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St. Helens barely loses to Sandy, but can't stay with Hermiston
by: John Brewington DRIVING—St. Helens’ Michelle Sass heads to the hoop during last week’s home game with Sandy.

The St. Helens Lady Lions went from one of their better offensive nights of the season to one of their worst efforts in a play-in loss to Hermiston.

The Lady Lions had fought Sandy hard in a back-and-forth game on Tuesday, Feb. 21 but left most of that offense home Friday night in a play-in loss to No. 4-ranked Hermiston.

The Sandy game marked the last Northwest Oregon Conference game of the season and a tie for their highest scoring performance of the season.

The Lady Lions had three players in double figures in the game: Jillian Ross with 13, Monique Smiley with 12, and Michelle Sass with 10.

The club led with just a minute to go in the first period, but were down by just one after one quarter. They kept up the offensive pressure in the second period, had a 13-8 scoring advantage, and led by four at the break, 26-22.

The lead changed hands several times in the second half, and the Lady Lions had a chance to win it on free throws with just eight-tenths of a second left. They missed the first one, but connected on the second to knot the score.

Sandy connected on a three to start the overtime, but Smiley gave St. Helens the lead with two quick buckets. Sandy came back with a basket and two free throws, but Ross added a three to again tie the score. Sandy hit two free throws in the waning seconds to secure the win.

Hermiston 73,

St. Helens 29

St. Helens battled Hermiston in the first period, even scored the first basket of the game. Hermiston pulled ahead 16-10 by the end of one, then forged a 32-15 lead by halftime. St. Helens never recovered in the loss. Smiley led the squad in scoring with 11 in her last game for the team.

'We still competed, still showed up and still played well,' St. Helens coach Billy McKinney said. 'We were down emotionally for the last two weeks-they made me coach. We were still amped up to play. Hermiston had 20 wins and just five losses on the season. The beat Lincoln and are ranked No. 4 (in the OSAA rankings).'

McKinney said he was pleased with Smiley's 11 points and said Abbie Hanson had some good defensive plays.

'Turnovers haunted us as they have all year,' he said. 'We didn't have conference referees and they didn't do us justice, but we're going to get better.'

McKinney said the team had a talk and each girl has committed to continue to come out and continue to work hard.

'We're learning how to compete. We lost three games by two (points), three games by four, one game by five and two by seven,' he noted. 'And we had the overtime game (with Sandy).'

'I told the girls that we were better this year than they were last and two years ago,' he added. 'The girls will go out for track or softball, and we'll play some spring and summer ball. I've got some AAU coaches coming out to work with them and I'll be available to work with two at a time.'

While the Lions lose Smiley, Hanson, and Haley Twilleager, they have most of the team coming back, some girls that are improving, and some good prospects coming in from the eighth grade.

McKinney said he's learned a lot this season and he expects the team will be even more competitive next season, depending on who comes out. He's working with the younger girls programs and believes the program will improve each year.


Sandy 57, St. Helens 55 OT

Sandy 14 8 14 13 9-57

St. Helens 13 13 11 11 7-55

Sandy (57)-Tammy Joseph 16, Taelor Cansler 11, Bella McCarthy 10, Nutt 7, Birdsong 4, Warren 4.

St. Helens (55)-Jillian Ross 13, Monique Smiley 12, Michelle Sass 10, Twilleager 8, Sharp 6, Mulcahy 4, Hanson 2, Sukau.

Hermiston 73, St. Helens 29

St. Helens 10 5 6 8-29

Hermiston 16 16 17 24-73

St. Helens (29)-Monique Smiley 11, Ross 6, Sass 4, Hanson 2, Sharp 2, Sukau 2, Kyle-Milward 2, Giesbers, Tupper, Bartolomucci, Roth.

Hermiston (73)-Moss 18, Hoffert 12, Flug 8, Crowe 7, Lawson 7, Crossley 5, Foley 5, Byrd 5, Walchi 4, Waters 2, Headings.

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