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Sunset rallies past Tigard to get tourney bid

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The Apollos advance with a 56-49 win in Saturday's state playoff game

DAN BROOD - Sunset seniors Rose Pflug (left) and Maddie Muhlheim hug following the Apollos' 56-49 win over Tigard in Saturday's state playoff game.TIGARD — For the first three quarters, the Tigard High School girls basketball team looked to be at least slightly in charge.

The Tigers, behind the play of super sophomore Campbell Gray, seemed to be just one quarter away from earning a Class 6A state tournament bid.

But things changed in that decisive fourth quarter — wow, did they ever change.

The Sunset squad, behind the play of determined seniors Maddie Muhlheim and Rose Pflug, came roaring back in a big way.

DAN BROOD - Tigard sophomore Campbell Gray (3) looks to drive between Sunset seniors Amanda Carpenter (11) and Maddie Muhlheim during Saturday's state playoff game. Gray scored a game-high 24 points in the contest.The Apollos, after trailing Tigard 45-39 with 7 minutes and 6 seconds left to play in the contest, outscored the Tigers 20-4 the rest of the way to get a 56-49 victory in the Class 6A state playoff second round game played Saturday at Tigard High School.

"I'm so excited," said Muhlheim, who scored a team-high 19 points in the contest. "We've worked so long for this. I don't even have words to describe it. This feels really good."

"This means a lot to us, especially for the seniors," said Pflug, who scored eight of her 11 points in the decisive fourth quarter. "We've worked all four years to get to the Chiles Center, and we're all super close. This means the world to us."

DAN BROOD - Sunset junior Delaney Ragan goes up to the basket in front of Tigard sophomore Campbell Gray.DAN BROOD - Tigard sophomore post Dani Lyons shoots over Sunset senior Maddie Muhlheim.With the victory, Sunset, the No. 2 team out of the Metro League, and the No. 10 team in the final OSAA power rankings, improved to 20-6 on the season. The Apollos also advance to the Class 6A state tournament for the first time since 2008. They'll open the tournament on Thursday, when they face defending Class 6A state champion South Salem in a quarterfinal game starting at 8:15 p.m. at the University of Portland's Chiles Center.

"We're going to have to keep being ourselves and be ready to go," Muhlheim said.

"This is what we've wanted to do since Day 1," Pflug said. "Winning a championship would be good, but we're going to take it one game at a time."

DAN BROOD - Sunset freshman Mary Kay Naro passes the ball as she's pressured by Tigard sophomores Paige LaFountain (11) and Campbell Gray.DAN BROOD - Tigard junior Gabby McGaughey (right) looks to power her way to the basket against Sunset junior Delaney Ragan.Tigard, the Three Rivers League champion, and the No. 7 team in the OSAA power rankings, finished it season with a final record of 19-7.

"We came into this game first in league, and seventh in the state," said Tigard senior Kylie Warren, who finished up a four-year varsity career with the Tigers. "That's a big accomplishment. I had a lot of fun here. It was a great experience."

"We didn't expect to get this far, and no one else thought so, either," said Gray, who scored a game-high 24 points in Saturday's contest. "This was a great season for us. Today, we came out strong, but in the end, they wanted it more. They deserved it."

DAN BROOD - Sunset senior Rose Pflug looks to drive to the baseline against Tigard senior Abby Portwood.Gray, and the Tigers, certainly did come out strong in Saturday's playoff contest. The sophomore guard scored 12 points in the first quarter. Tigard also got baskets from Warren and senior Lexie Sawin in the period, helping the Tigers take a 16-12 lead into the second quarter.

"Campbell came out loaded for bear," Tigard coach Steve Naylor said. "She set the tone early."

The Tigers kept rolling after that. Warren sank a pair of jump shots, the second coming off an assist from junior Gabby McGaughey, and senior Abby Portwood buried a three-pointer from the left side, upping the Tigard lead to 23-16 with 3:19 left in the first half.

It looked like the Tigers would have a chance to increase their lead from there, as Pflug and Sunset senior Amanda Carpenter were both on the bench for most of the second quarter with two fouls apiece.

DAN BROOD - Tigard sophomore Campbell Gray looks to get past Sunset senior Maddie Muhlheim during Saturday's state playoff game.DAN BROOD - Sunset senior Maddie Muhlheim (15) looks to pass the ball over Tigard junior Gabby McGaughey."That was frustrating," Pflug said. "But our underclassmen have been working hard, and I trusted them. I knew they'd come through."

They did.

Freshman guard Mary Kay Naro, junior guard Delaney Ragan and sophomore post Ellie Mead all had baskets for the Apollos in the period. And Muhlheim's two free throws, coming with 7.1 seconds left to play in the quarter, cut Tigard's lead to 25-22 at halftime.

