Tigers finding the right combination

Girls basketball: Wins over Forest Grove and McMinnville put Tigard in a tie for first
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, UP FOR TWO — Tigard High School senior Brittany Duty goes up to the basket for two of her 13 points in the Tigers’ 69-41 victory over Forest Grove on Friday.

TIGARD - With a trio of standout players, the key for the Tigard girls basketball team has been finding the right complement to Corinn Waltrip, Brittany Duty and Heidi Pizer.

The Tigers got some time to test different combinations Friday after building an early lead and beating Forest Grove 69-41 at Tigard High School. The Tigers used a 14-0 run to take an 18-7 lead in the first quarter and started the second half on a 12-0 run to put the game away.

'We came out ready to play,' said Duty, a senior post. 'We were excited to get things going on a better note. We're trying to redeem ourselves for last Friday.'

That's when Tigard lost to rival Tualatin. Since then, the Tigers have won three straight including Tuesday's 54-36 win over McMinnville that forced a three-way tie with Tualatin and Canby atop the Pacific Conference at 3-1.

'After the Tualatin game, our practices picked up a lot and we got more focused,' said Waltrip, a junior guard. 'You don't want to drop in the league standings at the beginning of the season.'

After falling behind 7-4 on Friday, Tigard took over with a 14-0 run starting when Pizer scored inside off an inbounds pass from Waltrip. A Waltrip steal led to Kelsey Kaelin's 12-foot jumper for a 12-7 lead. Waltrip, who had a game-high 18 points, capped the run with a steal and drive upcourt for a scoop layin to make it 18-7.

Duty, who had eight of her 13 points in the first quarter, closed the opening period with a bucket inside from Waltrip for a 22-9 Tigard lead.

The Tigers shot 60 percent (9 of 15) in the first quarter and forced six Viking turnovers - 24 in the game.

'Our starters came out strong,' Duty said. 'We've had some good practices and are working hard. When we play good defense, we do well on offense. It always motivates us.'

'We have a bunch of players that get after it,' Tigard coach Steve Naylor said. 'As the smallest team in the league, we have to out-hustle people. We get a lot because we're working hard.'

Tigard slipped a bit in the second quarter but rebuilt a double-digit lead with a 6-0 run that included a Waltrip steal and jumper from the left elbow. The Tigers led 32-18 at halftime then put the game on ice with a 12-0 run to start the second half.

'We came out pretty focused but lost it in the second quarter because we got up,' Waltrip said. 'We refocused at halftime and brought the heat.'

That they did.

Waltrip scored on a reverse layin off an inbounds pass to spark the spurt then on a fastbreak layin off a pass from Kaelin en route to her 12 points in the third quarter.

Duty and Pizer, who also had 13 points, scored inside on consecutive possessions and Waltrip capped the run with a layin off a Kaelin steal and pass ahead.

'When our starters were in, we looked pretty good,' Naylor said. 'The subs had some issues but we don't have anyone on the bench that can't play. We have some real battles in practices.'

The Tigers built their lead to 52-23 after Waltrip found senior Sarah Rehm on a backdoor cut for a layin then later buried a left elbow jumper and added a pair of free throws. Tigard took a 54-26 lead into the fourth quarter when Kaelin, who had eight points, drove the right side for a layin.

Forest Grove never got closer than 25 points in the final period as eight different Tigers scored and Tigard went 9 of 11 at the free throw line.

The victory and Tuesday's over McMinnville sets up Friday's game with Canby at Tigard High School. The Tigers then get a rematch against Tualatin at home on Tuesday.

'It's going to be a four-team race,' Naylor said. 'We have Corinn and Heidi and Brittany to lead us and five or six others that can start on any night. We need to work on developing other players and get them to step up.'