Scappoose holds Taft to just two points in the final two quarters and wins 54-19

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Senior Abby Kessi battles for positioning during the second half of Tuesday's dominant victory over Taft. Kessi finished with 13 points in the win.Little by little, all the big pieces for the Scappoose girls' basketball team are starting to fall into place. It's been a long road with first-year head coach David Spirlin, who has had to reteach some fundamentals before being able to get the team on the winning track.

After dropping five of their last six, the Indians (4-6) danced past Taft on Tuesday evening, dominating the Tigers in the second half en route to a 54-19 blowout.

Perhaps more impressive than anything else, Scappoose was able to hold Taft to just two points in the third quarter, and none in the fourth. The Indians led 22-17 at the break, and ended the contest on a 32-2 run.

“We are getting better at team defense,” said Spirlin. “It's about the pride that we're going to get a stop as a team. It doesn't matter who's on the ball, we're going to get it done as a team.”

And get it done they did. Earlier in the season, the team would hesitate when Spirlin called a press – either at the free-throw line or at half court – and were reluctant to get in the faces of the opposing offense. Against Taft, the old tenancies were a thing of the past.

The only habit to rear its head was a frustrating one: a “slow” start.

“We're not physically and mentally ready sometimes when we come out of the locker room,” said Spirlin. “That's a habit that was here before I got here that we're trying to fix. When we get to league, you can't do that. We're still trying to put four quarters together. Still a work in progress.”

Spirlin's ‘work in progress' was the opening quarter, a period in which Scappoose allowed a game-high nine points from Taft, but they gave up only 10 more the rest of the way. The Tigers netted eight points in the second quarter to make things respectable, and then the clamps went on.

Taft was held scoreless in the third until after the two-minute mark, where junior Kelsey Willkinson finally broke into the second-half score sheet for the Tigers. The rest of Taft's possessions never resulted in a shot, saw a hurried shot clang off the rim or simply didn't hit anything whatsoever. The Indians stripped and ran at every opportunity, leading to a big quarter for senior Lacey Updike, who put up seven of her game-high 17 points in the third. Abby Kessi capped the period with three free throws, making up for missing four of five to finish the first half, and the rout was on.

The starters didn't see heavy minutes in the fourth, but it was of no consequence. The defensive principles carried over from one unit to the next – part of an emphasis on a team mentality.

“My theory is, it's a team game. One kid gets beat, and somebody needs to be there to help. That's team defense,” said Spirlin. “There's no individuals on the scoreboard, it's ‘us' and ‘visitors,' so you've got to stop the basketball, whether it's your man or not.”

Always wanting the Indians to improve, Spirlin still had several areas he saw problems with, the main idea being consistency. Scappoose has shown flashes of brilliance over the past few weeks, but hasn't proven their success be sustainable. He wants it to be obvious to the regular fans, not just himself, that the team has picked up an identity: playing inside out, taking advantage of height differentials in the post and winning with solid team defense. Breaking the old habits in just a few months hasn't been a simple task, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

“It's a work in progress,” he said. “They're trying, and it's frustrating, but we're getting there.”


Scappoose 54, Taft 19

SCAP 12 10 19 13

TAFT 9 8 2 0

Scappoose (54): Updike 17, Kessi 13, Tinning 7, Catlow 4, Spang 3, Wight 3, Vardanega 3, Sykes 2, Lang 2

Taft (19): Adams 11, Mason 4, Vasquez 2, Wilkinson 2

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