The Skyhawks step up
Southridge runs away from Oregon City in the second half of Monday's King Classic
PORTLAND - Non-league games just don't mean that much.
They don't win league titles. They don't clinch playoff berths. They don't help with seedings.
So for a game that didn't mean a darn thing, Southridge's 51-35 rout of Oregon City's girls in the King Classic at the Rose Garden sure felt good.
The Skyhawks (12-4), top-ranked in the latest AP poll and third in the 6A Coaches poll, absolutely dropped the hammer on the Pioneers (12-3) in Monday's second half, using a 38-12 run to break open what had been a close game.
'We just got pumped up,' explained Southridge senior guard Alex Earl, who led all scorers with 15 points. 'They were only down 10 (late in the third quarter), and 10 against Oregon City is nothing. We had to work on playing hard the whole game and that's what we really focused on this game is keeping it consistent and working hard the whole game.'
'We just wanted to finish it out,' said Southridge senior post Marisa Metier, who scored all seven of her points in the second half. 'We know they're capable of coming back any time; they can hit shots. So we knew what we needed to do going out and pick up the intensity a little bit.'
Skyhawk coach Mike Meek liked what he saw from his team, but cautioned against reading too much into a non-league contest.
'I thought we played smarter (in the second half) and we did some things better defensively,' Meek said. 'I thought they played well too, they just didn't hit shots that they would normally hit. We know they're usually going to complete those plays a little better.'
Monday's first half was a back and forth affair that opened with a 9-2 Southridge run capped when Michelle Jenkins rebounded a Janelle Weiss miss and scored with 2 minutes, 56 seconds left in the first quarter.
Oregon City, which was led by Brittany Knighton's 11 points, answered with a 12-7 stretch over the next 6:06 of the first and second quarters and cut Southridge's lead to 16-14. That run included six Knighton points and ended when Knighton took a Melair Holterhoff pass and scored inside with 4:51 left in the second quarter.
The Skyhawks' lead was 22-18 at halftime and just 23-20 after Holterhoff's drive with 6:14 to go in the third quarter, but that was pretty much the end of the offensive highlights for Oregon City. The Pioneers made just four of their final 15 shots from the floor on Monday and committed six turnovers while Southridge pulled away.
The Skyhawks made five of their next seven shots from the floor, getting five points from Metier and four from Jenkins to boost their lead to 34-22 on Weiss' pull-up jumpshot with 2:38 remaining in the third quarter.
'It was really exciting,' Metier said. 'Any time we play a good team it helps us get better and we're always trying to prepare for league and state and all that.'
Oregon City got within 34-24 on Holterhoff's drive at the end of the third quarter, but the Skyhawks came back with a 10-1 stretch that put the game out of reach. Weiss, who finished with eight points, hit another three-pointer in that stretch and Earl sank one of two free throws with 4:40 remaining in the game to boost the lead to 44-25.
That lead grew as high as 51-30 on two Earl foul shots with 2:10 remaining and the Skyhawks coasted home from there.
Earl, who's still nursing a sore foot - she's broken it three times previously - said that the coming league games were extremely important to the Skyhawks.
'Last year … it took us all season to finally put the pieces together and it clicked right during state playoffs, but we can't (wait) this year,' she said. 'We can't get second in league or we'll have to go to Oregon City or we'll have to go to Clackamas and that is not a good match, so our number one goal is to finish first in Metro. We can't have any slip-ups.'