The situation the Silverton High School girls basketball was in Wednesday night would have been only a dream a year ago.
The Foxes, 5-9 in the Mid-Willamette Conference last season, came to Corvallis to battle for the league lead having won eight of their previous nine games.
The No. 9-ranked Foxes held the early lead and kept the No. 3-ranked Spartans within reach for most of the game, but a strong fourth quarter gave Corvallis a 50-42 win and the league lead.
For Silverton, it marked a huge improvement.
“To be honest with you, I hadn’t watched one game last year, I was helping with the boys and doing the boys deal,” said first-year Silverton coach Tal Wold, formerly the boys coach at Stayton. “Obviously I knew they won four league games or so, so I knew we had work to do, but one of the neat things about this group is they work super hard, they’re so coachable.
“We knew we started out 0-4, but we kept feeling like we kept getting a little bit better every day, and the girls’ attitude has been great, that’s part of being coachable. I’m just really proud of them. You can have anything when you have that attitude.”
Corvallis, No. 2 in the OSAA’s power rankings, improves to 5-0 in the Mid-Willamette and 11-3 overall with its sixth straight win while Silverton drops to 4-1 in the Mid-Willamette and 8-6 overall.
Corvallis senior Leslie Robinson finished with 20 points, but was held in check with six points on 2 of 12 shooting from the field in the first half with tough defense by Tess Oster and Mackenzie Ratliff.
“She was doing a great job beating her to her spots and making her post up a little higher than she wants,” Wold said. “The second half Leslie flipped that on us a little bit, got down on the block where she can really do damage.
“Not only is she strong and athletic, she shoots really well so we have to be careful on how we dig, where we dig. She caught us a couple times, had some nice assists, too. That really hurt us in the second half, and that was more of a team deal than a Tessa or a Kenzie deal. That’s more on all of us.”
Silverton sophomore wing Alia Parsons scored 23 points, including four 3-pointers.
The Foxes started off hot, took the initial lead and were up 8-7 after the first quarter.
Corvallis started the second quarter on a 6-0 run, but Silverton kept it in reach, trailing 21-15 at halftime.
“We did a good job of keeping them out of the key,” Wold said. “If you look at the shot chart in the first half, a lot of the shots were 12 feet, 15 feet, which is what we want. The second half every shot was in the key. Point blank, obviously coach (Greg) Garrison put an emphasis there in the second half.”
Silverton cut Corvallis’ lead to three points multiple times in the third quarter, including on a 3-pointer by Parsons with 40 seconds left to go to the fourth quarter trailing 36-33.
But the Spartans controlled the game in the fourth and didn’t let the Foxes any closer.
Coming from an 0-4 start to the season, it showed significant growth that Silverton was able to hang with one of the state’s best teams for most of the game.
“We’ve gotten better defensively, that’s been a huge part, and then we’re getting better against pressure, catching, ripping, getting on our toes, using our dribbles, our ball-fakes, better passing,” Wold said.
“That was a huge deal for us in November, working on little skills.”
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Silverton- Alia Parsons 23, Paradis 8, Ratliff 7, Smith 3, Ratliff 1, Oster, Blaylock, Kuenzi, Fennimore. Totals 15 6-9 42.
Corvallis- Leslie Robinson 20, Coe 11, McGowan 11, Vallancey-Martinson 8, Crestwick, Rainwater, Dupray. Totals 17 16-17 50.
3-point goals: Silverton 6 (Parsons 4, Ratliff, Smith); Corvallis 1 (McGowan).