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Tigers work overtime to get tournament victory

Girls basketball: Tigard picks up its first state win since 2003 by beating South Medford
by: DAN BROOD HUSTLE — Tigard High School junior post Maddie Black (32) sprints to get the ball between South Medford’s Yaremi Mejia (left) and Tess Picknell in Friday’s game. The Tigers won 63-49 in overtime.

PORTLAND - A win.

The Tigard High School girls basketball team was determined - really determined - to get one at the Class 6A state tournament.

And, after a great start, a scary second half and an amazing overtime performance, the Tigers got their victory.

Tigard - which went 0-2 at the 2010 state tournament and dropped its first game at this year's event - picked up its first state tournament victory since 2003 by scoring a 63-49 overtime win over South Medford in a consolation bracket semifinal game played Friday at the Rose Garden.

'This is what everyone wanted,' Tigard sophomore Megan Risinger said after the victory. 'Last year, it was so great just to be here. This year, we wanted to go out, get a win and go as far as we can.'

'It was win or go home,' Tigard senior guard Kelsey Kaelin said. 'It's our senior year and it could have been our last game, so we put it all on the line.'

South Medford, the Southern Oregon Conference champion, finished its season with a final overall record of 21-7.

Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, improved to 24-5 with the state tournament victory and advanced to meet St. Mary's in the tourney fourth-place game (see related story).

'It's great,' Tigard junior post Maddie Black said. 'It was a goal for us to get a win this year, and we did it.'

But reaching that victory goal didn't appear to be easy. In fact, the Tigers had to battle their way through an emotional roller-coaster ride of a game on its way to getting the win.

'It was a weird game,' Kaelin said. 'We had a good start and were pulling away, but then things fell apart.'

The Tigers did, indeed, get off to a strong start to the contest.

Tigard senior post Katie Hollingsworth scored four points in the opening quarter, which ended with the teams tied at 12-12.

The Tigers then started to take charge in the second quarter, opening the period with an 8-0 run.

Hollingsworth started the run with a free throw. Black followed with a three-pointer play. Freshman guard Lexi Carter then scored on a follow-up shot and then she came up with a steal and layup to give Tigard a 20-12 lead with 4:49 left in the period.

South Medford ended the Tiger scoring spree with a basket by sophomore guard Kylie Towry. But Tigard quickly took off again.

Hollingsworth ignited a 9-0 Tigard run with a put-back basket. Carter followed with a pair of free throws, junior Jessica Roshak sank a three-pointer off a pass from Kaelin, who, soon after, scored on a short-range banker to give the Tigers a 29-14 advantage with 1:48 remaining in the first half.

The Panthers, getting a late basket by Towry and a three-pointer by senior Hanna Curtis, trimmed the Tigard lead to 29-19 at the intermission.

The Tigers kept their lead near, or at, double digits throughout the third quarter. Black scored four points later in the period to give Tigard a 37-26 lead. South Medford, with Towry going 2-for-2 from the foul line with 29.1 seconds left in the period, cut the margin to 37-28 going into the fourth quarter.

That's when things started getting real interesting.

South Medford, getting a follow-up basket from 6-foot-5 junior post Tess Picknell, trimmed the Tigard lead to 41-35 with 4:52 left in regulation.

The Panthers got even closer, at 43-39, after sophomore Hanna Curtius scored four straight points with 3:45 remaining in the fourth quarter.

Tigard was able to push the lead to 46-41 after Risinger went 2-for-2 from the free throw line with 3:02 remaining.

The Panthers kept pressing. Towry made a free throw and then she came up with a steal and layup to cut the Tiger lead to 46-44 with 2:33 left to play.

But Risinger helped keep Tigard in front as she again went 2-for-2 from the foul line to make the score 48-44 with 2:23 remaining.

'I felt like I was going to throw up before every one of those shots,' Risinger said of her four clutch free throws. 'But I said 'I've got to do this.' I knew it could be the difference.'

A free throw by Carter upped the Tigard lead to 49-44 with 1:33 left to play. But South Medford wouldn't go away. Towry sank a long three-pointer from beyond the top of the arc with 1:22 left to play. Then, following a steal, Towry sank a baseline jumper with seven seconds to play to tie the game at 49-49.

Tigard tried to set up a potential game-winning shot, but a deep pass sailed out of bounds, sending the game to overtime.

'I was a little nervous going into overtime,' Kaelin said. 'But I said 'this is our game.' No one wanted to go home.'

'We were saying that if we don't hit that last shot, we'll be fine in overtime,' Tigard coach Steve Naylor said.

Tigard took a 50-49 lead when senior Erin Nyberg went 1-for-2 from the free throw line with 2:45 left in the four-minute overtime session. From there, the Tigers, and Black, took over.

With 1:54 left in overtime, Black blocked a shot by South Medford sophomore Luisa Tago and then snared the rebound. At the other end of the court, she scored on a turnaround four-footer to up the lead to 52-49 with 1:37.

Nyberg then scored on a layup following a steal by Kaelin. Black then went 2-for-2 from the stripe after she was fouled after grabbing a defensive rebound, upping the lead to 56-49 with 50.4 seconds remaining.

The Tigers kept on rolling. With a pair of free throws by Kaelin, a three-point play by Carter and a pair of free throws by Carter, Tigard wrapped up the 63-49 victory - outscoring the Panthers 14-0 in the extra session.

'We knew we had to pull it out,' said Black, who had four points, three rebounds and a blocked shot in overtime.

'We played smart and got some stops on defense,' Risinger said. 'We took care of the ball on offense and Maddie made some big plays.'

'Maddie did a great job,' Naylor said.

Black and Kaelin each scored 16 points for the Tigers in the victory. Kaelin also had three assists and three steals. Carter had 12 points, five rebounds and three steals and Hollingsworth had seven points and seven rebounds.

Tigard made 16 of 44 shots from the field and 30 of 45 free throws.

Towry led South Medford with 17 points. Picknell had 12 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocked shots before fouling out with 3:16 left the fourth quarter.