PORTLAND – South Salem’s time on the throne of high school girls basketball in Oregon has finally come to an end.
The Saxons’ run as OSAA Class 6A state champions came to an end after two straight Friday night with a 54-46 loss to Oregon City in the semifinals of the state tournament at the Chiles Center.
The same court where the Saxons had such success the past two years saw the run of domination of the high school basketball scene come to a conclusion.
Now South Salem (24-4) moves on to play Grant for third place at 6:45 p.m. Saturday while Oregon City advances to play No. 1 Southridge at 8:30 p.m.
“I understand the girls being upset, and I just told them that hey, we have one more chance to make it up,” South Salem coach Nick McWilliams said. “We can get third place, we can get fifth place, and I’m sure we’ll all feel a lot better if we get third place.
“These are really high quality kids, and I really feel like they’re going to bounce back and give it all they got. Generally in our program we lose and we bounce back and play really well the next time.”
The Saxons started their semifinal game like the team that was in the round for the third year in a row.
South Salem shut down Oregon City in the start defensively, went on a 10-0 run and led 12-4 in the first quarter.
That changed in a hurry.
Oregon City got hot in stretches in the second quarter and took out to a 25-18 lead at halftime.
South Salem senior Evina Westbrook was held to 11 points in the first half, including three in the second quarter.
“In the first quarter we got in transition and Evina was able to create some things and so on, and I don’t know if they changed things defensively or what exactly happened, but all of a sudden the key was all plugged up and we couldn’t get to the basket, and some of those shots that we then kicked it back out wouldn’t fall for us,” McWilliams said.
South Salem would fall behind 47-33 in the fourth quarter as Oregon City’s defense clamped down – the Saxons shot 30 percent (16 of 52) from the field to the Pioneers’ 43 percent (18 of 41).
Westbrook finished with 25 points and eight rebounds, but she had to take over half the Saxons’ field goals: She was 9 of 29 from the field and the rest of the team could only get up 23 shots.
Still, South Salem’s aggressive defense cut Oregon City’s lead to 51-46 on a basket by Morgan Winder with 35 seconds left.
“E didn’t shoot the percentage that she usually does, either,” McWilliams said. “In spite of that, we cut that 15 point lead to six or five or whatever because they were just fighting to get back there so I was really proud of them for that.
“Bottom line when, over the course of a game you shoot that poorly, it’s just really hard to catch up, especially against a good team.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com or Twitter.com/bpoehler
Oregon City 54, South Salem 46
Oregon City: N’Dea Flye 14, Bullock 11, Ky. Gulsdorf 10, Ka. Guelsdorf 8, Warren 6, Edward 3, Parrish 2, Nyquist, Fortin, Tolke, Bradford, Fries, Schedler. Totals 18 12-22 54.
South Salem: Westbrook 25, Harley 8, Winder 5, Hicks 4, Hersh 2, Stafford 2, Johnson, Schuetz, Ferry. Totals 16 11-15 46.
OC 7 18 19 10-54
SS 12 6 12 16-46
3-point goals: Oregon City 6 (Flye 2, Bullock 2, Ky. Guelsdorf, Ka. Guelsdorf); South Salem 3 (Harley 2, Westbrook). Rebounds: Oregon City 28 (Bullock 8); South Salem 26 (Hersh 9). Assists: Oregon City 8 (Flye 3), South Salem 4 (Westbrook 2).