Girls basketball: Free throws, turnovers cost Woodburn vs. Sweet Home
The Woodburn girls basketball team is starting to develop somewhat of a cross-valley rivalry with the Sweet Home Huskies at the annual Stayton Holiday Tournament.
The two teams met in the first round of last year's tourney, with the Bulldogs coming home with a five-point win for their lone victory of the season.
This year, the Huskies returned the favor, beating Woodburn 44-38 in a free-throw heavy contest that saw both teams combine for 90 foul shots, as Sweet Home ended a 44-game streak of losses dating back to the 2015 season.
"We just have to play defense," Woodburn head coach Rudy Loza said after the Huskies racked up 47 free-throw attempts. "That's the game right there. And then the turnovers, little mistakes and not finishing."
The Bulldogs nearly matched Sweet Home at the line, taking 43 freebies of their own and cutting Sweet Home's lead to two multiple times in the fourth quarter, but were unable to prevent the Huskies from getting easy foul opportunities.
"Foul trouble, foul trouble, foul trouble," Loza said. "We had a chance and let this one get away. We just have to regroup and be ready for tomorrow."
It was a game of runs for both teams through the first three quarters. Woodburn took an initial 9-7 lead after the first quarter of play, but the Huskies responded with an 8-1 run to open the second that put them up 15-10.
Sweet Home held an 18-13 advantage at halftime, but it was Woodburn's turn to stage a rally when the two teams came out of the break.
The Bulldogs scored the first six points of the third quarter to take back the lead, then extended their advantage to 24-20 on a corner 3-pointer from Lina Cabrera to take their biggest lead of the game.
That prompted a 9-0 streak by Sweet Home through the end of the third quarter and into the fourth to put the Huskies up 29-24 before Woodburn's Maritza Gabriel broke the run with a pair of free throws to cut the deficit to three.
The remainder of the game turned into a battle at the free-throw line, with Woodburn cutting it to 32-30 and 34-32, but never able to take back the lead.
"We just have to make it a complete game," Loza said. "We either start strong and finish slow or start slow and finish strong. I think we should be OK if we just limit our turnovers and fouls and finishing our shots."
Cabrera finished with a game-high nine points, followed by eight from Michelle Quezada. Tatiana Garcia and Eliana Arechiga each scored seven in the loss.
Woodburn has been without one of its top players — sophomore Taiya Kent — since she suffered a concussion in the season-opener against North Salem. With Kent sidelined for the season, the Bulldogs have been looking to spread the lost production around the rest of the roster.
"You're losing 12 points a game," Loza said. "I think we're in that right process of having more girls shoot and knowing that they have to shoot, because we lost those points and have to get them somewhere. The other girls know that everybody's got to step up."
Woodburn (1-7) went on to lose its follow-up game 62-26 against Yamhill-Carlton (7-2) on Thursday. The Bulldogs were scheduled to wrap up the tournament on Friday against Scio (1-8) before taking an extended break until their league opener at home against South Albany (3-5) on Jan. 9.