Beaverton's defense downs Jesuit
Kathy Adelman Naro came of age as a head coach at Jesuit, underneath the endless rows of state championship banners, just outside the Knight Center's overflowing, voluminous trophy case.
From 1993 through 2009, Adelman Naro was one of the best girls basketball coaches in the state, a young hotshot who led the Crusaders to two state final appearances, 292 wins and five Metro League championships.
She stepped away from the high school coaching for seven seasons, but accepted the Beaverton job this past summer, paving the way for her return to Jesuit on Jan. 3. Her Beaver players could sense their coach's pregame butterflies and slight nervous energy before the tip. Then, they went out and ensured Adelman Naro's homecoming would be the kind of game she prefers: defensively domineering and offensively unselfish.
Locking up the Crusaders with malicious man-to-man defense while getting key contributions from Laura and Sydney Erikstrup, Beaverton held Jesuit to just 14 points through the first three quarters and withstood a late Crusader push for a 37-26 win at Jesuit High.
"We were playing for Kathy and we wanted to win for her," Sydney Erikstrup said. "We wanted to prove that she's back and she's an amazing coach. To have the ability and opportunity to play for her is huge."
In a battle of two defensive-pressure based, hand-to-hand combat teams that pride themselves on getting after opponents and wreaking havoc, Beaverton went ballistic. The Beavers' on-ball pressure stifled Jesuit's guards, making even the simplest entry passes a true chore. The Crusaders tried to cut back door and move bodies around the floor to alleviate some of the tension, but Beaverton's team defense canvassed the court with helpside defense and keyed-in knowledge of Jesuit's offensive playbook and preferred offensive methods. Beaverton sophomore point guard Mary Kay Naro kept Jesuit's backcourt contained with tight-knit duress and sliding feet. The Erikstrups protected the rim and used their length to alter shots or swat them away. Freshman Alexa Borter denied Jesuit's wings out to the three-point line. Senior Cierra Speck and sophomore Isabelle Potts battled on the boards.
Beaverton held Jesuit to just three field goals in the first half and buoyed its defensive prowess to a commanding 23-11 halftime lead. After the game on Twitter, Jesuit head coach Jason Lowery said he respects great man-to-man defense even if it comes at his team's expense. Normally the Crusaders are the team dishing out the defensive hurt. And while Jesuit certainly had its instances of suppressing, Beaverton sustained its defensive muscle for 32 minutes.
"Our defense is something we want to be known for," Laura Erikstrup said. "We still have to keep working on it, but we're going to get there. (Assistant coach) John (Naro) especially has been on us about our defense, being up the line, getting in passing lanes and not letting (the other team) make the pass."
Any new undertaking helps to have talent to work with, which Adelman-Naro does. The Erikstrups have been great since transferring from Lake Oswego. Naro — Adelman Naro's daughter — and Borter are both two-way studs. All four players are new starters who joined their all-league senior Speck in the starting five. The Erikstrups are matchup nightmares, 6-foot posts who can play inside but more so they can step out on the perimeter and beat defenders off the bounce. There were multiple instances against Jesuit where either Laura or Sydney, both of whom are right-handed, would take the Crusader posts outside drive left and finish with their off-hand at the rim. Sometimes they'd sprinkle a fancy behind the back dribble or a half-spin move to get separation. The twins were too fast, too skilled to keep up with.
"Some people think we're left-handed," Laura Erikstrup said with a laugh. "I could actually go right a little more, but if the left is working I'll take it."
Sydney Erikstrup scored eight of her team-high 13 points in the third quarter, four at the free throw line and four more in the paint. She and Laura Erikstrup combined for all 10 of Beaverton's third-quarter points as the Beavers held Jesuit to just three points, including one field goal and opened up a 32-14 lead at the end of three.
Naro had five assists, three of which came in the second quarter. Borter bagged a three-pointer and a layup and fellow freshman Jordyn Reverman put up home a layup of her own before the half to give Jesuit a 23-11 halftime lead.
"We're a very unselfish team, we like to see everybody else succeed," Sydney Erikstrup said. "We love to throw the extra pass. We love to see each other succeed. So for us, it was finding the open pass and making it."
Jesuit, down 18 at the end of three, is a proud program that was due to make a run at some point against the Beavers. And at the start of the fourth, the Crusaders began to surge. Thanks to its own stretch of dogged defense and a pick me up from super sub Amyr Lowe, Jesuit went on a 9-1 run to close within 33-23 with three minutes left in the game. Taylor Freeman got out in transition and converted. Savannah Corradini turned a Beaver turnover into two points. Lowe churned out steals and incessantly drove to the rim. It was a valiant effort that came up shy. Beaverton didn't make a field goal in the fourth quarter. Borter and Reverman both made two free throws apiece to sustain the Beavers' scoring. But their defensive production that conducted the large third-quarter advantage was more than enough to fend off the Crusaders who fell to 8-3 overall and 2-1 in Metro.
Adelman Naro is still openly held in high honor around the Crusader campus. After the game went final, the former Jesuit coach hugged a number of Crusader faculty and former co-workers who watched her work wonders with the program and helped bring Jesuit into prominence. Adelman Naro's coaching acumen and ability to both relate to her players and get the best out of them even now resonates with the Crusader basketball community years after her resignation and it's a big reason she's been such a boon for Beaverton.
Adelman Naro has brought a sense of new life to a Beaver program that was frankly bleak the past three seasons. The Beaver bench was on its feet for most of the game, cheering, calling out screens from the sideline, giving Beaverton a morale boost from the bench. Behind them, Beaverton's JV team, younger players and parents all seemed bought in and galvanized in helping the Beavers grind on the defensive end.
"There's a lot of joy," Laura Erikstrup said. "All of us are happy to be at practice. We're happy to run the extra line because she has a purpose for us. She gets on us and holds us to very high standards. But at the end of the day, she has visions of where we can be as a team."
At 10-1 overall and 4-0 in Metro, Beaverton hasn't lost a game to an in-state opponent yet. Adelman-Naro and her young proteges are putting Metro on notice.
"We're young, but don't doubt us," Sydney Erikstrup said. "We're working our butts off and we have big things to do. We're proving a point. Age doesn't matter. We're here to compete with the best. This was a big win to prove to people that being young doesn't mean anything. We still have it in us. We're not going to go down without a fight. We had our moments and made some dumb mistakes, but overall we were able to keep the pressure up, push and finish with a win."
Laura Erikstrup finished with 9 points and Borter added eight. Freeman scored all six of her points in the second half and Corradini added four.