The Apollos' fifth-place finish at state signals better times at Sunset
PORTLAND - The best Sunset season in a very, very long time ended with another top-notch effort against another powerful opponent on Saturday at the Chiles Center.
The Apollos (19-10), the third-place finishers from the Metro League, closed out their 2007-08 season with a 53-40 loss to Central Catholic on Saturday, but that loss could not take the spotlight away from Sunset's many accomplishments.
Among the Apollos' '07-08 highlights were: the team earned its first state tournament berth since 1993; Sunset posted its best state finish since 1989 when the Apollos finished second; and sophomore Alyssa Martin's selection to the all-tournament second team was the team's first such honor since Keeoma Wardford in 1993.
'I've been coaching 28 years and this is the group I'm most proud to be associated with,' said Bill Priester. 'They're great individuals. They're outstanding young women.'
They're pretty good basketball players too, as evidenced by the fact that they led Central Catholic (24-3), a co-No. 1 with Southridge in the year's final polls, 15-7 at the end of the first quarter and were still up 16-15 with 2 minutes, 50 seconds left in the first half.
'We knew that they were the team that was supposed to come out and win so we just wanted to come out harder and show we could contend in the first half,' said Martin, who finished with 12 points and four steals against the Rams, the Mt. Hood Conference champions.
'We were prepared really well by our coaches,' said Sunset freshman guard Katherine Salness, who had four points, three rebounds, four assists and four steals against the Rams. 'They were just like 'Stay focused. We can play with these teams.''
After the Apollos blasted ahead of the Rams at the start of the game, however - they got six first-quarter points from Samantha Potter and four from Martin - Central Catholic began to come to life. The Rams outscored Sunset 13-1 in the second period, with Audrey Miller getting five points and Kate Lanz four, each of them hitting a three-pointer on the way to a 20-16 lead.
The Apollos fell further behind in the third quarter and trailed 36-26 entering the fourth quarter. There, Sunset moved within 39-31 when Potter scored inside on a Salness assist with 4:42 left to play, but the Rams closed the game on a 12-5 run to pull away and secure third place.
'We knew we were the underdog team and we wanted everyone to know we belonged and we'll be back,' Martin said. 'We'll come back wanting to win even more next year.'
'It was a good experience,' said Stanulis, who led the tournament in rebounding with 24 through three games. 'We're all really excited and we want to come back next year and we'll use that as motivation because we know what it feels like.'
Saturday's contest marked the final game for seniors Anna Johnson and Olivia Redman, two players with a combined seven varsity seasons between them.
'They're pretty special. They're the ones who got us going in the right direction,' Priester said.
Stanulis added eight points, eight rebounds and five assists.