But theyll need to be at their best to get by defending state champion Mazama in Fridays round of 16

Shorthanded, but motivated, Gladstone’s girls basketball team closed out the regular season strong on Feb. 25, winning big at North Marion 52-25.

“They were in a 3-2 zone much of the way,” said Gladstone coach Pat Scott. “We moved the ball and got lots of inside shots, plus we hit 5-of-10 3-pointers. We had assists on 16 of 22 baskets. And we took care of the basketball. We only had five turnovers, a season low.”

The win was accomplished without contributions from junior floor leader Molly Webster, who missed the game because of an illness.

“That’s been a strength for us all year,” said Scott. “We share the ball and we have a number of people that can hurt you.”

Melisa Campos showed up with her game-face on at North Marion and had a huge game for the Gladiators. The 5-3 junior guard scored a game-high 15 points, hitting 3-of-4 3-pointers. She also sparked the Gladiator offense with five assists, and she came up with three steals.

Senior guard Nichole Petersen hit 4-of-5 shots from the floor and tallied nine points.

Mikaela Simac was her usual self on defense, stealing the sphere five times.

The Gladiators put the game away in the second quarter, when they outscored their hosts 20-5.

With the win the Gladiators finished the league season with a record of 8-2. They finished second in the Tri-Valley Conference to La Salle, which went undefeated in conference play.

The Gladiators continued on track last Friday, upending Scappoose 39-24 in a Class 4A state play-in game at Gladstone.

The win was sweet indeed for the Gladiators, many of whom had played on a Gladstone High School soccer team that lost to Scappoose in last fall’s Class 4A girls soccer quarterfinals.

The Gladiators, in a team game, worked their offense like a well-oiled machine, building a 14-7 lead in the first quarter and a 27-13 lead by the intermission. Scappoose turned from a man-to-man to a zone defense in the second half, and the Gladiators slowed the pace of play and maintained their lead for the win.

It was one of the lowest scoring games of the season for the Indians, who entered the contest averaging 45 points an outing.

“We played really good defense,” said Scott. “Holding someone to 24 points and single digits in four quarters is really good.”

Simac (5 steals), Melissa Campos (4 steals) and Fiona Burrell (3 steals) headed up the defensive effort.

Simac guarded Scappoose offensive leader Lacey Updike and held her scoreless.

The Gladiators were equally sharp on offense, shooting at better than a .500 clip from the field, dropping in 14-of-27 field goals, including five 3-pointers.

Burrell (11 points) and Webster (9 points) led a balanced offense. Burrell was 4-of-6 from the field, with two treys. Nichole Petersen, Campos and Webster also scored from “downtown.”

Alicia Feb held her own with Scappoose’s physical posts, hauling down 10 rebounds and dishing out three assists.

It was the second time the Gladiators had defeated Scappoose in girls basketball this season. They eked out a 37-32 win over the Indians in the opening round of the Happy Rock Hoop Holiday, held in Gladstone in mid-December.

The win advanced the tenth-ranked Gladiators (18-7) to a state-playoff showdown at defending state champion and seventh-ranked Mazama (19-3), with the winner earning a spot in the eight-team Class 4A State Tournament.

The two teams met in mid-December in the championship game of the Happy Rock Hoop Holiday, with Mazama finishing on top, 46-28.

“We led in the first quarter,” said Scott. “We went stone cold and went scoreless in the second quarter; and we played them even in the second half....

“They’ve got two outstanding guards and a really good post, but I like our chances. That game and our second game with La Salle showed the girls that when we play our game, we can play with anybody.”

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