Lady Lions make it five wins in a row
Squad thumps David Douglas, overcomes Benson over holidays
The St. Helens Lady Lions waded deep into uncharted waters on Thursday and Friday with their fourth and fifth straight wins on the season.
The team thumped David Douglas on Thursday night, 46-31, and then played their best game in years with a come-from-behind win over a tough Benson team, 58-52.
The girls basketball program hasnt won that many games in a row since the 1990s when they were in the Cowapa League. Their six overall wins also date back over 12 years.
St. Helens had started the season with a win over 4A Scappoose, but then lost four straight, two of them very close.
The team got back on the winning track, beating North Salem 47-36 on Dec. 14 in the first round of the Benson Tournament. They followed that with a win over Rex Putnam, a Northwest Oregon Conference rival, on the second night of the tournament. Then there was the narrow 45-42 victory over Jefferson, followed by the wins over David Douglas and Benson this past week.
St. Helens 46, David Douglas 31
St. Helens dominated 6A David Douglas on Thursday night. David Douglas is by far the largest school in the state with over 3,100 students. Thats three times the 1,000 listed for St. Helens.
Sophomore Rianne Tupper had her best game of the season with 14 points, six of them in the first period. She hit the first basket of the game, and then senior Jillian Ross plunked in a three. St. Helens was off to the races with an 18-7 first period and the Lady Scots never got closer. Ross would have two threes in the first period and finish the game as the No. 2 scorer with 13 points. She had three threes on the night and took control of the offense.
That was Riannes first start, Coach Billy McKinney said. She had a pretty good practice and we thought wed take a chance. She was a little worried about it, but Jillian and Michelle (Sass) told her shed be fine. She could be a break-out super star.
With four points each from Tupper and Ross, the Lady Lions hardly slowed down in the second period. By halftime they had a 32-15 lead. St. Helens quickly upped their lead to 24 points early in the third period with baskets from Tupper, Nicole Harcourt, and Ross. Then they eased off the gas and David Douglas narrowed the margin over the rest of the game.
McKinney noted, Wed had three days off from practice and I worked them pretty hard on Tuesday. They came out (against David Douglas) and looked like the team Ive been dreaming about. They were very coachable down the stretch. Jillian took the bull by the horns (in directing the offense). You can see it in their faces, they just refuse to lose.
St. Helens 58, Benson 52
The Lady Lions never gave up Friday night, came from behind several times, and in the end let Jillian Ross put the game on ice from the free throw line.
The win was truly a team effort with most everyone making big contributions at one point or another. Michelle Sass, Rianne Tupper, Ross, and Lucy Kyle-Milward all played roles in the first period. Although the Lady Lions led three times in the period, they were behind at the end. Midway through the second frame they trailed by eight.
It was Brittney Bartolomucci that brought them back in the second She hit two threes and two free throws win a two-minute span to knot the score. Sass put St. Helens in front twice with two big threes, and Bartolomucci hit another to again give St. Helens the lead. Still free throws at the end gave Benson a one-point advantage at the break.
Benson sprinted out to a lead in the third quarter, holding a nine-pint edge, 36-27, but St. Helens didnt give up. Ross hit two threes, Sass two free throws and a field goal, and the Lady Lions were within two. They fell behind again and were down five going into the fourth.
The Lady Lions owned the fourth period. Nicole Harcourt hit two big buckets to narrow the gap. Ross and Sass then hit two treys to give St. Helens the lead.
St. Helens strategy was clear. They got the in Ross hands and forced Benson to foul her. Ross then worked some magic at the line. She connected on nine straight free throws before missing a meaningless shot at the end.
Ross would lead the Lady Lions and the game with 22 points, 12 of those in the last period. Sass added 17 with four threes and Bartolomucci had 11 with three treys. St. Helens had nine threes in the game.
McKinney said the team was now the talk of the leagueonly Milwaukie has a better preseason record. St. Helens committed just four turnovers in the first half against David Douglas, and also got past the third-quarter jinx that has haunted them for the past few years.
The coach said the squad still has some things to work on, and will have some tough games in the NWOC. He felt they had moved up a notch or two, but still are probably sitting as the fourth-best team in the conference. One other problem is that due to injuries and eligibility issues, the whole program is down to 13 players. That means a number of players are playing both jayvees and varsity. A player can participate in five quarters of basketball a night.
St. Helens 46, David Douglas 31
David Douglas 7 8 8 831
St. Helens 18 14 11 346
David Douglas (31)Mercede Johnson 8, Kuehl 6, Tower 5, Bynum 3, Schoen 2, Phonasa 2, Whitcomb 2, Clark 2, Fanning 1.
St. Helens (46)Rianne Tupper 14, Jillian Ross 13, Harcourt 7, Sass 7, Bartolomucci 3, Amick 2, Kyle-Milward, Roth.
St. Helens 58, Benson 52
Benson 13 15 16 852
St. Helens 10 17 12 1958
Benson (52)ShaQuinn Cook 18, Tera James 11, Taylor Trujillo 11, Leon 8, Burton 4.
St. Helens (58)Jillian Ross 22, Michelle Sass 17, Brittney Bartolomucci 11, Harcourt 4, Tupper 2, Kyle-Milward 2, Amick, Roth.