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Skyhawks stand tall

Southridge dominates highly regarded Tualatin in opener
by: JOHN LARIVIERE, GOING UP — Southridge guard Falissa Smith goes up over Tualatin’s Janelle Cromie during the Skyhawks’ 65-39 non-league victory at Southridge High School on Tuesday night.

By BILL WILSON

Of the Times

BEAVERTON - Southridge may have graduated eight players, including three starters and four now at Division 1-A schools, but the two-time defending state champions sure didn't look the part of a rebuilding team in its season-opening girls basketball game.

The top-ranked Skyhawks started fast, pulled away throughout and finished with a resounding 65-39 victory over No. 6-ranked Tualatin on Tuesday at Southridge High School.

Southridge used its stifling defense, a fast-paced offense and a 10-0 run to open up a 24-9 lead early in the second quarter that it expanded to 42-18 by halftime and 58-24 late in the third quarter.

'We worked really hard in practice and were determined to beat them,' said Southridge wing Kiara Tate, who had 10 points.

'I thought for our first night, we played with a lot of confidence, especially playing against a quality team,' Southridge coach Michael Meek said. 'Obviously this was a great first game, but there are still things we need to work on.'

Junior post Michelle Jenkins led the Skyhawks with 16 points and was a big part in Southridge denying Tualatin many second-chance opportunities.

'Michelle had a good all-around game, but she'll be the first to tell you she had good help behind her,' Meek said. 'She had great support from her teammates, especially defensively.'

The Timberwolves were also hindered in their efforts to bring the ball up the court and set up any semblance of an offense against the Skyhawks' attacking defense.

'That's our game,' Tate said of the team's pressure defense and high-energy offense. 'That's how we want to do it: Be everywhere all the time.'

Another key for Southridge was shutting down standout Sam Child, Tualatin's lone returning starter from last year's team, which placed third at state. Child led the Wolves with 12 points but spent a good portion of the second quarter on the bench after senior Danielle Wells drew a charge for Child's third foul.

Jenkins had followed with a rebound and banked-in putback to give the Skyhawks a 28-11 lead. Alex Earl added steals on back-to-back possessions as Southridge continued to stretch its lead.

Wells put the Skyhawks up 42-18 at the half after hitting a jumper from beyond the free throw line then working inside for two of her eight points, all coming in the second quarter. Jenkins had 10 points in the period as the pair scored 18 of Southridge's 20 second-quarter points.

The Skyhawks continued to expand its lead in the third quarter. Wells snagged a steal and tipped the ball ahead to Falissa Smith for the drive, layin and foul. Smith hit the free throw to complete the three-point play and give Southridge a 55-24 lead. The senior followed by popping the game's only 3-pointer before the Skyhawks turned to the bench for much of the fourth quarter.