PORTLAND – Evina Westbrook’s basketball career at South Salem High School ended the same way the rest of it went.
The 6-foot senior point guard was highly decorated, didn’t take herself too seriously and, most importantly, went out a winner on the basketball court.
When she led the Saxons to a comeback win against Grant in the third place game Saturday in the OSAA Class 6A state tournament, it put an exclamation on the most successful – and significant – high school basketball career for a girl from Salem.
Her impact has already been felt beyond the borders of Oregon as she represented the United States last summer on the USA Basketball U18 team, and will go beyond as she has signed to play at powerhouse Tennessee in college.
“It’s crazy,” Westbrook said. “We feel so blessed. All my four years I made it to the state playoffs. Not a lot of teams get to do that. And to make it all my four years, have two back-to-back state championships. We got fourth one year, now we got third this year. Even though we didn’t get first every year, we made it every year. Not every team has done that.
“That’s a huge accomplishment for my team and especially for myself … just the amazing teammates that I had in the past and the teammates I’m going to have in the future, it’s just a blessing.”
Westbrook took a beating in her final state tournament, both physically and mentally.
But she still was her super self.
She led the tournament with an average of 26.0 points per game, 8.7 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 2.7 steals per game.
And, for the third year in a row, she was a unanimous all-tournament selection.
“She was not the type to give up or say she needs a break or to even show that she’s hurt,” senior Dani Harley said. “She’s going to play through it, and especially in her last game I can see why she did.”
It’s not a coincidence that Westbrook’s four years of high school has coincided with the most impressive run South Salem’s girls have ever had.
In her four years as a starter for the Saxons, they have gone an unheard of 104-13 and placed four years in a row in the state tournament with two state championships.
More than that, she has raised the profile – and expectations – for future generations of girls basketball players from Salem.
“South Salem, we’ve been a dominant program the last four years,” South Salem coach Nick McWilliams said. “We have a fourth, a third and two firsts. That’s like Oregon City territory, Southridge. I don’t know what else you could say.
“She’s helped to elevate our program. Obviously we’ve had a lot of other really good players, but her influence has been incredible and really tough to replace a person like that.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler