Girls basketball -- The young Timberwolf team suffers a setback to the two-time state champs
by: JOHN LARIVIERE, UNDER PRESSURE – Tualatin’s Jen Gruss (30) is trapped by Southridge’s Falissa Smith and Danielle Wells.

BEAVERTON - If Tualatin wants to replicate (or improve) its third-place finish at last year's state meet, the Timberwolves learned what it's going to take Tuesday night.

Tualatin found the going tough in its non-conference game against two-time defending girls basketball state champion Southridge, falling behind early and losing 65-39 at Southridge High School.

The top-ranked Skyhawks started fast in its season-opener, pulled away throughout and finished with a resounding victory over the No. 6-ranked Timberwolves. Southridge used its stifling defense, a fast-paced offense and a 10-0 run to open up a 24-9 lead early in the second quarter that it expanded to 42-18 by halftime and 58-24 late in the third quarter.

'They're still definitely very good and very fast,' Tualatin senior Sam Child said. 'They use their players really well.'

Child led the Wolves with 12 points, but spent a large portion of the game on the bench after getting into foul trouble. She picked up her third foul early in the second quarter in the midst of a 20-4 Southridge run.

'They did make things difficult for me, but I need to control myself better,' Child said. 'I can't get myself in that situation. It puts my team and myself in trouble.'

With or without Child, Tualatin had trouble solving a Southridge team that has won 51 straight games against Oregon schools and hasn't missed a beat despite graduating eight seniors, including three starters and four players now at Division 1-A programs.

'This was kind of a reality for us,' Child said. 'Southridge is the top team in the state. We know what we need to get to.'

Junior post Michelle Jenkins paced Southridge with 16 points.

The Wolves stayed close early with Kelly Millager finding Jen Gruss along the right baseline for a short jumper on the end of a fast break to make it 12-8 Southridge. But the Skyhawks went on its 10-0 run shortly later en route to the 42-18 halftime lead.

Tualatin closed the game on a 9-0 run, holding Southridge's reserves scoreless for the final 4:36. But it was too little too late for the Timberwolves, who dropped to 1-1 on the season.

Prior to the loss at Southridge, Tualatin opened its season by scoring an 89-71 win at West Salem in a non-league game played Friday.

Child scored 36 points in that contest. Senior Lindsey Wilcox added 16 points and Gruss scored 13.

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