Tigard will host Jesuit on Friday with a state tourney bid at stake

by: DAN BROOD - LEANING IN -- Tigard senior guard Emilee Cincotta (right) battles her way up court against McNary sophomore Madi Hingston.TIGARD — It’s said that defense wins championships.

Well, while that remains to be seen, some things are for certain — defense led the Tigard High School girls basketball team to a state playoff victory and it helped the Tigers move to within one win of a Class 6A state tournament berth.

Tigard, playing its usual brand of suffocating, denying defense, rolled to a 49-19 win over McNary in a Class 6A state playoff game played Tuesday at Tigard High School.

“We just try to do what we do,” said Tigard senior guard Lexi Carter, who had seven steals to go with a game-high 23 points. “This got us off to a good start to the playoffs. We took care of business tonight.”

“That was a lot of fun,” said Tigard sophomore post Elise Conroy, who blocked seven McNary shots in the contest. “I was able to get a lot of blocks. I just tried to play like I usually do.”

With the loss, McNary, the No. 2 team out of the Central Valley Conference, finished its season with a final overall record of 13-14.

Tigard, the Pacific Conference champion, improved to 20-5 with the win, its 16th straight of the season.

The Tigers also advance to the second round of the Class 6A state playoffs. They’ll be home to face Jesuit Friday at 6:30 p.m. in a second round match up. Jesuit, the No. 3 team out of the Metro League, has an overall record of 16-8.

Tigard also hosted Jesuit in a second round state playoff game a year ago, getting a 24-17 win over the Crusaders to advance to the Class 6A state tournament.

“Hopefully, we’ll get the same result,” Carter said. “Except, scoring more points this time. We’ll be ready.”

The Tigers sure seemed to be ready in Tuesday’s postseason opener, especially on the defensive end of the court.

For the game, Tigard helped force McNary into a 6-for-40 shooting night from the field, as well as 32 turnovers.

“We tried to make sure to be more aggressive,” Carter said.

McNary actually took a 7-6 lead on a follow-up basket by sophomore Reina Strand with 3 minutes and 12 seconds remaining in first DAN BROOD - SOARING -- Tigard High School senior guard Lexi Carter (left) goes up over McNary's Jasmine Ernest for two of her 23 points in Tuesday's playoff victory.

But that would be it for the Celtics — not only for the rest of the first quarter, but for the remainder of the first half.

Meanwhile, Tigard, getting six straight points by senior guard Emilee Cincotta followed by three straight points by Conroy, claimed a 15-7 lead at the end of the opening period.

The Tigers then kept McNary from scoring the entire second quarter, marking the fourth time this season that Tigard has kept an opponent from scoring in a period.

“We don’t really think about that,” said Conroy, who had a pair of blocked shots in the quarter. “It just usually happens.”

“We just tried to close out the half,” Carter said.

In the second quarter, McNary misfired on all eight of its shots from the field while also turning over the ball seven times.

Carter scored all seven of Tigard’s points in the period, helping the Tigers jump out to a 22-7 lead at halftime.

Conroy and Carter sank back-to-back baskets, both coming off assists from Cincotta, to open the third quarter, upping the lead to 26-7.

McNary answered with a three-pointer by sophomore Madi Hingston with 5:56 left in the quarter, ending the Celtics’ span of 13:16 without scoring.

But it would be the only shot from the field that McNary would make in the period.

Tigard, with Carter scoring four more points and with Conroy and junior Kaylie Boschma each sinking short-range jumpers, would go on to take a 35-12 lead into the fourth quarter.

Carter continued her hot play early in the final stanza. She scored six points in the opening 1:48 of the period to help Tigard push the lead to 41-12.

The Tigers then got baskets and free throws down the stretch from Cincotta, senior Hannah Armstead and senior Stephanie King to close out the 49-19 victory.

“That was a lot of fun,” Carter said. “We had good energy tonight. Now, we’re just taking it one game at a time.”

In addition to Carter’s 23 points, Tigard got 11 points, six steals and four assists from Cincotta. Conroy had seven points and eight rebounds to go with her seven blocked shots. Boschma had four points and seven rebounds.

The Tigers also got strong defensive play from senior post Jessie King and junior guard Faithe Wantland.

Tigard, as a team, made 18 of 54 shots from the field and had 15 turnovers in the contest.

Freshman Sydney Hunter led McNary with five points.

The winner of Friday’s second-round state playoff game at Tigard will advance to the Class 6A state tournament and will face either Oregon City or Crater in a tourney quarterfinal game starting at 8:15 p.m. at the Moda Center.

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