by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton sophomore guard Alyssa Christiansen led the Beavers with 18 points and five assists during Beavertons 61-55 win over Southridge on Tuesday.

From here on out, nothing’s going to come easy to the Beaverton girls’ basketball team.

Each postseason opponent will come at them with no fear. The Beavers’ extended 2-3 zone defense and fullcourt pressure will be addressed and diligently prepped for by future playoff foes. Bland stretches or even quarters of play could be the difference between going home early or advancing to the Moda Center for the 6A state tourney.

To all intents and purposes, Beaverton got a first-hand look at what lies before them next week against a hankering, hawking Southridge team that didn’t push the Beavers to the brink, but brought awareness to what needs to happen for Beaverton to go deep.

After dominating the second and third quarters on Tuesday, Beaverton let a 50-33 lead get whittled to 61-55 with 11 seconds left after a stepback three from Skyhawk junior guard Makenna Bell. The comeback was a case of too little, too late for the upset-minded Skyhawks who lost 61-55.

For Beaverton, it was a good lesson learned late in the year. The pressure of the postseason is about to go up tenfold and as one of the 6A’s proverbial favorites to raise a state championship, Beaverton is well-aware every team it plays is going take its best shot at the Beavers who went to the state tourney last season. Beaverton begins its playoff journey March 4.

“We definitely have a target on our back at this point,” said Beaverton junior post Dagny McConnell. “We just need to start pushing the ball and making sure we play our best defense all the time. We have to make sure we’re being good teammates and play hard for all 32 minutes at both ends of the floor. It’s a little less nerve-wracking, because we’ve been there before, but just as exciting.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton senior guard Danielle Hartzog celebrated senior night with 12 points and four steals during the Beavers win over Southridge.

“We’re pretty confident with how we’re playing now,” added junior forward Gigi Stoll. “The games are progressively going to get harder. So, if we learn how to close those fourth quarters, and learn from every game we play, I think we’re going to do really well.”

Beaverton’s big double-digit lead was sliced to just one at the start of the second quarter when Southridge’s Margaret Brock banked in a lefty lay-up to pull within 12-11. However, the Beavers distanced themselves with dig-in, dig-down defense that detained Southridge for nearly four scoreless minutes. The defensive intensity allowed Beaverton’s offense to stay in dribble-drive motion. Allison Mueller scored consecutive five points at one point. Senior post Shaunta Jackson poured in four straight, including a tough, high-difficulty jumper off the glass that ignited an 11-0 Beaver run. Gigi Stoll’s two free throws imparted Beaverton with a 23-11 lead.

“We created frantic offense on their part,” said McConnell. “We were able to push our defense, get turnovers and score on the other end. Our defense is strong and something we emphasize.”

With Mueller and Danielle Hartzog wreaking havoc with their fervent activity at the top of the Beavers’ 2-3 zone and Stoll, Christiansen and McConnell controlling traffic in the back, Beaverton buoyed its defensive intensity and built a 31-18 halftime lead. Hoops from Christiansen Hartzog and a rhythm three off the right wrist of Stoll punctuated the Beavers’ excellent second quarter showing.

“On defense, we always go 100 percent,” said Stoll. “Our top two always pressure and the back try to go just as hard the whole time.”

In the third quarter, Stoll sank a pair of threes and McConnell finished a three-point play the hard way to hand Beaverton its biggest lead of the game, 48-29. Christiansen controlled the quarter throughout, divvying up shot attempts for Hartzog and Stoll while still being aggressive looking for her own shot.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Beaverton junior forward Gigi Stoll goes up for a one-handed floater against Southridges Madison Weaver.

“We were able to push the ball up the floor and make smart passes,” said McConnell. “Getting the ball to the basket was definitely our strong suit. Alyssa (Christiansen) is definitely taking the ball to the basket more and by doing that we get easier shots.”

Christiansen led the Beavers with 18 points. Stoll drained four threes for her 12 points. Mueller had 11 and Hartzog chipped in 10.

“We got them down and really put them where we wanted to be,” said Stoll. “Offensively I feel like we’re really learning to trust our teammates and share the ball. That’s really important to our team and I think that’ll help during the playoffs.”

Down 60-45 after two free throws from Beaverton’s Alyssa Christiansen, Southridge surged on a 10-0 run with Bell knocking down two jumpers, Brock banging home a pair of lay-ups and Andie Giles dropping in a tear drop after a diagonal bounce pass from Brock.

“It was really good of our team to keep it there mentally and keep fighting through the entire game,” said Bell. “It really showed that we have the work ethic that our team needs. We might not get there this year. But, in years to come, if we keep that work ethic, we hope to go really far.”

“We decided to forget about what happened last time and take it to them even harder,” said Giles. “Even though we got down a little bit, I feel we came back together as a team. We decided we were going to make a run for it and challenge them.”

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge junior post Margaret Brock floats up a left-handed floater for two against Beaverton.

Bell said Southridge’s state of mind and the way the Skyhawks worked as a team were the major difference between Tuesday’s game and the 63-28 licking laid on them Feb. 18. Whereas Southridge was frantic and stressed about Beaverton’s fullcourt press a week ago, the Skyhawks steadied themselves with strong offensive decisions and smart passes.

“We’ve practiced having tons of pressure on us,” said Giles. “We’ve learned how to compose ourselves on the ball, move it around and make the easy play. Beaverton has a great defense and they easily rattle teams. We just decided to calm ourselves down and move the ball around.”

Bell gave a big nod of approval to Southridge’s coaching staff of Jody Reeg and Rian Hickey who not only had the Skyhawk starting five face off against six or seven players in practice to prepare for Beaverton’s pressure, but also suited up themselves. Both standing 6-foot-4 Reeg and Hickey laced up the kicks on Monday and went at the Skyhawks with the same intensity of Beaverton’s Hartzog and Mueller—only much bigger and longer.

by: TIMES PHOTO: MATT SINGLEDECKER - Southridge wing Dayna Carlson and Beaverton guard Allison Mueller fight for a loose ball in the second half of the Beavers win on Tuesday.

“I have to say it was about equally as hard,” said Giles with a laugh. “I hate going against the coaches. They’re so annoying, but it makes us better.”

“They grab you, push you down and are like ‘We didn’t touch you. You have to deal with it’,” added Bell. “That was a really big thing that got us tough and ready for the game mentally and physically. Going against tall coaches and having them put pressure on us was a huge reason we were able to secure the ball.”

Bell and Giles both agreed Southridge’s showing against Beaverton could act as a springboard into the postseason which begins this Friday at home in a 6A “play-in” game.

“The past few weeks we haven’t been doing our best, but this game gives us that edge going into the playoffs,” said Giles. a lot more confidence going into it.”

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