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Second-half play against Putnam sends Indians' senior leaders out on high note

PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: MILES VANCE - Point guard and senior Sara Mills helped the Scappoose Indians finish with a productive second half against Putnam in their final regular-season game.The Scappoose girls finished their basketball season on a high note Tuesday.

The final score, 79-50 for visiting Putnam, might not indicate that. But the Indians were the Kingsmen's equal in the second half and finished with a flurry, giving their senior class some moments to remember fondly.

Scappoose was without its top post player, as 5-10 junior Gaby Dague was sidelined with a concussion. And Putnam all but sewed up the win in the first half, repeatedly beating the Indians up the floor for fast-break baskets. Scappoose led 5-4 after three minutes, but Putnam outscored the Indians 18-2 the rest of the first quarter. The Kingsmen got 22 points in each of the first to quarters and led 44-18 at the break.

The second half was much different. Putnam outscored the Indians only 35-32.

Scappoose coach Sarah Mann said the halftime talk wasn't anything too out of the ordinary for a team in that situation. "It was, 'What do we have to lose? Let's lay it all out there,'" she said.

Scappoose played at a brisker pace, raising its overall level of play against a Putnam team that already had clinched a spot in the Oregon School Activities Association 5A playoffs.

Mann will lose five seniors — guards Sara Mills and Sierra Stafford, guard/forward Payton Fisher and post Emily Kopra were frequent starters, with guard Charlotte Martin in reserve.

"Our seniors turned it on in the second half," Mann said after Tuesday's game. "They went out with an exclamation point."

The seniors will be missed, Mann said.

"They have a whole lot of grit and character. And if you see us play at the end of a game, you wouldn't know if we were down by 50 or up by 50," Mann said. "That's their legacy."

The younger players contributed greatly, too, this season, and that list included 6-1 sophomore post Zoe Evans, who played extensively on Tuesday and had nine points, five rebounds and a couple of steals and blocks.

"She's stepped up a lot for us, especially in Gabi's absence," Mann said.

Scappoose won only one league game and was 2-21 this season. But the Indians showed steady improvement and in the second half of NWOC play were competitive with every team other than state powerhouses Wilsonville and La Salle Prep — who didn't lose a league game except to the other.

"I think our record simply does not reflect the successes we were able to experience," Mann said.

The Indians averaged 45.3 points per game over their last nine outings, after scoring at a 30.4 clip in their first 14 games.

That kind of progress comes only with practice, floor time and competition, and Mann, who moved up from the junior varsity head coaching position this season, said the Indians will stay active between now and the next varsity season.

"The girls are going to take a month off, hit that re-set button, and then work hard all off season," Mann said. "There's still more to come, and everyone's buying into that and is willing to put the work in.

"This program is turning the corner. The past two years, there has not been an offseason. So we're going to play more basketball. We'll play in tournaments this summer and hopefully go to a team camp — I'm hoping at Western Oregon. The last seven years, this team has never gone to a team camp. So we're starting to lay those bricks for a solid foundation."

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