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Girls basketball: Indians make strides in loss to No. 8 Marshfield

Head coach David Spirlin said the team made baby steps, but "bigger baby steps" in near comeback


Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Scappoose junior Kendal Bailey follows her shot in the second half of Monday's game against Marshfield. Scappoose trailed big in the first and third quarters, but came one possession away from beating the No. 11 Pirates.As is usual with David Spirlin, the second-year head coach of Scappoose girls basketball, it's all about progress. “Baby steps” was his favorite go-to phrase in his first season, and on Monday evening, Spirlin brought it back up for air.

This time, baby steps had an interesting context. Scappoose at times struggled to score and dropped their fifth game in succession, but managed to rally from seven points down and put themselves in a chance to win the game.

The Indians dropped the contest 32-31 to Marshfield, and while it doesn't take away from the check mark in the 'L' column, Spirlin said he sees it as the team finally moving forward — and doing it against the No. 8 team in Class 4A.

“We're still in the baby steps, but this was a little bigger baby step today,” he said. “I can't complain about their effort. They work their tails off for loose balls.”

Spirlin put more of an emphasis on the second-half hustle but for most of the 32-minute contest, the Indians were everywhere after the 50-50 balls. Alyssa Spang dove to the floor, as did freshman Lea Brodala, fully extending an arm to grab possession before Spirlin called time out.

It's the kind of formula Spirlin can work with. They're far from fine-tuning, but the hard work is beginning to show through.

“Either we tied them up or we got loose balls or kids are diving on the floor for me to get the ball, and that's all I can ask,” Spirlin said. “They make the effort. We're getting there. It's a slow process, but we have to learn how to win.”

The progress was distinctly evident midway through the fourth quarter. Scappoose had just come out of a brutal nine-minute stretch in which they were held without a field goal for 11 minutes. They'd last scored to tie the game up at 16 with 90 seconds left before halftime. They got a single point at the line in the third quarter, and couldn't find a rhythm.

Then junior forward Kendal Bailey stepped in and started eating the painted area for breakfast. Bailey scored six consecutive points for Scappoose in a crucial stretch, points which kept the Indians neck-and-neck with Marshfield.

It was a far cry from a frustrating 42-19 loss on Dec. 15 to Salem Academy in which Scappoose struggled to score from right in front of the rim. Teams seem to understand — something Spirlin reiterated — that the way to beat Scappoose is to put pressure on the bigs under the basket and work to deny them the ball.

Marshfield played inside defense to a 'T,' throwing double and even triple teams at Tribe post Kaylie Kopra, and muscling Bailey every time she tried to catch the ball. But this time, there was a difference.

“We got Kendall the ball, and Kendall finished,” Spirlin said. “There's nothing like good post play to keep you in a game. She did a really good job in the second half of finishing. It puts pressure on the defense when your post player is scoring. She stepped up big time, and that kept us in the game.”

The Indian press, with Spang policing the head of the defense, made life difficult for Marshfield as they attempted to hold on to the ball and watched their lead slip slowly away. Three steals from Spang in the last few minutes opened up opportunities to score on the break.

The improvements on defense and aggressiveness from Bailey on offense were coupled with increased minutes from Hannah Galey and Brodala, a pair of freshman who didn't see much time through the first few games. Spirlin said the reasoning was to get better match ups with a quicker Marshfield team, who often went with four guards and a post. The reasoning aside, it shows a little more trust in some of the youngest players on Spirlin's roster.

All are good signs, though there is plenty of work left to do. One constant is to reach a point where players don't think on the court, only react to what's in front of them.

“Sometimes I can see, when they get the ball in the post, they're thinking about where to drop step,” said Spirlin, who had worked to play from the inside out this season. “You can't be thinking about where to go, it's got to be something we react to.”

One reaction will be dumping the ball off to the open player and making the opposition “pay” for doubling the Tribe post players, Spirlin said.

They'll have a week off for holiday festivities and practice before traveling to meet Hidden Valley in the first round of the Holiday Classic in Stayton on Dec. 29 at noon. Their next home game won't be until Jan. 9 when the Indians host former Cowapa League foe Yamhill-Carlton at 7 p.m.

Kopra nets 16, but Indians fall to Junction City

Kaylie Kopra set a new season-high in points last Friday evening, but it wasn't enough to overcome a rough offensive game as the Indians fell 46-27 on the road to Junction City.

Kopra, who stands as the tallest member of the squad and just a sophomore, put up 16 points in the game and 11 in the first half to go along with a team-high seven rebounds. Kopra made six of eight attempts from the field and hit four of seven attempts at the free throw line.

Kendall Bailey had eight points and Sarah Tinning finished with three points to close the scoring for Scappoose.

SUMMARY

No. 8 Marshfield 32, Scappoose 31

MARS 10 6 4 12 — 32

SCAP 7 9 1 14 — 31

Scoring: Spang 9, Sykes 2, Tinning 6, Bailey 8, Galey 4

UPDATE: The first draft of this story mentioned Marshfield as the No. 8 team. With updated scores from around the state, their ranking has fallen to No. 11.

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