PREPS: Third place slips away from Grant girls
For a while on Saturday, members of the Grant High girls basketball team were cruising, high-fiving and genuinely enjoying their final game of the season.
But down the stretch, the talent and determination of South Salem senior Evina Westbrook couldn't be matched.
Westbrook, a 6-foot-guard heading to Tennessee for her college ball, scored 21 of her 28 points in the second half as the Saxons overcame a 21-point deficit and beat Grant 58-53 to win third place at the Oregon School Activities Association Class 6A tournament.
Grant took fifth place and finished the season 25-4.
"A very frustrating game," Grant sophomore point guard Amaya Aldridge said. "Especially since we know how good we are. To go out with two losses kind of hurts."
Khiarica Rasheed of Grant finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, three assists and two steals in her final high school game. Fellow senior Nina Radford had 16 points, and sophomore Daryn Hickok scored 15.
Grant led 24-8 after the first quarter and was up 29-8 after Radford hit a 3-pointer with 6:27 left in the second quarter.
The Generals scored 24 points the rest of the way and were outscored in 15-6 in the fourth quarter.
"We're a momentum team. We build off of momentum and energy. Something happened around the end of the first quarter and it just went down," Hickok said. "I'd have to re-watch the game to see what happened. One minute we're all running and high-fiving and the next minute we're walking back with our hands down."
Hands down, a big part of the momentum shift was Westbrook's assertive play. One of the most highly-touted players in the Class of 2017, Westbrook went to the foul line 17 times in the second half, making 13 free throws. Westbrook also had eight of her 11 rebounds and all three of her assists after halftime.
Another factor, Hickok acknowledged, was a change in the South Salem defense from man-to-man to a trapping zone.
After shooting 46.4 percent in the first half, the Generals shot 23.3 percent in the second half, including 1 of 9 on 3-pointers.