St. Helens scores winning bucket off steal with 13 seconds left

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Nicole Harcourt goes up for a shot as Scappoose's Sarah Tinning defends. Harcourt would later scoring the game-winner as time waned. St. Helens won 27-26.What the St. Helens and Scappoose girls were missing in offensive power on Thursday night, they made up for in a dramatic finish in the second-annual revival of their longstanding rivalry.

Steals and unforced turnovers plagued each team at times in their season opener, and for much of the first half it looked like St. Helens might overpower the visitors.

Sophomore Michelle Sass led St. Helens and the game in scoring with 16 points. She hit a three-point shot for the first points of the game. It was the only three all night. Sass would have 10 points at the break, including all of the Lady Lions points in the second period.

Scappoose chipped away at the early St. Helens lead when Jenny Vardanega and Abby Kessi scored in the closing seconds of the first half. The Tribe trailed by just two.

The game stayed close in the third period, and the Lady Indians got a boost when Brittany Catlow hit four straight field goals. A bucket by Bella Sykes put the Tribe within one at the end of three quarters.

By midway through the final period, Scappoose had hit four of six free throws, added two buckets by Catlow (plus two free throws), and led St. Helens 26-21.

by: JOHN BREWINGTON - St. Helens' Michelle Sass led the scoring in Thursday's game with Scappoose, scoring 16 points.It wouldn’t stay that way. St. Helens’ Jessica Amick sank a bucket and it was a three-point game. Sass scored with 3:38 left and it was a one-point margin.

While the two clubs battled for control in the waning moments, neither could sink a shot. Scappoose missed a free throw chance and the teams were still separated by just one point. The Lady Lions were also hampered by Sass leaving the game with what appeared to be leg cramps.

The game changed inside the final minutes. St. Helens’ Jillian Ross popped a ball loose at the Scappoose end and hit Nicole Harcourt speeding towards the St. Helens basket. Harcourt went in for a lay-up and St. Helens led 27-26. After a timeout, the Lady Indians had one more chance at the other end, but couldn't get off a legitimate shot.

“Defense won it for us,” St. Helens Coach Billy McKinney said. “Jillian tipped it, Nicole got it and made the lay-up. I was a little worried she might miss. We called a time-out and defended, but somehow they had a girl wide open, but she missed the shot. If it goes the other way, we lose.

“It was a big win for the kids. We talked about it and the first game often indicates how the season goes. We had six steals and 4-5 blocked shots. Harcourt was the catalyst and Michelle Sass had 16 points to lead the way.”

McKinney noted that the Lady Lions were coming off three quarters against three teams the night before and then had another game against The Dalles-Wahtonka on Friday. He said the team beat Gresham, and was ahead in the other two games, but ended up losing.

Still, McKinney and the Lady Lions were happy with the win, avenging a 54-43 loss to Scappoose last season in their first meeting in over a decade.

“It was a great game for us for not having (many) with varsity experience,” Scappoose Coach Kevin Buse said. “Of course, there's the rivalry between the two also.”

The coach said his team is still learning, and he is their third coach in five years. He noted that they missed 15 open lay-ins, and if they had just made half they would have gone ahead by 11 or so, changing the game.

“They never gave up and I'm pretty proud of them,” he added. “There are no real issues. We have practice (Friday) and we're going to get after it. I expect us to get a lot better and work through that stuff.”

Buse noted that he was pleased with the effort Kessi and Catlow made at the end to put them in a position to win. The attitude in the locker room was good after the game.


St. Helens 27, Scappoose 26

Scappoose 6 6 6 8—26

St Helens 8 6 5 8—27

Scappoose (26) —Brittany Catlow 10, Abby Kessi 6, Lacey Updike 4, McInnis 2, Vardanega 2, Sykes 2, Kierleber, Tinning, Wight.

St. Helens (27) —Michelle Sass 16, Nicole Harcourt 6, Sharp 2, Amick 2, Tupper 1, Ross, Kyle-Milward, Bartolomucci, Etchison, Hembree, Reardon, Bingaman, Roth.

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