The Apollos carried their momentum into the third quarter. Naro opened the third quarter with a layup. Pflug followed with a three-point play and Ragan scored on a drive, giving Sunset a 29-25 lead with 5:55 left in the period.

DAN BROOD - Tigard coach Steve Naylor, the Three Rivers League Coach of the Year, watches the action during Saturday's state playoff game.DAN BROOD - Tigard senior Kylie Warren (left) plays tight defense against Sunset sophomore Ellie Mead during Saturday's state playoff game.Now, it was Tigard's turn to play catch-up — and the Tigers were up to the challenge.

Tigard, getting three-pointers from McGaughey and freshman Delaney Leavitt, and hoops from sophomore post Dani Lyons and Campbell in the final minute of the period, rallied to take a 40-36 lead into the fourth quarter.

Gray kept playing big for Tigard early in the fourth quarter. She opened the period with a layup, off a pass from Warren, and then, following a three-pointer by Pflug, she answered with a three-point basket of her own, giving the Tigers a 45-39 advantage with 7:06 left to play in the game.

DAN BROOD - Tigard senior Abby Portwood connects on a three-pointer during Saturday's state playoff game.DAN BROOD - Sunset senior Maddie Muhlheim brings the ball up court on a fast break during Saturday's state playoff game at Tigard.But Sunset, determined not to be denied, took off from there in a big way.

Muhlheim drained a 23-foot three-pointer, Naro scored on a layup off an assist by Muhlheim, and Pflug sank a three-pointer, giving the Apollos an 8-0 run in a time span of 1:01, and, more importantly, a 47-45 lead with 5:29 left in the contest.

Gray sank a free throw to cut the lead to 47-46 with 3:52 remaining, but the Tigers wouldn't be able to regain the lead, as Sunset took off again.

DAN BROOD - Tigard sophomore Campbell Gray (right) takes a shot over Sunset senior Amanda Carpenter.Muhlheim connected on another three-pointer, and then Pflug and Muhlheim both went 2 for 2 from the foul line, pushing the Apollo lead to 54-46 with 1:11 left to play.

Warren sank a pair of free throws to trim the margin to 54-48 with 44.2 seconds left, but Muhlheim answered with two free throws with 20.5 seconds left to play, to help wrap up the 56-49 victory, and ignite Sunset's victory celebration.

"I was so emotional," Muhlheim said with a smile. "I was crying even before the ended. This was so much fun. I was so excited for this game."

DAN BROOD - Sunset senior Maddie Muhlheim drives between Tigard junior Gabby McGaughey (left) and freshman Delaney Leavitt.DAN BROOD - Sunset senior Claire Salness (left) is fouled by Tigard sophomore Dani Lyons as she tries to go up to the basket in Saturday's state playoff game."Yeah, it was a lot of fun," Pflug said.

Sunset, in the decisive fourth quarter, made five of seven shots from the field, with four three-pointers — two each by Muhlheim and Pflug. The Apollo defense also stepped up, as the Tigers made just two of 13 shots from the field in the final stanza.

"We knew it was do or die," Pflug said of the fourth-quarter rally. "It was lose and go home, and we wanted to keep playing."

"We've had good comebacks before," Muhlheim said. "That helped. And our defense was excellent in the fourth quarter."

DANB BROOD - Sunset freshman Mary Kay Naro (12) is surrounded by Tigard's (from left) Delaney Leavitt, Campbell Gray and Gabby McGaughey.Muhlheim scored 15 of her team-high 19 points in the second half, including 10 in the fourth quarter. Pflug scored all 11 of her points in the second half, while also pulling down four rebounds.

Naro also reached double figures with 12 points. Ragan added nine points.

Sunset, as a team, made 19 of 29 shots from the field, with six three-pointers, and 12 of 22 free-throw attempts.

For Tigard, Gray had four rebounds and two assists to go with her game-high 24 points. Warren finished with nine points, six rebounds and three assists. Portwood, McGaughey and Leavitt added three points apiece for the Tigers.

"That was a physical game," Gray said. "We played hard, but Maddie and Rose are great players."

DAN BROOD - The Sunset High School girls basketball team starts celebrating following the 56-49 state playoff win at Tigard on Saturday."They hit their shots in the fourth quarter. They were great," Warren said. "A couple of those shots, it was just like 'what can you do?' It just fell that way."

"Shout out to Tigard," Pflug said. "Campbell and Kylie played great. They're a real good team."

"We had a great year," Naylor said. "I thought that if we finished in the top four in league, that would be great. To win it was quite an accomplishment. We had some missed assignments tonight, but I can't fault the effort. I'm really proud of the girls."

Tigard made 18 of 48 shots from the field, with four three-pointers, and nine of 15 free-throw attempts. The Tigers had just five turnovers for the contest, while Sunset had seven.