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Lady Pioneers falter in finale

The Sandy girls basketball failed to erase dismal first half and fell to Milwaukie, 37-34


The Sandy girls’ basketball team gave a commendable showing in the second half of its regular season finale against Milwaukie. Unfortunately for the Pioneers, they also had to count the first half.

Sandy fell to the Mustangs 37-34 as it couldn’t quite overcome a severe offensive drought in the opening two periods.

The Pioneers started the game without any indications that their offense would sputter. Molly Nutt drilled an early 3-pointer and Raquel Pellecer lifted in a layup mid-way through the opening quarter, and Sandy was just a bucket behind at 7-5. They only scored two more points in the entire first half.

“I thought we started with good energy, then I don’t know what happened,” Sandy coach Ryan Alexander said. “I told the girls that if I knew what the difference was after that I would bottle it up and sell it.”

After Pellecer’s first-quarter layup, everything was just a little off for the Pioneers. Their cuts weren’t as sharp as they should be, their passes did not have enough zip on them and they committed unforced turnovers. Sandy’s shooting mechanics appeared fine, but it could not get anything to fall through the nylon. The Pioneers had several shots that looked in to everyone on the floor, but they all squirted out of the cylinder.

With Sandy’s offensive reeling, Milwaukie went on a 9-0 run to take a 16-5 lead. Pellecer ended the run with another layup four minutes into the second quarter, but the Mustangs scored seven unanswered points to close the half with a 23-7 advantage.

“We just didn’t have the energy and attitude that we needed,” Alexander said. “It really came down to our effort.”

Sandy got an immediate spark in the second half when Brooke McAllester scooped in a reverse layup. The Pioneers were energized and started fighting to claw back into the game. They made up a few points in the third quarter, but still trailed by double digits going into the fourth.

With 4:20 remaining, Sandy still found itself down by 12 points, but then the Pioneers caught a break. Milwaukie’s Karissa Delaunay was called for a technical foul when she swung her elbows in an attempt to free herself from Sandy’s Dalen Richardson. Pellecer made both free throws following the technical and Sandy was awarded possession of the ball. Nutt made a wide-open layup off the inbounds pass, turning Delaunay’s technical foul into a four-point swing.

Nutt cut Milwaukie’s lead to five points with a 3-pointer with 2:25 left and Sandy then took to fouling the Mustangs to stop the clock. Milwaukie was efficient from the line and never let the Pioneers get close enough. Nutt sank another 3-pointer at the buzzer, but the Pioneers were still three points short.

“Our intensity was a lot better in the second half and we played a lot harder,” Alexander said. “We’ve shown that we can be alright if we play with that intensity for a full 32 minutes.”

Pellecer paced the Pioneers’ split-personality offense with 16 points while Nutt had 13.

Sandy finished the regular season with a winning record of 12-11. The Pioneers were ranked No. 24 in the final Class 5A rankings and earned a play-in game with No. 9 Wilson. Sandy faced Wilson in the preseason and led that game at halftime before eventually losing 28-21.

View a photo gallery from the game at parkerlee.exposuremanager.com.