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Girls basketball: Scappoose rolls past Philomath

Sophomore Alyssa Spang leads with 14 points


Photo Credit: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Sophomore Alyssa Spang fights through a pair of defenders on her way to the rim against Philomath on Tuesday. Spang scored 14 points to lead the Indians.Last season, it was a rarity for “baby steps” to skip out of any interview with Tribe girls basketball coach David Spirlin. The senior-heavy Indians were learning a new system and making small improvements week by week, and for the first few games of the current campeign, Spirlin returned to his favorite catch phrase.

But ever since losing a heartbreaker to Marshfield on Dec. 22, Spirlin hasn't mentioned steps of any kind.

Scappoose muscled their way past Philomath on Tuesday night, beating the Warriors 41-23 for their fourth consecutive victory and their fifth in the last six games. And according to Spirlin, it all rests on the choice to stick with a zone defensive look.

“Our winning streak coincides with us playing more zone,” Spirlin said. “We're not real quick qwhen it comes to footspeed as a team, not counting Alyssa [Spang], so me putting them in a zone gives them the best opportunity to get to the right spot, close off the area.”

The starting lineup often features six-foot sophomore post Kaylie Kopra anchoring the center of the floor, with five-foot-10 junior Kendal Bailey and freshman Hannah Galey flanking her on either side. Senior Sara Tinning and Spang, the speedy sophomore point guard, harrass offenses at the top of the three point line.

When an offense manages to get the ball past Spang's sticky hands, which didn't happen as often as Philomath would have liked, they have to deal with a back line quickly growing in confidence and ability. Kopra finished with at least two blocks without even leaving the floor, simply keeping her hands up and her feet firmly set. Once the Indians have the ball back, they show off an improved ability to push up the court.

Dealing with a press, which Philomath attempted while trying to rally in the final minutes of the forth quarter, was a major struggle for last years group. Spirlin, time and again, said they'd continue to be pressed until they managed to consistantly burn teams for their aggressiveness. Now, the team has reached a point at which Philomath risked a fast-break bucket any time they put two players in a full-court press.

Several of those buckets came via the sharp hands of Galey, who was often a recpient out outlet passes from Spang and Tinning. Galey several times managed to snap a pass out of the air, and finished with six points.

Bailey and Kopra, the Indians' 1-2 punch down low, combined for eight points and 14 rebounds, helping to draw the Warriors into foul trouble and put Scappoose on the line.

“Post players are wide open if you get double teamed — we call it the buddy system,” Spirlin said. “Two post players in the game, you always look for your buddy first. It's starting to click, they're starting to understand where the opening is and to take advantage of the double teams, especially in the post.”

Spang finished with 14 points, five steals, two rebounds and an assist to lead Scappoose. Spirlin said he's given Spang “more rope” to attack defenses on the break, as she has a knack for getting results at the rim.

“It won't work without her. She gets steals I don't expect her to get. She gets a hand in the passing lane, and she'll go one-on-two and finish. And she'll get fouled and go to the free-throw line,” Spirlin said. “I kinda let her loose. There are times where we don't have the advantage number-wise, and I won't even say anything. I'll say, 'Okay, go for it.'”

The four wins make for the longest winning streak since the 2006-07 season, when the Indians won six consecutive games from Dec. 12 to Dec. 29. The team finished with a 23-5 record, and took fourth place at the 4A state tournament in Corvallis.

Scappoose will take to the road for their next contest, matching up with Corbett (2-11) on Friday at 5:30 p.m.

SUMMARY

Scappoose 41, Philomath 23

PHIL 6 6 5 6 — 23

SCAP 8 12 14 7 — 41

Scoring: Spang 14, Sykes 1, Tinning 8, Bailey 1, Galey 6, Kopra 7

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