Girls basketball: Tigard claims first place in the league standings with its 59-45 victory
by: DAN BROOD, WINNING SMILE — Tigard senior Heidi Pizer is all smiles following the Tigers' victory over Tualatin.

TIGARD - The wait is over.

Thanks to a determined effort, solid defensive play, a strong night on the boards and an incredible performance by Heidi Pizer, the Tigers' wait is finally over.

And, for Pizer, that wait has lasted nearly four years.

Pizer, a senior on the Tigard High School girls basketball team, poured in 24 points to help lead the Tigers to a 59-45 win over rival Tualatin in a Pacific Conference game played Tuesday at Tigard. For Pizer, who is in her fourth season on the Tigard varsity, it was her first win against the Timberwolves.

'It's been just a little while,' Pizer said with a smile after the game. 'For me, personally, I've waited for this for so long. It's so nice to finally beat them.'

With the win, the Tigers' first over Tualatin since Jan. 30, 2003, Tigard improved to 5-1 in Pacific Conference play (12-3 overall), putting the Tigers alone atop the league standings.

'That's big,' Tigard senior post Brittany Duty said. 'It's very nice to be in first. But we know that anything can happen and we're going to keep working hard.'

Tualatin moved to 4-2 in league games (10-5 overall), putting the Wolves in a tie with Canby for second place in the Pacific Conference standings.

'We're young, and we showed it tonight,' Tualatin coach Todd Jukkala said. 'We'll have to learn from this. And, to Tigard's credit, they wanted it real bad.'

Tuesday's game was the second this season between the rivals. Back on Jan. 4, Tualatin jumped out to an 8-0 lead and never trailed on its way to scoring a 77-58 win over the Tigers. In that contest, the Wolves made 30 of 57 shots from the field, with 10 of those baskets coming from three-point range.

Tigard, in Tuesday's rematch, again found itself facing early struggles and an early deficit. Tualatin, behind a three-point basket by senior Danielle Roisom and a layup by junior post Kelly Millager, took an early 5-0 lead.

Tigard managed to score just six points in the quarter and found itself trailing 9-6 at the end of the period.

But Pizer, junior guard Corinn Waltrip and the rest of the Tigers seemed to take control early in the second quarter. Tigard scored eight unanswered points to start the period, with Waltrip scoring six of those points, to claim a 14-9 lead with 5 minutes and 56 seconds left in the first half.

It was at that point, during a Tualatin time out, where Pizer and the Tigers, who already were fired up, turned up the intensity even more.

'Everyone was so pumped,' Pizer said. 'I was telling everyone `we're not going to let Tualatin win in our house again.''

Millager sank a 10-foot jumper to end the Tigard scoring streak, but the Tigers answered back right away. Waltrip nailed a three-pointer and Pizer scored eight points in the final 4:25 of the second quarter.

Millager scored six points in the quarter and Tualatin sophomore guard Marissa Senger sank a three-pointer to keep the Wolves close, but, still they found themselves trailing the home team 25-18 at halftime.

Tualatin, getting back-to-back baskets from Millager and junior guard Madeline Houston, cut the lead to 27-22 with 6:45 to play in the third quarter, but the Wolves couldn't get any closer.

Pizer and Duty took over at that point, combining to score 14 points in the final 6:16 of the period, which ended with Tigard leading 45-31.

Still, that wasn't enough to put the Tigers at ease.

'You never feel safe against Tualatin,' Tigard coach Steve Naylor said.

The Wolves quickly cut the lead to 45-33 on a driving basket by sophomore post Aly Brown to start the fourth quarter. But a scoop shot by Waltrip and two baskets by Pizer, including a reverse layup off a baseline drive, pushed the margin to 51-35 with 3:30 left in the game.

Tualatin got the lead down to 51-40 with 1:48 to play, but the Tigers put the game away at the foul line. Junior guard Melissa Woolard went 4-for-4 from the free throw line and Waltrip and Pizer each sank a pair of foul shots in the final 38 seconds as Tigard wrapped up its 59-45 win.

'This is huge,' Duty said. 'We're all so excited. We had a couple good practices and we were really focused tonight. We came out ready. We really needed this.'

'We were really determined,' Pizer said. 'That played a big part in this.'

Pizer scored her 24 points on a 9-for-12 shooting night. She also pulled down eight rebounds and had three steals.

'Last time against them, she had four shots blocked. She didn't have a good game,' Naylor said. 'She was more deliberate with the ball tonight. She let things develop.'

Waltrip had a strong overall game with 17 points, six rebounds, five steals and four assists. Duty, battling foul problems, scored 10 points, all coming in the third quarter, and she had six rebounds.

Tigard, as a team, made 23 of 56 shots from the field and was a perfect 12-for-12 from the foul line. The Tigers also outrebounded Tualatin by a 43-23 margin.

'If we don't rebound, we don't win,' Naylor said.

Millager led Tualatin with 20 points on 9-for-18 shooting. Roisom, Brown and Senger each added six points.

The Wolves, as a team, made just 19 of 63 shots from the field.

'Last time we made the shots, this time we didn't,' Jukkala said.

Prior to Tuesday's game, Tigard and Tualatin both scored victories on Friday. Tigard downed Canby 63-53 at home. Duty led the way in the win with 21 points and Waltrip scored 18.

Tualatin, on Friday, posted a 60-42 win at Newberg. Millager scored 13 points in the victory and sophomore Kelsey Allred added 12.

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