Husky girls battle Stayton,Molalla but can’t overcome

With a new sense of confidence, the Sweet Home girls basketball team put scares into two of the top teams in the Capital Conference. In the end though, they couldn’t hold off second half surges, losing to Stayton 49-37 on the road and then falling to Molalla 55-42 at home Friday.

Against an undefeated Stayton, the Huskies fell behind early 10-4, but seemed to always find a way to get back into the ball game. To match the hot shooting of Stayton’s Casey Bunn, the Huskies counted on Jessica Brocard, who scored 10 points in the first quarter, often on drives from the high post. Trailing 16-14 after a high scoring first quarter, the Huskies used their zone defense to limit Stayton to just four baskets in the second quarter, but they could not mount an offensive threat of their own and went into the lockerroom under a 25-20 deficit.

In the second half, Stayton collapsed around Brocard, preventing the Husky senior from getting the ball in the offense and causing many early third quarter turnovers on entry passes. Stayton turned those turnovers and offensive rebounds into points, connecting on 7 of their first 11 shots and establishing a separation of 40-27 at the three minute mark. Altogether Stayton converted seven offensive rebounds for 14 second chance points compared to the Huskies’ two.

“The difference in the ball game was rebounding,” said Coach Mark Tyler. “We haven’t got that part of our game worked in yet.”

In the fourth quarter, Brocard added 6 more onto her game high total of 19, but the Huskies could never mount enough of a charge to get back into the game. Mariah Zook added 9 points to her team high 6 rebounds and 3 steals.

At the night’s end, both coach and players were happy with their performance. With good spacing and interior passing, Tyler was pleased with the offensive performance.

“Historically since I’ve been here, we’ve not been aggressive with the ball,” said Tyler. “We did that tonight.”

Brocard senses that the team has emerged from a rut and stepped up a notch.

“We’re playing more as a team now,” pointed out the Husky senior. “Everything is coming together. We’re realizing that we can stay in the game.”

And the Huskies proved that they could stay in the game on Friday night against another tough team.

Sweet Home was slow out of the gate again against Molalla, trailing 9-2 halfway through the first quarter, in large part to the sharpshooting of Amy Yoder, who triggered the Indian attack with 17 first half points mostly from long range. But the Huskies made a comeback of their own, which was jump-started by a Molalla substitution technical foul. Brocard made three free throws in a row, one after being fouled and then the two technicals. From there, her teammates began to find Brocard in the half court offense, as she scored 9 points in the first quarter to put the Huskies back in the game at 15-11 at the end of the quarter.

In the second quarter, despite a strong 6 point performance by Angela Fentiman, Molalla tried to pull away again, building up a seven point lead with just two minutes left in the half. But the Huskies scored the last four points of the quarter to only trail 28-25 at halftime.

Opening baskets by Kaci Trask and Amanda Burcham pulled the Huskies to within one and it stayed close for the first five minutes. However, Molalla scored on each of their next four possessions down the floor and the Huskies came up empty. Sweet Home held the Indians in check at the beginning of the fourth quarter. But after a Brocard basket, Molalla went on an 11-4 binge while the Huskies floundered, shooting one for their first seven.

“Good ball teams are going to make runs,” said Tyler. “We have to be able to shut them down and we have to sustain ours.”

Zook made a valiant effort in the late moments of the 4th quarter, scoring 7 points, but the Huskies couldn’t close the gap. Brocard again led the Huskies with 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals. Zook had another well-rounded performance, which included 7 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

Tyler’s confidence in his Husky team has grown with his team’s ability to stay in the tough ball games. Despite having just one win, the Huskies can still contend for a playoff berth with victories over their next three opponents, all in the bottom half of the division, starting with the one team that they have defeated, Central, at home yesterday.

“We still need to work on the end of the game,” said Tyler, noting the anxiety that the Huskies sometimes face in the second half of games. “It’s a growth thing that’s going to take a little bit of time.”

For the Huskies, the time has to be immediately.

Calendar: The Huskies will have a bye on Friday before hosting Sisters next Tuesday.