South Salem High School’s No. 8-ranked girls basketball team had a new tactic thrown at it Tuesday.
While holding sizable leads in the second and third quarters in the first round of the OSAA Class 6A state playoffs, the Saxons had to deal with Aloha’s stalling game.
The Warriors held the ball or were content to dribble the ball for minutes at a time despite trailing South Salem by double digits.
The strategy played into South Salem’s hands — the Saxons won 47-27 — but it was a strategy that the Saxons hadn’t seen this season.
“I think that they’re pretty composed,” South Salem coach Nick McWilliams said. “The whole idea was to win the game rather than how much you win by. And we don’t like to play that way, obviously, but we were kind of forced into it and we would have been kind of foolish to rush into it and try to force the issue.
“I told the girls it’s a good win. You don’t know how the other team’s going to approach you. You don’t know what their game plan’s going to be. We knew that could happen, but I think the girls did a good chance of sticking to the game plan. Good win, we get to advance to the next round.”
South Salem (21-5) advances to the second round to play No. 7-ranked and No. 9 seeded West Linn at 7 p.m. Friday with a berth in the 6A state tournament on the line.
South Salem, the No. 8 seed, split its regular season games against West Linn with the Lions winning 37-29 in the season-opening contest at South Salem and the Saxons winning 53-39 when they played at the Nike Interstate Shootout.
“I feel really good,” said South Salem freshman Evina Westbrook, who scored 12 points. “Playing them is really big for us. They’re kind of like our rivals. We go at it against each other. They’re a really good team to play against. I’m really excited for Friday.”
Aloha (12-14) took out to a brief lead at 7-4 in the first quarter after a 7-0 run capped by a Makenzie Johnsen lay-in.
But Westbrook made three-point plays on back-to-back possessions to end the first quarter and key a 14-0 South Salem run.
The Saxons’ nerves showed early in the game.
“It definitely felt like that in the beginning, but once we starting getting into it, we started picking it up,” Westbrook said. “It was definitely different for them to slow the ball down and just stay up and dribble, but I felt we adjusted well at the end of the game.”
Aloha’s slow-down game plan was an attempt to keep South Salem out of their fast-paced offense, and it worked for the most part, but the closest Aloha would get the rest of the way was at 30-20 on a free throw by Demetria Andrews with one seconds left in the third quarter.
South Salem was 11 of 12 from the free throw line in the fourth quarter to seal the win and move on to play all-too-familiar West Linn.
“The teams are pretty evenly matched,” McWilliams said of West Linn. “We didn’t play particularly well here at home last time, so we’re hoping that we can come out with a good effort and advance to the next round.”
bpoehler@StatesmanJournal.com, (503) 399-6701 or follow at twitter.com/bpoehler
SOUTH SALEM 47, ALOHA 27
Aloha– Noheaililani Waiwaiole 9, Hensley 6, Andrews 4, McDonald 3, Sibert 3, Johnsen 2, McCoy, Kelsey, Locke, Begay, Mustafic.
South Salem– Evina Westbrook 12, McWilliams 8, Woodvine 6, Martinez-Moorman 6, Donovan 6, Bodine 5, Wasser 2, McNally 2, Harley, Prestwich, Swanson, Sigado. Totals 11 24-32 47.
|South Salem||10||14||6||17||— 47|
3-point goals: Aloha 3 (Hensley 2, Andrews); South Salem 1 (Martinez-Moorman). Rebounds: South Salem 25 (Bodine 7). Assists: South Salem 6 (McWilliams 2).