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Tiger girls suffer an off night on the wrong night

Basketball: Tigard is edged by Sunset in a Class 6A state playoff first-round clash
by: JAIME VALDEZ, DRIVING TIGER — Tigard junior Corinn Waltrip (right) looks to drive to the basket against Sunset’s Alyssa Martin in last week’s state playoff game. Sunset came away with a 31-28 victory.

TIGARD - Every team is entitled to an off night.

Plain and simple, the Tigard girls basketball team had one.

Unfortunately for the Tigers, it couldn't have come at a worse time.

Missed shots and turnovers plagued Tigard in a 31-28 loss to Sunset in the first round of the Class 6A state playoffs Feb. 27 at Tigard High, ending the Tigers' successful season at 20-5.

'We just couldn't get anything going,' Tigard junior Corinn Waltrip said. 'Nerves got to us a lot at the beginning with the turnovers. And buckets were not falling. We missed layups left and right.'

A make here or there and things might have been different for the Tigers, who went 12 of 34 from the floor and had 18 turnovers - 11 in the first half. That combination proved lethal to Tigard.

'We did a good job all year of going on runs. We didn't this game,' Tigard coach Steve Naylor said. 'We had about 10 shots around the basket we didn't make. Point blank shots our posts put in all year and it didn't happen. We just couldn't get the ball to fall.'

Still, the Tigers were in it until the end.

After a scramble, junior Melissa Woolard found an open Waltrip, who swished a 3-pointer with 3 minutes, 20 seconds left in the game to draw Tigard within 26-25.

Sunset senior Anna Johnson's strong drive for a layin and junior Laura Stanulis' two free throws with 0:40 remaining bumped the Apollos' lead to 30-25.

Waltrip, who had a team-high 12 points, cut that to three by swishing a shot three feet behind the arc with 0:23 left.

Samantha Potter's free throw gave Sunset a 31-28 lead with 0:12 left but, following a timeout, Tigard couldn't get an open look and was called for traveling in the final seconds.

'Once we made some shots, we started thinking back to our last game against Canby,' said Waltrip, referencing a 78-71 triple overtime win. 'We thought, 'Can we do it again?' We just ran out of gas.'

The Tigers had trouble getting revved up against the Apollos' zone, which set up roadblocks restricting Tigard's early efforts to get the ball inside.

'That threw us off,' Waltrip said. 'They were able to cover our shooters really well and we couldn't get the ball to the posts. We had trouble passing against their pressure.'

Sunset didn't have it much easier and the Tigers led 8-5 at the end of the first quarter behind field goals from Waltrip, freshman guard Kelsey Kaelin and senior posts Brittany Duty and Sarah Rehm.

But Tigard scored just once in the second quarter on a layin by senior post Heidi Pizer with 3:30 left for a 10-9 lead. The Apollos closed on a 7-0 run and never trailed again.

Stanulis hit a pair of jumpers and sophomore Alyssa Martin, who led Sunset with 16 points, had a steal and fast break layin as the Apollos took a 16-10 lead into halftime.

'Ten points in a half. We've done that to a couple teams, but it hasn't happened to us,' said Naylor. 'We were timid and didn't attack their zone.'

Baskets by Waltrip and Woolard closed the gap to 16-14. All six of Sunset's third quarter points came from Martin, the last two off a long jumper for a 22-16 lead.

Waltrip collided with a defender on a drive but kept her balance and banked in a short shot to make it 22-18. Duty's bucket inside drew the Tigers within a basket at 22-20 at the end of the third quarter, but they never regained the lead and saw their season come to a close.

'We had a great season,' Waltrip said. 'Twenty wins and share of the league title. You can't ask for much more. We just didn't get it done when it counted.'