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Bounce doesn't go Lady Bowmen's way

Basketball: Sherwood is edged by Willamette 51-48 in Class 5A state playoff contest
by: DAN BROOD, ON THE DRIVE — Sherwood senior Alex Francis looks to drive to the basket between Willamette’s Ashley Smith (left) and Katie Collins in Friday’s game.

EUGENE - The Bowmen looked to have the desire.

They had the determination and they certainly seemed to deliver the effort. But the one thing they didn't have was a lucky bounce.

The Sherwood girls basketball team saw its season come to an end with a 51-48 loss to defending state champion Willamette in a Class 5A state playoff second round game played Friday at Willamette High School.

Sherwood, which trailed by nine points early in the second quarter, looked to have a chance to send the game to overtime, but senior guard Alex Francis' last-second three-point attempt hit the front rim, the backboard and the rim again before falling off to the side - instead of falling into the basket - as the buzzer sounded.

'At first, it looked good,' Francis, who had 16 points and led the Bowmen rally, said of the final shot. 'It went in and out. It was a roller coaster of emotions.'

With the win, Willamette, the Midwestern League champion, improved to 25-1 on the season and advanced to play in the Class 5A state tournament.

Sherwood, which also lost at Willamette in the state playoffs last year, finished its season with a final record of 21-5.

'It was a good season,' Sherwood coach Liz Barrett said. 'This is a great group of kids, especially the seniors. They were great leaders and role models. It was a great effort tonight. The girls really worked hard.'

Sherwood, which trailed 14-7 at the end of the first quarter and was down 23-16 at halftime, came out strong to start the second half. Francis sank a three-pointer from the top of the circle off an assist from junior post Lauren Codling to cut the lead to 28-24 with 3 minutes and 51 seconds to play in the third quarter.

Sherwood got even closer. Senior Brooke Davis scored on a layup off a pass from senior Melany Boulton following s steal by senior Jessi Ramp, making the score 28-26. Boulton then sank a baseline jumper to tie the game at 28-28 with 2:48 left in the third.

The Lady Bowmen, with Francis making a pair of free throws with no time on the clock in the quarter, forged a 35-35 tie going into the final stanza.

Sherwood was never able to take the lead in the fourth quarter. Willamette went up 44-39 when junior post Ashley Smith converted a three-point play with 2:25 left to play in the contest.

But the Lady Bowmen kept fighting back. Codling connected on a bank shot and Davis had a layup off an assist from Francis to trim the lead to 47-44 with 1:00 to play. Willamette got a pair of free throws by junior Alyssa Garner, but Sherwood answered back on a driving basket by Francis, making the score 49-46 with 40 seconds remaining.

Then, after a Willamette turnover, Francis was fouled on a three-point attempt with 15.1 seconds to play. She made two of her three ensuing foul shots to trim the lead to 49-48.

Willamette junior point guard Alyxe Bruns was fouled with 14.0 seconds on the clock. She went 2-for-2 from the line to up the Wolverine lead to 51-48.

Sherwood turned to Francis for the potential tying three-point attempt, but the cruel, unlucky bounce off the rim left Willamette with the 51-48 win.

'We gave it our all,' Francis said. 'We started slow, but the second quarter we started picking it up.'

'We dug that hole early, but we got back into it,' Barrett said. 'Our defense got us back into the game. It was a great effort.'

Francis had a strong overall game for the Lady Bowmen. She scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half. She also had four rebounds and three assists. Codling also scored 16 points. Bruns led Willamette with 17 points and Smith scored 15.