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Sunset opens with a win over Lincoln

Anna Johnson hits two free throws with three seconds left to win 33-31
by: MILES VANCE, SCORER — Sunset sophomore Alyssa Martin makes a move to the basket during her team's 33-31 quarterfinal victory over Lincoln last Thursday.

PORTLAND - The game was on the line.

The Chiles Center crowd was alive, raucous and on its feet.

And Sunset senior guard Anna Johnson was on the line with three seconds remaining on the clock. Johnson's first free throw hit the front of the rim and bounced home, and then after a timeout, her second attempt swished home cleanly to lift the Apollos to a 33-31 victory over Lincoln in the quarterfinal round of the Class 6A state tournament last Thursday.

'I was like 'Don't be nervous. It's just a free throw like any other game' so I was pretty good,' said Johnson, who finished with three points, a steal and two rebounds. 'I was pretty confident.'

'She's actually not shooting very well from the field this year, but from the free throw line, … at clutch times … I'd say she's 80 percent at the end of the games,' said Sunset coach Bill Priester.

There was a little more drama in the Apollos' state opener, however. Lincoln's Iris Lerch inbounded the ball to teammate Alexis Gleason under the basket and Gleason dribbled just past the top of the key and launched a long three-point attempt that barely missed, ricocheting off the left side of the back rim and bouncing harmlessly away.

'I thought it was in. I was ready to melt to the floor. I thought it was going in,' Priester said.

Sunset, the third-place team from the Metro League, made its first state tournament appearance in 15 years a winner thanks to defense, rebounding and when it mattered most, clutch shooting. Both teams struggled offensively in the first half - they were a combined 5-of-39 from the field - though Sunset used an 8-3 run in the second quarter to grab a 16-9 edge at halftime.

But the PIL champion Cardinals (21-8) rallied in the third quarter behind Aliyah Green's five points and four from Kelsey Goodell to cut Sunset's lead to 24-23 heading into the fourth quarter.

There, the two teams traded the lead eight times, the last of those going in Sunset's favor when Samantha Potter hit one foul shot to tie the score at 31-31 with 1:31 remaining, and after Green was called for traveling, when Johnson hit her two clinching free throws.

'I was pretty nervous, but I knew we could stick through it because we've been doing it for all of our games,' said senior guard Laura Stanulis, who had four points, 14 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.

Potter led all scorers with 13 points in the contest and added six rebounds, and teammate Katherine Salness added seven points and two steals. Green had seven points and five steals for Lincoln, Goodell had six points, and Lerch three points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.