Its tournament time

Beaverton beats Westview 55-50 to earn a tourney berth
by: Miles Vance DRIVING FORCE — Beaverton senior guard Nicole Hartzog turns the corner against Westview in her team’s Saturday playoff win.

BEAVERTON - Beaverton's girls basketball team knocked on the door a year ago.

On Saturday, they kicked it in.

The Beavers, aiming to win their first state tournament berth since 2002, finally got it done on Saturday night against Westview, building up an 11-point lead in the third quarter of their second-round Class 6A state playoff game, then surviving a late Wildcat rally to win 55-50 at Beaverton High School.

Beaverton, the Metro League runner-up, improved to 21-6 with the win and advances to meet South Eugene at 6:30 p.m. today (Thursday) in the state quarterfinals at the Rose Garden. With a win there, the Beavers would face either St. Mary's or Clackamas at 6:30 p.m. Friday in the semifinals; with a loss today, Beaverton would play at 10:45 a.m. Friday. The tournament championship is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Saturday.

'I think we can go all the way,' said Beaverton senior guard Olivia Cook, who had 12 points in the win over Westview. 'If we play hard, if we play like we did tonight, I think we can do good.'

'I'm really excited,' added Beaverton senior guard Nicole Hartzog, who led all scorers with 15 points on Saturday. 'I think we can go as far as we want to go if we just play hard for four quarters and don't give up.'

'It seems like a long time, but the group we have that's going to the Rose Garden I had as seventh graders, and they really committed themselves since that youth program,' said Beaverton coach Jay Ego, now in his sixth year. 'I'm really proud of the kids.'

Westview, after tying the Beavers for second in league, ended its year at 17-8, and got an unwanted taste of what Beaverton experienced last year when the Beavers lost a nailbiter to Central Catholic and just missed out on reaching the 2010 state tournament.

Westview coach Edniesha 'Eddie' Curry 'told us to hold on to this feeling, which is absolutely the worst feeling ever,' said Westview freshman post Jaime Nared, who tied for team-high scoring honors with 11 points on Saturday. 'I think we will come back stronger for next year.'

Neither team could get a solid advantage against the other in Saturday's first half, with Beaverton taking a 14-7 edge on a Haley Brocker jumpshot late in the first quarter, but Westview answering with a 10-0 run to take its first lead at 17-16 when Nared made a steal and scored on a fast break with 5 minutes, 24 seconds to go in the second quarter.

Beaverton pushed its edge back to 26-20 on a Cook three-pointer late in the period, but Westview's Toni Doroha hit a runner in the lane and Delanie Parry added a late 'three' to cut the gap to 26-25 at halftime.

The Beavers tried to run away again in the third period, and came closer to succeeding this time, with Hartzog breaking free for seven points and senior Marissa Rakestraw for four in a 14-2 run that boosted their advantage to 40-29 with 4:15 left in the quarter.

But again, Westview played its way back into contention. The Wildcats closed the third on a 6-0 run that included four Nared points, then tacked on an 11-7 run at the start of the fourth that brought them within 49-48 with 2:32 left in the game.

Nared kept it going in that final period too, hitting 6-of-7 free throws in the first three minutes, and Bekah Coryell added four points in just over a minute to bring the Cats back within one.

But Beaverton clamped down there, forced three Westview turnovers and three missed shots on the Wildcats' next five possessions, tacked on two free throws each by Ronnie Jones and Cook, and added a breakaway hoop by Cook to seal it at 55-50 with just six seconds left.

'We've been working all year for this and tonight just proved how much we wanted it,' Cook said. 'Last year was disappointing, to lose by two, but all throughout the year we put in the work and it paid off.'

'We just came out in the second half and we knew we could get it,' Hartzog added. 'We knew it was our year.'

And the Wildcats left determined to learn the same hard lesson Beaverton had last year.

'We came back with heart and energy,' Parry said. 'That quarter (the fourth) really helped us but we hit some bumps too.'

'We didn't come out ready from the beginning of the game,' Nared said. 'It's fueling us up for next year to work harder than we did this year because we could have worked harder in many areas.'

Nared, Rachel Hershey and Coryell had 11 points each for Westview, Parry added nine and Doroha eight. Hartzog led the Beavers with 15, Cook added 12, Alexis Montgomery 11 and Rakestraw eight.