Beaverton runs and shoots its way to a victory in last week's contest
by: JAIME VALDEZ, TO THE HOOP — Beaverton’s Ariel Shaw drives to the basket in the team’s win.

BEAVERTON - What the Beaverton girls basketball team lacks in height, it makes up for with hustle.

That and some sharp-shooting beyond the 3-point arc.

Both were on display Thursday when the Beavers beat St. Mary's 65-38 at Beaverton High School to improve to 6-5 in what has been a challenging non-league schedule.

The Beavers' press forced 26 turnovers and Beaverton raced up the court on offense, bombing away from the outside.

'We don't have any (starters) over 5-9 so that's the game we have to play,' Beavers senior guard Kelly Marineau said. 'We have to move it quick and just keep shooting.'

Beaverton did as much in jumping out to a 32-18 halftime lead against the Blues and cruising to the victory. The Beavers took nearly half (30 of 63) their field goal attempts from beyond the arc with junior guard Jenna Krichevsky making four 3-pointers for 12 of her team-high 14 points.

Junior guards Jennifer McKee (13 points) and Erin McNeal (10 points) added a pair of 'threes' for Beaverton, which shot just 38 percent from the floor but offset it with hustle for offensive boards and a disruptive defense.

'We focus a lot of attention in practice on shooting since we're not too big,' Beavers senior guard Ariel Shaw said. 'Defense is a very close second.'

It led the way Thursday with Shaw's seven steals heading a defensive effort that forced 11 St. Mary's turnovers by halftime, 10 more in the third quarter, and kept the Blues from establishing much of an offense. Beaverton held St. Mary's to 34 shots and 32 percent shooting, including a more than six-minute stretch without a field goal in which the Beavers took control.

After Marineau (12 points) swished a 10-footer , the Blues' Gus McGinnity converted a short runner with 4:35 left in the first quarter and Beaverton leading 8-5.

St. Mary's didn't make its next field goal attempt until 1:30 into the second quarter and the Beavers took control behind a 10-2 run. Shaw drove inside and kicked the ball out to McNeal for a 3-pointer. Marineau found an open McNeal for another 'three' moments later and McNeal assisted Marineau for a 12-footer just before the buzzer for an 18-5 Beaverton lead.

Colleen O'Donnell, who had a game-high 18 points, ended St. Mary's drought with a 3-pointer early in the second quarter. But the Blues went another six minutes without a field goal as the Beavers extended their lead to 30-11 behind its active press defense.

'Our defense is huge for us,' Marineau said. 'We have to be really scrappy and put pressure on their guards to disrupt their offense.'

Beaverton missed its first seven shots of the second quarter before McKee buried a 3-pointer to spark a 12-0 spurt. The run included a pair of 'threes' by Krichevsky, the second giving the Beavers a 29-11 lead with 2:45 left before halftime.

The Blues finally connected from the field on McGinnity's long jumper with 0:35 remaining and O'Donnell added a pull-up jumper to make it 32-18 at halftime.

But Beaverton came out of the intermission on a 10-0 run to pull away. The Beavers forced turnovers on St. Mary's first six possessions and got inside against a similarly height-challenged team to build their 42-18 lead.

Even against bigger teams, Beaverton has found its niche.

'Right when the ball goes in the basket, we move the ball up the court,' Marineau said. 'We don't get intimidated by (larger lineups) and keep coming at it. We work as hard as we can.'

Sophomore Carley Losk's hop-drive and shot in the paint made it 36-18. Shaw followed with a dribble penetration and short jumper and Marineau converted a pair of free throws to extend the lead. St. Mary's didn't make its first field goal until 1:52 remained and not until after Beaverton freshman Veronica Jones' three-point play off her steal made it 47-21.

Krichevsky added a 3-pointer for a 50-23 Beavers' lead and they cruised through the final quarter behind five points from McKee and four more from Marineau.

Beaverton graduated a good deal of last year's team and has just three seniors this season. The young group has been tested in a tough non-league schedule that had them play four teams ranked in the Class 6A poll and one in Washington's large-school poll.

'We've played a lot of top-10 teams, which has been helpful,' Marineau said. 'It helps us grow as a team and lets us see where we are.'

After a 2-4 start, Beaverton has now won four of five.

'We lost nine seniors from last year,' Shaw said. 'It's been hard, but we have good team chemistry.'

After a holiday break, Beaverton takes on three Washington schools to start the New Year before opening Metro League play against defending Class 6A champion Southridge on Jan. 15.

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