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by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic wing Kaylynn Bush drives to the hoop for a basket against Clatskanie.

The gaudy final numbers of the defensive clinic put on by the Valley Catholic girls’ basketball team against Clatskanie speaks volumes to what the Valiants hang their hats on, what drives this high-velocity, full-functioning unit of defending state champions.

24 takeaways in the first half. Zero Clatskanie points in the first quarter. Six straight possessions of thievery-and-transition scores in the second quarter. Holding Clatskanie to just five points in the first 16 minutes of play.

On Friday, Valley supplied a virtuoso defensive display against an undermanned Clatskanie crew that was outmatched from the tip. The focused Valiants forced more than 35 turnovers overall, and received points from each of the 14 players on the roster in a reverberating, 68-14, rout.

“Our defense sets off the energy of the game,” said senior guard Addie Flemmer. “Our press sets up how we play, how tough we play and how fast we play. We didn’t look up at the score, and we didn’t play to their level.”

“We were active,” added junior small forward Kaylynn Bush. “We communicated a lot and just moved our feet. Normally, we always get caught fouling, but tonight we really moved our feet and didn’t reach. We did a really good job of having our hands up and moving our feet.”

In the first quarter alone, Valley caused Clatskanie to hand over the rock a walloping 14 times, 10 of which were converted into hoops on the Valiants’ end of the floor. Junior post Bailey McDevitt scored 14 points in the opening stanza, including converting a skillful no-look dime from senior point guard Grace Mannen on the break. Clatskanie, in turn, could barely move the ball across halfcourt, much less get shots up at the cup. McDevitt’s offensive board and bucket put the stamp on a sterling 25-0 first quarter.

“We like to fly around,” said McDevitt.“We like to rush their shooters. We try to make our competitors frazzled and not know what to do. Our defense is our main focus point. We like to really be tough on D. It really pumps us up for the rest of the game, and it just gets our mojo going.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic post Maddie Vinson floats a layup past a Clatskanie defender for two during the Valiants rout on Friday in Lewis and Clark League action.

Valley’s vaunted 1-2-2 fullcourt press and proceeding 2-3 zone pressurized Clatskanie into a combo platter of chaotic coughups. With Flemmer and Lindsie LaBonte flogging the top of the press, Jessi Beyer and Bush broadening their long wingspans into passing lanes and Mannen bugging Clatskanie with bruising on-ball defense, the Valiants vexed their Lewis and Clark League foe into foulups possession after possession after possesion.

It was five Valiants playing on a backline string, moving in tandem, zipping around the basketball with hyper-aggressive hands, swinging arms and non-stop wagging limbs that clipped passes and contested shots. Clatskanie’s first hoop of the game didn’t occur until there was 6:30 in the second quarter. By then, Valley was already up 29-2.

“We’re really good about seeing where the pass is going to be,” said McDevitt. “Our back people (of the press) are good at reading passes. And our (guards) upfront are really active in moving around and really putting pressure on them.”

McDevitt, Molly Danielson, and Kim Duyck dominated on the inside offensively, gorging on post-to-post feeds from the short corner and entries from the wing. Duyck scored eight points in the second quarter and Flemmer scored five to put Valley up 44-5 at intermission.

“Everyone has contributed to the team,” said McDevitt. “This year, I feel it’s different. Usually, in past years we only had eight girls go in the game, but this year everyone’s getting in and getting minutes. We’re all developing our skills together, and we’re going to become a powerhouse.”

Subbing players in four or five at a time like the Boston Bruins, Valley head coach John Innes was able to keep his players fresh, which let them feast on Clatskanie for three or four minutes at a time at full-tilt without the fear of fatigue.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Valley Catholic junior post Bailey McDevitt puts up a paint jumper over two Clatskanie defenders in the first quarter of the Valiants win on Friday.

“We rotate girls in really fast, so, when you’re out there for your shift, you run super hard,” said Bush. “We got most of our points from our defense, from our press. We come out there and we’re ready to get the ball. Our coach (Innes) told us to play our style of game, which is just run, run, run.”

Better yet, even when the lunch pail-toting Valiants were up 40 points in the second quarter, players like Danielson and Mannen were diving on the floor for loose balls, creating extra possessions for their teammates.

“That shows we want to play hard and work hard,” said Flemmer. “We all get super pumped up and we’re supporting each other. It’s fun to cause turnovers and just get everybody going. If one person gets a tip on it, another person gets a steal so that’s both of them contributing. Everybody gets involved.”

Innes called off the dogs in the second half and backed off the accelerator in the name of sportsmanship. The head coach freely substituted his bench in, as Megan Co, Mikaela Bernards, Kate Nguyen, Erin Weinbender each scored in the fourth quarter.

Every Valiant got in the scorebook, got a shot in on the beatdown and played a role in the utter dismantling.

Valley has won its last eight Lewis and Clark contests by an average of 36 points, crushing teams with killer focus and staying sharp by bringing the effort every day, whether it’s in practice or in game action.

“We practice super hard, like we’re playing a game,” said Bush. “I think we’re getting a lot better. Last year, we lost our seniors and all-star point guard and this year we’re young. But, we’re learning how to play together as a team. It took us a while to get better, but we’re doing a really good job of it now.”

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