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Lady Lions win Benson Tournament title

Team tops North Salem, Putnam for tourney title and first back-to-back wins in years


by: JOHN BREWINGTON - Jillian Ross goes up for two during recent game.The St. Helens Lady Lions put together two good back-to-back wins for the first time in a long, long time and they took first in the Benson Tournament last Friday and Saturday night.

The two wins came after four straight losses for the Lady Lions and boosted their season mark to 3-4. They won three games all of last season.

“I would say it’s a breakthrough for us,” St. Helens Coach Billy McKinney said. “We can let this be something to carry us forward.”

St. Helens won the finals short-handed as well. One of their players, Ashley Sharp, broke her leg and is out for several weeks. Two other players were missing due to other commitments.

St. Helens fell behind North Salem in the first period, 12-7, but rallied in the second period behind eight points from post Lucy Kyle-Milward and a three from Jillian Ross. The match was tied 20-20 at the break.

In the second half, St. Helens spread out the scoring. They outscored the Vikings 12-9 for a slim lead in the third, played good defense and made enough free throws (9-17) down the stretch to cement the win.

Ross led all scorers with 15 and Kyle-Milward was also in double figures with 10.

“Jillian stepped it us for us,” McKinney said. “She had 15 against North Salem and 16 at Hood River (on Tuesday).”

The win sent St. Helens into the finals against Rex Putnam, a team they will face twice more in Northwest Oregon Conference play later in the season. Putnam topped Benson 51-33 on Friday night.

St. Helens had a thin one-point lead over Putnam after one period, but could score just six in the second period and were down by four, 21-17, at the half.

McKinney said Michelle Sass snapped out of something of a slump in her previous two games, and that helped spark the Lady Lions.”

“She missed a couple of shots, but when she hit a long-range three (late in the first quarter) I could see a light came on. She was hitting from way beyond the three-point line.”

Sass unloaded on Putnam in the third with 11 points, including two threes, and the Lady Lions took a three-point margin into the fourth period. They only scored eight in the fourth, but held Putnam to just six for a five-point, 43-38 win.

“We're starting to win and we want to be confident, but not over-confident,” McKinney added.

He noted that the win over Putnam gives St. Helens something of a psychological edge as league play begins early next month.

St. Helens had played Hood River Valley on Tuesday last week, but came out flat after the long bus ride up the Columbia River Gorge. The team rallied to close the gap, but in the end would fall 44-39 to the now 5-1 Eagles.

It was a game McKinney thought they should have won, and should be able to win if they played again.

Those two teams were tied at eight points apiece after one period, but an 11-5 second period gave HRV the lead. St. Helens would close the gap to three with a 17-point third period, but Hood River had a two-point advantage in the final frame.

Ross led St. Helens with 16 points, and Nicole Harcourt was also in double figures with 12.

The Lady Lions don't have another holiday tournament on their schedule, but they do have several games slated. They will be home for their next four games.

The Lady Lions host Jefferson this Friday, then take off a few days over Christmas before hosting David Douglas on Dec. 27, and Benson on Dec 28. The team opens league play with Liberty visiting on Tuesday, Jan. 8.

Scoring:

Friday, Dec. 14

St. Helens 47, North Salem 36

St. Helens 7 13 12 15—47

N. Salem 12 8 9 7—36

St. Helens (47)—Jillian Ross 15, Lucy Kyle-Milward 10, Harcourt 7, Sharpe 5, Bartolomucci 4, Bingaman 3, Tupper 3, Roth, Amick, Hembree, Sass.

North Salem (36)—Sabrina Perdersen 10, Davis 9, Woods 7, Alosa 4, Zarate 2, Rust 2, Scott 2, Fitzle.

Saturday, Dec. 15

St. Helens 43, Putnam 38

St. Helens 11 6 18 8—43

Putnam 10 11 11 6—38

St. Helens (43)—Michelle Sass 18, Bartolomucci 9, Harcourt 8, Ross 5, Amick 2, Bingaman, Roth.

Rex Putnam (38)—Kelsea Baton 12, Schooley 7, Bolander 6, VanLeuven 4, Ziegler 4, D'Avergne 3, Simpson 2, Manzano, Arendell, Armsberry, Hager.

Tuesday, Dec. 11

Hood River 44, St. Helens 39

St. Helens 8 5 17 9—39

Hood River 8 11 14 11—44

St. Helens (44)—Jillian Ross 16, Nicole Harcourt 12, Amick 4, Sharp 4, Bartolomucci 2, Sass 1, Kyle- Milward, Tupper, Bingaman.