Bush had six points in the quarter and Alsdorf five (including a three-pointer) — the Valiants extended their lead to 21-7 when freshman Molly Danielson took an Alsdorf pass and banked home a shot in the key with 5 minutes, 7 seconds to go in the first half, then pushed it to 28-13 when Alsdorf knocked down a three-pointer from the right corner with 13 seconds remaining in the half.

There were challenges ahead before game's end, though. The Eagles first tried to creep back into contention in the third quarter with an early 9-2 run power by Nicole Magnuson and four from Jessi Seumalo that cut the gap to 31-22.

The Valiants answered that push with an Addie Flemmer fast break hoop assisted by Alsdorf, two Bush foul shots and a putback by Danielson and were still up 15 — at 37-22 — at the end of the period.

But the Eagles attacked once again in the fourth, put together a 13-4 run and closed within 41-35 when Seumalo scored off an inbound pass from Emily Griner with 2:05 left in the game.

“We talked at halftime and we knew they'd come back, so we just had to push it harder,” said Valley Catholic junior Lindsie LaBonte.

“I was nervous. I just remember looking at (the score) and going 'Oh. It's really close,'” Danielson said. “But I just knew I had to get rebounds. That was my goal.”

Santiam Christian edged even closer when Tori Schroeder scored from the left block to make it 43-39 with 1:02 remaining, but the Valiants would not crack. LaBonte knocked down 5-of-6 foul shots in the final 57 seconds, and Bailey McDevitt and Danielson added one each from the free throw line to VC preserve its victory.

“I just knew we had to make free throws and we've been practicing, so when I went up there, I just told myself I had to make them because we needed them,” said LaBonte, who finished with eight points and six steals.

“We've been wanting to play some good competition and they were good,” Alsdorf said. “We've played a lot of good teams this year, and that was another one, but we put them away and that says a lot of good things about our team and what we're here to do.”

Danielson and McDevitt added eight points and two steals each, McDevitt also with five rebounds and Danielson with four. Grace Mannen added four steals and three rebounds for VC. Seumalo led all scorers with 20 points and grabbed 21 rebounds, while Magnuson had six points and four steals in the loss.

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




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