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Beaver girls' hoops brings back talent, experience


by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior Gigi Stoll can light it up from the outside and drive to the hoop.

Replacing a player of Alexis Montgomery’s caliber is no one-man task.

It most likely won’t happen overnight, either.

But, the Beaverton girls’ basketball team is fully aware that if it wants to return to the Moda Center for the 6A state tournament, the onus is on the entire team to try and make up for what Montgomery brought to the court in terms of leadership, scoring, passing and rebounding.

“Everyone just needs to step up and fill in Alexis’ place,” said junior forward Gigi Stoll. “I think we’ll be a pretty good team. We still have a lot of youth, so I feel like we have the potential to be good.”

“Alexis was such a strong point guard last year,” added junior post Dagny McConnell. “We really relied on her, so now that she’s gone, everyone’s getting the chance to step up and show what they have. We want to improve our team all around. Right now, we lost a big part of our team in Alexis, so we’re all trying to step up.”

Stoll (second team) is one of four all-league returners for Beaverton, who tied with Westview for the Metro League championship last year. Senior guard Danielle Hartzog (first team), McConnell (honorable mention) and sophomore guard Alyssa Christiansen (honorable mention) are also back for the Beavers. Beaverton only lost four seniors, two of which played major minutes.

Even without Montgomery — who is playing for Seattle University — the Beavers are optimistic about a return trip to the state tourney. Beaverton’s experienced depth and grasp of each other’s game gives the squad a firm belief it could go back-to-back, and possibly place better than last season’s sixth-place finish.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton sophomore guard Alyssa Christiansen will be relied on for scoring and outside shooting this season.

“I think we could go to the Moda Center,” said Tayllor Christiansen. “We’re trying to trust each other more on offense and share the ball. If we do that and really hustle hard all over the court, dive on the floor and play hard defense, then I think we can get there.”

“We know what it’s like to be there,” added Alyssa Christiansen. “We just want to get back there and try really hard to get that goal and prove to others that we can get there again.”

Breaking pressure and handing stringent on-ball defense is at the top of Beaverton’s to-do list as the preseason progresses. But, their new dribble-drive motion offense, which focuses on their guards getting into the lane and kicking the ball out to lights-out shooters like Stoll and the Christiansens, appears to be working already in the early going. The Beavers started the season 0-2, but have won their last two contests, including a 52-45 victory over Tigard.

“It really spaces out the offense and gives open drives to the guards,” said Allysa Christiansen of the Beavers’ new offensive attack.

“We’re trying to not be selfish,” added Tayllor Christiansen. “We want everybody to have a chance to score, or go to the basket or pass it off for open threes. We want to be a team that passes the ball around and attacks hard at a fast pace.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior guard Sydney Herzog was first-team all-Metro League last year as a junior.

Additionally, McConnell and senior post Shaunta Jackson are getting more touches in the paint, where they can use their height and experience against smaller pivots.

“We want to be a strong team from every angle,” said McConnell. “We’re definitely working more with our posts. Everyone’s definitely been working on their game. We’re trying to round out our team and make it the best that we can.”

Defensively, Christiansen said the Beavers want to be a team that gets after it on the perimeter while protecting the paint with McConnell and Jackson blocking shots at the cup.