The Apollo girls win their final two games at Lake Oswego, improve to 8-3
by: JONATHAN HOUSE, GIVING CHASE — Sunset’s Katherine Salness attempts to save an errant pass before it went out of bounds during the Apollos’ loss to Lake Oswego at the Laker Interstate Shootout last week.

LAKE OSWEGO - What didn't start well sure ended well for the Sunset girls basketball team at the Interstate Shootout.

The No. 6-ranked Apollos lost their first two games before closing with a pair of wins to finish 2-2 in the 16-team tournament at Lake Oswego High School.

'The kids started relaxing and playing basketball,' Sunset coach Bill Priester said. 'We made some adjustments offensively and gave the kids more freedom to make plays. Their athleticism and instincts took over.'

After losing 51-42 to Lake Oswego on Wednesday and 61-50 to Hermiston on Thursday, the Apollos rebounded to beat West Salem 45-36 on Friday and used a second-half surge in Saturday's 52-27 win over South Salem.

Sophomore wing Alyssa Martin led Sunset in three games, averaging 12 points per contest. Junior point guard Laura Stanulis and sophomore post Samantha Potter complemented her with nine points per game for the tournament.

'We had nice offensive production from our three leading scorers,' Priester said. 'We need to find a way to get them more shots.'

What the Apollos got at the Shootout was experience crucial for a team that includes two freshmen and five sophomores.

'We're young but we had kids get better with competition,' Priester said. 'I'm pleased with the attitude. I feel like they know what it takes to win.'

And Sunset has been doing as much, starting the season 8-3 after opening 3-7 last year.

'After losing our first two, we didn't want to go 1-3 or 0-4,' Martin said. 'We need to work on coming out ready to play and not taking the first few minutes easy.'

The Apollos didn't, however, in their opening loss and paid the price. Lake Oswego used a 9-0 run to lead 11-2 and moved ahead 20-9 midway through the second quarter before Sunset got going.

'We weren't as focused as normal and were making mental errors,' Katherine Salness said. 'But in the second half, we started out a lot stronger on defense and it totally changed the game.'

Sparked by its press, the Apollos fought back. Potter's steal and quick pass ahead to Martin for a layin cut the deficit to 25-21 early in the third quarter. Moments later, Stanulis, who had a team-high 12 points, grabbed a steal and bolted upcourt for an underhand layin.

'Laura is just a demon for us,' Priester said. 'She does so many things and makes the rest of the team better.'

Stanulis scored on a putback and Martin had a pair of steals and converted two free throws for Sunset's first lead at 31-30 with 2:29 left in the third quarter.

Stanulis' putback, Salness' steal and two foul shots and Martin's deep field goal stretched the lead to 39-34 with 5:12 left. But Sunset went four minutes without scoring and the Lakers turned the tables with an 11-0 run, converting 13-of-15 free throws in the final frame.

'The girls were disappointed in the effort and focus in the first half,' Priester said. 'It wasn't what we hoped for but they responded in the second half. It just took a lot of energy to get back in there.'

Another tough shooting night and furious fourth quarter comeback by Hermiston ended with Friday's 61-50 loss.

Paced by Martin's 16 points, Sunset led 48-38 through three quarters before being outscored 23-2 in the fourth by the Class 5A Bulldogs - they were led by Shoni Schimmel's 29 points.

Despite a third straight rough game from the floor, Sunset picked up its first tournament win after jumping out to a 12-5 lead and beating West Salem 45-36.

'We didn't shoot very well the first three games,' Priester said. 'We need to put the ball in the hole and finish. But the kids showed a lot of guts and determination.'

Martin had 12 points to lead the Apollos, then followed with a game-high 17 in Saturday's 52-27 win over South Salem.

After leading 19-13 at halftime, Sunset pulled away in the second half as Martin had 13 points, including eight in the final quarter when the Apollos outscored the Saxons 21-7.

'The second half of this game made us feel better,' senior Anna Johnson said. 'For how young our team is, we're doing really well.'

Sunset stepped up the defensive intensity after halftime. The Apollos took a 31-20 into the fourth after Martin stripped a Saxon offensive rebounder of the ball and quickly hooked in a shot with two seconds left in the third.

Sunset finished strong, shooting 10 of 15 from the floor in the fourth quarter with Stanulis scoring six points including two off a baseline drive to spark a 15-1 run that put the game away.

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