Tigard girls top West Linn in TRL showdown
TIGARD — Standing in the hallway behind the main gym at Tigard High School, Kennedy Brown had a big smile on her face.
She also couldn't stop moving.
Just constant motion. It was like nothing could make her stand still.
"I'm just really, really excited," the Tigard High School sophomore said with a big smile.
Her Tiger girls basketball teammates were also excited — with good reason.
After all they just claimed sole possession of first place in the Three Rivers League standings in impressive style, running to a 65-46 win over West Linn in a league showdown played Wednesday at Tigard High School.
"I'm totally excited," said Brown, who seemed to provide a spark for the Tigers throughout the contest. "I could play another game right now."
"It's huge," Tigard junior post Dani Lyons said of the win. "This was so much fun."
"We had a point to prove," added Tigard senior guard Gabby McGaughey. "We wanted to protect our house."
With the victory, Tigard, which came into the game ranked No. 5 in the Class 6A coaches poll, improved to 3-0 in TRL play (8-3 overall), leaving the Tigers alone atop the league standings.
"That's something," Lyons said. "But there's a long way to go."
"We know that every game matters in this league," McGaughey said.
West Linn moved to 2-1 in TRL games and to 9-2 on the season with the setback.
"Tigard is a great team, and they came to play tonight," West Linn senior guard Lexie Pritchard said. "Every loss, you should learn something from. And we'll learn from this. But, it's a quick flush and it's on to the next one."
The 5-foot-5 Brown, who missed her freshman season due to a knee injury, helped get the Tigers off to a flying start in Wednesday's showdown. She sank a pair of free throws to open the game, and then followed that up with a three-point basket, coming off an assist from junior guard Campbell Gray, giving Tigard a 5-0 lead before the contest was even a minute old.
The Tigers would hold the lead for most of the first quarter. Following a basket on a drive by Gray, and a short-range jumper by sophomore Delaney Leavitt, Tigard would hold a 13-8 advantage with 2 minutes and 40 seconds left to play in first quarter.
But West Linn rallied in a hurry. The Lions, getting a follow-up basket by freshman post Aaronette Vonleh and a three-pointer by Pritchard, tied the game at 13-13 at the end of the opening period.
West Linn carried its momentum into the second quarter. Senior guard Brooke Landis sank a three-pointer to open the period, giving the Lions their first lead of the game, at 16-13. Another Landis three-pointer, and a pair of free throws by Pritchard, helped West Linn up its lead to 23-19 with 5:48 left before halftime.
Tigard came battling back. Getting a follow-up basket by junior Paige LaFountain and a pair of free throws by McGaughey, the home team regained the lead, at 27-24, with 3:39 remaining in the quarter.
But Vonleh, West Linn's powerful 6-3 freshman, answered with three straight baskets, giving her team a 30-27 advantage with 2:19 left in period.
Tigard called time out at that point.
"At that point, we said 'no more zone,'" Tigard coach Steve Naylor said. "We decided to take our chances with a man-to-man defense."
Whatever the Tigers did, it seemed to work.
Following the time out, Tigard got a three-pointer by Brown, off a pass from McGaughey, a steal and layup by Gray, a three-pointer by Leavitt, off another McGaughey assist and a pair of free throws by Lyons, after she came up with a back-court steal, giving the Tigers a 37-31 halftime lead.
Behind its defense, Tigard began to pull away in the third quarter. West Linn, making one of 11 shots from the field, scored just six points in the period.
Tigard got four points each from LaFountain, Gray and Lyons in the quarter. The Tigers capped off the period getting a steal, and a buzzer-beating basket by LaFountain, giving Tigard a 49-37 lead going into the fourth quarter.
The Tigers didn't slow down in the final stanza. Leavitt scored on a baseline drive to open the fourth quarter. LaFountain followed with a three-pointer from the top of the circle, coming off a pass from Lyons. Then, after West Linn got a free throw from freshman Cami Fulcher, LaFountain went 2 for 2 from the stripe, giving Tigard a 56-38 lead with 4:00 left to play in the game.
The Tiger defense made sure that was more than enough.
West Linn made just one of nine shots from the field in the fourth quarter, making the Lions 2 for 20 in the second half, as Tigard cruised to the 65-46 win.
"It was impressive and unexpected," Naylor said. "That's a real talented team that we got on top of tonight. It was our best game of the year so far."
"I thought we played really great tonight, especially on defense," Brown said. "We dove for all of the 50/50 balls. I think we outworked them."
"We all understood our roles, and played really well," Lyons said.
McGaughey, one of the few seniors on the Tigard team, seemed to relish the victory.
"It's my last year," she said with a smile. "It's my house. We all protected our house."
LaFountain led all scorers in the contest with 19 points. She also had five rebounds. Brown scored 13 points, all coming in the first half, and she had seven rebounds. Gray scored 10 points to go with six rebounds and three steals.
"Paige and Campbell played great," Naylor said. "And Kennedy Brown had her best game. She's our spark plug. She's fearless."
Lyons scored eight points and she pulled down six rebounds. She also helped limit Vonleh to just one point in the second half.
"I love battling girls that our bigger than me," the 5-8 Lyons said. "It's the best part of the game to me."
Leavitt added nine points for the Tigers.
Tigard, as a team, made 22 of 52 shots from the field, with five three-pointers, and 16 of 20 free-throw attempts. The Tigers also had just seven turnovers in the contest.
Vonleh led West Linn with 13 points. Pritchard added nine points for the Lions, senior Kennedi Byram had eight and Landis scored six.
West Linn, as a team, made 13 of 45 shots from the field, with five three-pointers, and 15 of 25 free-throw attempts.
"We were just short on a couple of things, and they executed well" Pritchard said. "Now, we know that every team will be fired up to play us. We'll be ready for them next time."
The TRL powers will have their rematch Jan. 30 at West Linn High School.
First, both teams will be back in action with league games on Friday. West Linn will host Canby at 5:45 p.m. and Tigard will be home to face St. Mary's Academy at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, West Linn will play at Lake Oswego and Tigard will travel to Newberg for 7 p.m. league games.