The Indians will have to go the rest of the season without senior Brittany Catlow

by: JOHN WILLIAM HOWARD - Freshman guard Alyssa Spang reaches for a lay in during the Indians' Feb. 11 loss to Banks. Diving to the floor, playing solid defense and vast improvement on the offense end of the court has helped Spang set a tone, according to head coach David Spirlin.With the chance to move into a tie for second place in the Cowapa League standings, the Scappoose girls basketball team came up empty handed, falling down by 15 points at halftime and surrendering sole control of second place to Banks with a 38-26 defeat at home on Feb. 11.

The Indians (9-10, 3-3 Cowapa) now drop into a tie for fourth with Astoria, whom they beat 45-36 on Feb. 4. Scappoose will close the season at home against the Fishermen on Feb. 21, putting themselves in the drivers’ seat for a playoff berth.

Their run to the postseason, or the ‘third season’ according to Head Coach David Spirlin, will have to happen without a key piece to the team: senior guard Brittany Catlow, who will undergo surgery to repair a torn ACL and meniscus which will put Catlow on the shelf for the remainder of the season.

After Catlow injured her knee a few weeks ago during practice, Spirlin said there was a definite difference in the teams’ play. They wouldn’t need her in the rout of Yamhill-Carlton or the victory over Astoria, but missing senior leadership will sting as the season comes to a close.

“It’s unfortunate for her, it’s unfortunate for the team, but we’ve got to push through,” said Spirlin. “It’s an opportunity for somebody who doesn’t start usually or get a lot of minutes to step up and show themselves.”

Many of those minutes, even more so since the word spread about Catlow’s injury, have fallen to freshman Alyssa Spang. Listed on just the junior varsity roster to start the season, Spang has stepped in and become an important part of the squad both on offense and defense.

And as a freshman, Spirlin says it’s good to see Spang diving to the floor when the ball is on the loose.

“It sets a tone for everybody else,” he said. “She didn’t play very well in the first half, but [in the] second half, she got after it after we talked a little bit.”

“We’ve got to get everybody to play like that from the jump ball,” he said. “That’s still a work in progress.”

It's been a strange week for the Indians, who have had to miss several days of practice and shuffle games around due to the weekend snowfall. That resulted in a longer than usual period of time away from the court, which Spirlin thinks may have led to some rust.

“I realize that it’s been a while since we’ve been on the court, but we’ve got to come with a better effort than that defensively, especially this late in the season with an opportunity against Banks,” he said. “[They’re] a team that we only lost to by seven on their home court. Defensively, we just weren’t there tonight.”

Many members of the team looked winded throughout the first half, when Banks ran up and down the floor on the break and pressed Scappoose once they started trying to run offensive sets. More than a few times, the Braves would allow Scappoose to dribble the ball into the corner before setting a trap. The trap, in turn, forced the Scappoose player to make a desperation pass out of the double team, a pass that fell into Banks’ hands more often than not.

The errant passes led to a race down the floor and easy layups for the Braves, who outscored Scappoose 12-2 in the second period, part of a 17-2 run to end the first half.

The second half, as it has been all season long, started far better for Scappoose. The Indians responded by locking down on the defensive end and pulling themselves to within eight after three quarters, but Banks was able to make their free throws and keep Scappoose at arms length, in spite of their best offensive period of the night.

Defense was the topic of practice on Wednesday, in preparation to take on Tillamook on Thursday evening. But in addition to better defense, they’ll also have to shake off the weight of losing such a big game.

“As a coach, you’ve got to have a short memory. You’ve got to let it go,” said Spirlin. “We didn’t play very well, but we’ve got another game and we can’t afford to dwell on it for too long. We’ve got a 12-hour rule when it’s good, and a 12-hour rule when it’s bad.”

Tillamook, though, isn’t the only challenge on the horizon. Another big contest stands in the way of the Indians’ path to the post season: their match up with No. 5 Seaside on Feb. 14. Last time out, the Gulls blew out Scappoose in one of their toughest games all season. Spirlin said Scappoose will need a far better game in order to compete with Seaside, let alone knock off the Gulls, who have lost only twice this season and had won nine straight following their Feb. 11 defeat of Tillamook.

Losing one of their leaders, some defensive mistakes and a bit of a wild schedule all have a chance to throw the Indians off in their quest, but that’s simply part of the game.

“That’s adversity, and you’ve got to deal adversity in life and in basketball and in sports,” said Spirlin. “That’s life too. You can’t always control what’s going on. You’ve got to deal with the cards that you get, and we’ve got to deal with Brittany (Catlow) not being there except on the bench as a cheerleader.”


Banks 38, Scappoose 26

BANKS 9 12 2 15 – 38

SCAP 4 2 9 11 – 26

Scappoose (26): Spang 1, Wright 8, Kessi 7, Tinning, Courtney, Updike 8, Vardanega, Lang, Raya 2, Kopra

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