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Tigard battles its way to fourth place at the Nike Interstate Shootout

by: DAN BROOD - IT'S MINE -- Tigard senior Megan Risinger keeps the ball away from South Salem's Jenessa Bodine (22) and Katie Donovan in Saturday's gameLAKE OSWEGO — Defense.

It’s only one word — one two-syllable word.

But that word means a lot to the Tigard High School girls basketball team.

And the Tigard’s swarming defense seems to speak loud and clear.

The Tigers certainly must have taught South Salem the meaning of the word as they totally shut down the Saxons on their way to posting a 43-18 win in the Swoosh Bracket fourth-place semifinal game of the Nike Interstate Shootout, held Saturday at Lake Oswego High School.

“We stepped it up from last game (a 54-38 tourney quarterfinal loss to Central Catholic),” said Tigard junior guard Emilee Cincotta, who had seven first-half steals in Saturday’s game. “We take a lot of pride in our defense. We work hard to get it right.”

“We’re working harder every game,” Tigard senior post Meeka Mayhew said.

“We’re playing more as a team,” Cincotta added.

South Salem fell to 6-4 on the season at that point with the setback.

by: DAN BROOD - JUMPER -- Tigard High School junior guard Lexi Carter (5) goes up high to shoot a jump shot over South Salem defenders, including Payton Wilcox (10) and Katie Donovan. Tigard beat the Saxons 43-18. Tigard, which went on to defeat highly regarded Westview in Sunday’s tourney fourth-place game, improved to 6-3 at that point.

“We got back to playing defense like we should,” Tigard coach Steve Naylor said.

And the Tigers, with their zone attack, started playing their brand of stifling defense right from the start of Saturday’s game.

South Salem, not getting a good look at the basket, missed all 11 of its shots from the field in the first quarter of the contest. The Saxons scored just one point in the period, coming on a free throw by junior Jenessa Bodine coming with 3 minutes and 27 seconds left in the quarter.

Tigard also had some first-quarter offensive struggles. But the Tigers got a layup by senior Megan Risinger, off an assist from Mayhew, a basket on a drive to the hoop by Cincotta and a pair of free throws by Risinger to claim a 6-1 lead at the end of the opening period.

Junior guard Lexi Carter opened the scoring for Tigard in the second quarter with back-to-back baskets, giving the Tigers a 10-2 lead with 5:15 left in the period.

Cincotta followed with 5-foot jumper following a steal and Carter then scored on a baseline drive to up the Tigard lead to 14-2 with 3:52 remaining before halftime.

South Salem, which went 0-for-13 from the field to start the game, got its first field goal of the contest — a three-point bank shot by junior Naomi Wasser — to make the score 14-5 with 3:35 left in the second quarter.

But Tigard closed out the period with baskets by senior post Julia Santos and Cincotta to claim an 18-5 halftime lead.

The Tigers opened the second half with jumpers by Cincotta and Mayhew to push their lead to 22-7 with 6:12 left in the third quarter.

Then, after South Salem got a basket from junior Katie Donovan, Tigard went on another run. The Tigers got a layup by Risinger off a pass from Carter, a pair of free throws by Carter and back-to-back baskets by Mayhew and Santos, both coming off assists from Cincotta, to push the lead to 30-9 with 1:46 remaining in the quarter.

South Salem got a late layup by senior Payton Wilcox to make the score 30-11 going into the fourth quarter.

Tigard kept rolling in the final stanza. Mayhew had a pair of baskets in the period and junior Courtney Roshak sank a three-pointer to help the Tigers close out the 43-18 victory.

“It was awesome,” Mayhew said in regard to the win. “Everyone played well.”

“We needed this game,” Cincotta said. “It will help our confidence. It was one of our better games.”

“The girls were hungry and they were really focused on defense,” Naylor said.

Cincotta, Carter and Mayhew each scored eight points to lead a balanced Tigard scoring attack in the victory. Cincotta also had nine steals and five rebounds and Mayhew had a team-high six rebounds.

“Our main emphasis is steals,” Cincotta said. “We want to get a lot of those.”

Risinger had six points to go with three steals and three rebounds. Santos scored six points and freshman post Elise Conroy had four rebounds and three blocked shots.

Tigard, as a team, made 19 of 49 shots from the field. The Tigers also outrebounded South Salem by a 30-19 margin and they had just 11 turnovers, compared to 23 for the Saxons.

South Salem, as a team, made just seven of 31 shots from the field.

Wilcox and Donovan each scored four points to lead the Saxons.

Tigard opened the tournament last Thursday with a 40-33 first-round win over Jesuit.

Carter paced the Tigers in that victory with 17 points. Risinger scored 10 while Santos and Cincotta each scored five.

On Friday, Tigard fell 54-38 to eventual tourney champion Central Catholic. Carter led Tigard in that contest with 14 points and Risinger scored 12.

The Tigers finished tourney play Sunday with a 44-31 win over Westview in the fourth-place game.

Mayhew paced Tigard with 15 points in the win. Carter scored 12 and Cincotta had 10.

Tigard will be back in action Friday when it plays at Newberg in a Pacific Conference opener set to start at 5:45 p.m. On Tuesday, the Tigers will travel to Glencoe for a league game set to start at 7:15 p.m.

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