Simac is the heroine in a 38-34 loser-out game with North Marion

Gladstone High School's girls basketball team made it a clean sweep of the 20th-ranked North Marion Huskies last week, defeating the Huskies 38-34 in a state play-in game on Saturday, after handling the Huskies (43-26) in their Tri-Valley Conference final on Feb. 19 and in a conference game on Jan. 29 (55-28).

The two teams were matched up for Saturday's state play-in game after the Gladiators (15-7, 7-3) finished 12th in the OSAA power rankings, while the Huskies (11-14, 4-6) were ranked 20th.

“It's always hard to beat somebody three times, especially if you whacked them twice before,” said Gladstone coach Pat Scott. “I was just really proud of the girls for the way they gutted it out, especially after the way they gave us their best shot right out of the chute. The girls battled back with a great defensive effort....”

The Huskies came out red hot to start the game and led 15-9 at the end of the first period. They scored only 19 points the rest of the way.

Still, the Gladiators trailed 22-18 at halftime and 30-28 heading into the fourth quarter.

“Mikaela Simac had a monster game,” Scott said. “She's the reason we won that game.”

Simac tallied a game- and season high 13 points and she came up with some crucial defensive plays, stealing the sphere six times. She was 5-for-5 from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter, when the game was on the line.

Simac's steal and 3-point play late in the fourth quarter knotted the score at 34-34.

The 5-8 sophomore guard hit two free throws with 30 seconds remaining that put Gladstone up 36-34. She followed that up with a steal and two more free throws that iced the win.

Gladstone offensive leader Molly Webster was double-team throughout the game and had only two points on the night. But Webster still sparked the offense with three assists, and she claimed a team-high seven rebounds.

The Gladiators put together one of their better games of the season in their Feb. 19 league final with North Marion.

The defense-minded Gladiators prevailed 43-26 in a contest that was also one of their better offensive performances.

“We had a solid defensive game and we executed very well on offense as well,” Scott said. “We had a season-low five turnovers and we had assists on 13 of our 15 baskets....

“It was a steady performance. We took the lead for good in the first quarter and we outscored them in every quarter.”

Webster had a big game for the Gladiators, scoring a game-high 14 points and snagging 10 rebounds. She made 7-of-8 free throws.

Six different Gladiators were credited with assists, led by Nichole Petersen and Jessica Petersen, who had three apiece.

Kendall Schumaker headed the defense, with three steals.

Last Saturday's win over the Huskies advanced the Gladiators to a state playoff game, scheduled this Saturday at fifth-ranked Cascade (18-5, 9-1), with a berth in the eight-team Class 4A State Tournament on the line.

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