Lady Bowmen can't overcome the odds or Springfield
Basketball: Sherwood's rally comes up short against the top-ranked Millers
EUGENE - As the Sherwood High School girls basketball team opened play at the Class 5A state tournament, it found a pair of obstacles in its path.
One of those obstacles was Springfield star 6-foot-5 sophomore post Mercedes Russell. The other was Sherwood's own foul troubles.
Try as they may - and it sure seemed like the Lady Bowmen tried their hardest - those obstacles were too much to overcome. Top-ranked Springfield jumped out to a 13-point halftime lead and then held off a strong Sherwood second-half rally to get a 52-37 win in a state tourney quarterfinal game played last Thursday at Matthew Knight Arena.
'We wanted this real bad,' said Sherwood junior guard Leanne Snyder, who led the Lady Bowmen with 13 points. 'Some uncontrollables made it tough. Things didn't go our way, today, but we were going to keep working hard no matter what.'
'We were a little nervous before the game,' Sherwood senior post McKenzie Griffin said. 'We knew what kind of team this was. But we played with a lot of heart. We played for each other.'
Springfield, the Midwestern League champion, improved to 25-2 on the season at that point with the victory. The Millers advanced to defeat Crescent Valley in the semifinals and then they downed West Albany 42-40 in Saturday's state championship game.
Sherwood, the No. 2 team out of the Northwest Oregon Conference, moved to 19-6 on the season at that point with the setback.
'It was ugly,' Sherwood coach Liz Barrett said. 'Some of the kids were nervous and we knew it would take awhile to get used to the court and shooting here. The fouls really hurt us. But the kids worked hard and tried to turn it around and come back.'
Springfield, and Russell, took control early in the quarterfinal contest, taking a 5-0 lead just 1 minute and 9 seconds into the game. The Millers upped their lead to 10-4 after junior Kaley Potter went 2-for-2 from the free throw line with 3:38 left in the opening period. It was at that time that Sherwood standout senior post Megan Shields, the Lady Bowmen's top scorer on the season, picked up her second foul.
Sherwood cut the lead to 13-9 when Griffin converted a three-point play with 2:37 left in the opening period. But Springfield, with Russell scoring four straight points, pushed the margin to 17-9 going into the second quarter.
Things got tougher for Sherwood in the second quarter. The Lady Bowmen weren't able to score in the period until Snyder got to the basket on a drive with just 47 seconds left in the period. Meanwhile, Shields picked up her third foul with 4:11 left before halftime and Lady Bowmen junior post Jackie Long got whistled for her third foul just over two minutes later.
With Russell scoring four points in the second quarter, and with junior Alisen Hinton sinking a three-pointer, Springfield took a 24-11 halftime lead.
The Millers pushed their lead to 31-15 when Russell sank a pair of free throws with 4:51 left in the third quarter.
But that seemed to ignite the Lady Bowmen.
Griffin scored on a baseline drive, Long connected on a short-range jumper and sophomore guard Kyeli Hendryx sank a driving 10-foot jump shot to help Sherwood close the gap to 33-21 with 3:01 left in the period.
The Lady Bowmen then got even closer. Griffin sank a free throw, Snyder drilled a three-pointer from the right sideline off a pass from Griffin and then she connected on a 10-foot pull-up jumper to get Sherwood within eight, at 35-27, at the end of the third quarter.
'We talked at halftime and we all told each other that we were still in this,' Griffin said. 'We knew what we had to do.'
'We came together and worked hard,' Snyder said.
But Sherwood wasn't able to continue the rally in the fourth quarter. Springfield opened the period with an 11-0 run that upped the lead to 46-27 with 3:48 left to play.
The Lady Bowmen got baskets from Hendryx, Snyder, Griffin, freshman Jaelyn Funk and sophomore Hannah Huntington down the stretch, but that wasn't enough as Springfield notched the 52-37 victory.
'I think we just ran out of gas,' Barrett said.
In addition to her team-high 13 points, Snyder also had four assists and a pair of assists for the Lady Bowmen.
'We all really wanted this,' she said. 'But we got here, and that's a big accomplishment.'
Griffin had 10 points, four rebounds and three steals.
Shields played just 11 minutes in the game, fouling out with 4:21 left in the contest. Long fouled out just 33 seconds later.
'The fouls hurt, but we're deep with athletes,' Griffin said. 'And we believe in ourselves. This experience has been unbelievable. We talked about this all season. Our team has so bonded.'
Russell led all scorers with 29 points on a 9-for-11 shooting night. She also had 13 rebounds.