Girls basketball: Tualatin overcomes early jitters and runs to a 59-36 victory over McNary
by: DAN BROOD, DRIBBLE DRIVE — Tualatin High School sophomore Marissa Senger gets past McNary’s Demi Tate.

TUALATIN - The Timberwolves were ready.

They were determined and well prepared. And they weren't about to let anything such as a slow start and a quick seven-point deficit get in their way.

With that in mind, the Tualatin High School girls basketball team rolled to a 59-36 win over McNary in a Class 6A state playoff first round game played Feb. 27 at Tualatin.

'We were fighting a little nervousness at the start,' Tualatin senior post Janelle Cromie said after the win. 'But then we knocked down some shots and we were OK. I know I didn't want this to be my last game.'

McNary, the No. 4 team out of the Central Valley League, finished its season with a final record of 12-12. Tualatin, the Pacific Conference co-champion, improved to 20-5 with the win and moved on to meet Sheldon in a second-round state playoff tilt.

'It was a good win,' Tualatin coach Todd Jukkala said. 'We settled in to doing what we do and I think we wore them down.'

McNary, in the playoff game, took a 12-5 lead on a layup by junior Demi Tate coming with 3 minutes and 29 seconds to play in the first quarter. The Wolves, getting a three-point basket by sophomore Kelsey Allred and a 14-foot jumper by junior guard Madeline Houston, cut the lead to 15-12 going into the second quarter. Tualatin took over from there.

Cromie sank a pair of free throws to start the second quarter and junior post Kelly Millager followed with a bank shot that gave the Wolves a 16-15 lead with 6:40 left in the first half. They led the rest of the way.

Cromie scored seven points in the second quarter and Millager and sophomore wing Marissa Senger added six points apiece in the quarter as the Wolves upped their lead to 37-27 at halftime.

Tualatin put on the defensive clamps in the third quarter, limiting the Celtics to just five points in the period. Meanwhile, the Wolves, with sophomore guard Meaghan Cichoke scoring five points in the quarter, pushed the margin to 48-32 going into the fourth quarter.

McNary scored only four points in the final stanza as Tualatin cruised to the victory.

'Everyone really stepped up on defense,' Cromie said.

Cromie led a balanced Tualatin scoring attack with 14 points. She also dished out three assists and pulled down nine rebounds.

'I knew I had a height advantage,' Cromie said of big game rebounding. 'And I didn't want to get yelled at.'

Houston scored 11 points and Millager had 10 points to go with 10 rebounds.

As a team, Tualatin made 22 of 65 shots from the field and 12 of 22 free throws. The Wolves also outrebounded McNary by a 47-31 margin.

Jukkala said there was another factor to the win.

'The girls at the end of the bench ran McNary's offense in practice and helped us get ready,' Jukkala said, referring to Julie Arndorfer, Madeline White, Rosie Mathews, Jenny Johnson, Tyler Morrison, Sarah Chizum and Emily Ben-Jumbo. 'They kicked our rear ends the first day. They did a great job in practice really helped get us ready.'

Megan Hingston led McNary with 13 points.

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