The Timberwolves fall behind early, can't recover against 'Cats

by: MATT SINGLEDECKER - UP FOR TWO -- Tualatin senior post Jasmine Miller (2) shoots over Westview senior Brittany Carlson in Friday's game. Miller led the Wolves with 20 points in the contest. ROCK CREEK — Jasmine Miller didn’t recognize the Tualatin girls basketball team that took the floor in the first half against Westview on Friday night.

Uncharacteristically timid in their decision making and turnover-prone with the rock, the Timberwolves (2-1) dug themselves an unescapable 43-20 halftime hole against Jaime Nared and the second-ranked Wildcats.

The progressive second half, however, was much more to Miller’s liking. Playing composed on the offensive end and feisty on defense, Tualatin outscored Westview 36-33 in the game’s final two quarters, 20 of which came from Miller.

Tualatin’s sluggish first half ultimately was their undoing in a 76-56 defeat, but the Timberwolves came away self-aware of what they need to work on as the season goes along.

“In the first half, we didn’t play Tualatin basketball,” said Miller who also had 8 rebounds. “That was not a representation of how we play at all. We need to learn from that. But, the second half was how we play basketball. It was a little frustrating, but I think it was a good learning experience being our third game to know what we can and can’t do.”

With the loss, Tualatin moved to 2-1 on the season. Westview improved to 4-1 with the victory.

In Friday’s game, Miller and the Wolves came to life in the third quarter, powering home an offensive rebound to start the period Later, the forward grabbed a defensive board, drove coast-to-coast and banked home a jumper. Senior Lindsay Barrow kissed a floater off the window for two, senior Tessa Bullis scored on a layup and Miller poured in six more points to get Tualatin within 61-33 going into the fourth.

“We need to know we have nothing to lose,” Miller said. “We’re here to play. We can play with any team that we come up against. We showed can hang with them (Westview) in the second half, but we need to do that the whole time.”

Tualatin played its best quarter of the night in the fourth, with Miller scoring 12 of her team-high 20 points.

The skilled senior showing off her versatility, too, burying two three-pointers while gobbling up a pair of offensive rebounds and putting them back in for buckets. Junior Katie Nelson drilled a three, and sophomore point guard Karina Moreland stole a Nared cross-court pass and finished it on the other end.

After struggling from the field in the first three quarters, Tualatin put up 23 points in the final stanza to chop a 30-point deficit down to 20.

“We started out slow,” Tualatin senior Madi Hall said. “But, we came back better in the second half, and if we had done that the entire game, it would’ve been a lot closer.”

“We calmed down,” Moreland said. “We didn’t let their defense get to us. We just played our game.”

The Timberwolves fell behind 13-2 with 5:30 left in the first quarter before Hall hit back-to-back three’s, including a sweet stepback from the right wing that cut the deficit to 13-8. Yet, the Westview forced four consecutive turnovers with their suffocating half-court trap and went 8-1 run to the close the quarter with a 21-9 advantage.

Hall said Westview’s hounding half-court trap stunned Tualatin at the start of the game and forced them into unfavorable positions on the floor where it was hard to make solid decisions.

“We let them rush us,” said Moreland. “We got a little bit flustered and that caused unforced turnovers that weren’t necessary.”

But, once Tualatin figured out the middle of the floor was wide open, the Timberwolves were able to outlet the ball quickly send skip passes up the court for easy hoops.

Westview stepped on the gas in the second quarter as Wildcat junior Alia Mahuna scored eight straight points to open up a 29-11 lead. Tualatin responded when Barrow barreled into the lane twice for a pair of running teardrops—one of them over the closing Nared— and Hall hit her third three-pointer of the half after a touch pass from Barrow. Hall finished with nine points and Barrow tacked on six. Leonard and Nelson each had four points.

to contain her a little bit better than we did. We did a fairly good job.”

Despite the 20-point defeat, Tualatin showed signs of being a strong playoff contender and came away confident they compete the state’s elite.

Bringing energy from the game’s opening tip and carrying it consistently for 32 minutes is something Miller said Tualatin needs to polish, especially against top-quality teams like Westview.

“I feel like we’re a playoff team,” said Moreland. “We’re really deep. We have a good bench. We’re a strong team that can go far.”

“This will make us better as a team,” added Hall. “Westview’s a great team and I think we can only improve by playing them.”

The Wolves return to action Friday when they face The Dalles-Wahtonka at 1 p.m. in a first-round game at the Nike Interstate Shootout, behind held at Lake Oswego High School.

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