Beaver girls basketball looks ahead to bright '18-19
Seated in the "participants only" section in the lower bowl of the Chiles Center watching the Class 6A state championship game between Benson and Southridge on Saturday afternoon, the sentiment was widespread amongst the Beaverton girls basketball.
That should've been us.
Never mind that the Beavers had just lost to West Linn in the third-place game hours earlier. Any result that comes from a consolation contest needs to be taken with a grain of salt. Neither team particularly wants to be there and the outcome doesn't define a team or a season.
What burned up Beaverton as they observed Southridge's slamming of Benson was the irking sensation of "what if?". The Beavers were a play away, literally, from taking out the Techsters in the 6A semifinals just a day before. Leading 53-52 with 6.8 seconds left, Beaverton let Benson's Tayler Lyday go untouched to the rim for the game-winning basket, sending the young Beavers into a state of shock. For as well as Beaverton played at times, leading by nine points in the second quarter and 10 points in the third, the Beavers felt like they gave the semifinal game away. And with that, the team most pegged as Southridge's stiffest in-state competition went by the wayside.
"We had to take care of business and we didn't do that," Beaverton sophomore point guard Mary Kay Naro said. "We learned how important the little things are. Boxing out, taking care of the ball and that cost us not being able to play where we wanted to play. If we had done the little things, we've would been in (the state title). Next year we'll come back smarter and more intelligent. Last year Beaverton wasn't even close to being here, so getting the experience of playing here and getting used to the environment will be good for the future."
"You want to go back and change a few a things so that you can be in that game and play in the state championship," Sydney Erikstrup said. "But it's on us. We'll learn from it. It'll definitely bring a lot of fire and passion to the court next year."
The state tournament and this season as an entity was just the beginning for Beaverton. There are better days ahead, much better when you look at who's coming back next season. Naro and Sydney Erikstrup put the finishing touches on their stellar sophomore seasons with first-team all state tournament selections. Laura Erikstrup played some of her best hoops when it mattered most, averaging 13 points and 9 rebounds a game during the tourney. Those three sophomores steered the Beaver ship. The Erikstrup twins took their games to new heights, showing off their versatility and various talents in expanded roles. Naro grabbed the reins at point guard and never looked back, blitzing her way to a breakout sophomore campaign. Surely, Beaverton will miss senior captain Cierra Speck, whose toughness, leadership and scrappy hustle provided a shining example for the youthful Beavers. But Jordyn Reverman and Alexa Borter earned starting spots as the season unfolded and played telling minutes in the postseason. Mackenzie Naro made a name for herself as a surefooted outside shooter. Isabelle Potts played important minutes as well off the bench as a defensive-minded, pass-first forward. All seven underclassmen are penciled in to return next season.
"We grew a lot as a team," Sydney Erikstrup said. "We are a new team that I think came together and learned a lot about ourselves. Everything that happened (at state) happened for a reason and we'll come out stronger because of it."
The Beavers didn't stick around to watch Southridge cut down the nets in the aftermath of the Skyhawks' second straight title win. If Beaverton does win a state title down the line, it'll watch each other climb to the top of the ladder to snip a piece of cotton off the rim as their fans, families and teammates look on below.
Beaverton's championship window, both in Metro and at the state level, appears wide open for the next two seasons, provided everyone stays healthy and continues to improve. With Southridge losing Maggie Freeman and Natalie Hoff, two of the Hawks' foundational pieces, and the Beavers bringing back seemingly everybody, Beaverton figures to inch closer to the Skyhawks' stratosphere.
"I think we can do big things," Sydney Erikstrup said. "I wouldn't trade one person on our team for the world. We're such a close group."
The Erikstrups, Naro, Borter and Reverman all play together for the Clutch Players AAU in the spring and summer, allowing Beaverton to use the off-season to tweak its schemes on the court and continue to improve on-court chemistry. After Naro migrated over from Sunset and the Erikstrups transferred Beaverton from Lake Oswego, the three transplants had to learn on the fly. Now they'll have a whole off-season together.
"Last summer we didn't get to play with each other," Naro said. "We all came to Beaverton in the fall. So, it'll be nice to continue to play with each other and be more connected as a group. Working together and learning about one another will be important. Now that we know who we are and how to play with each other, we should we able to grow from that this summer."
The arrival of the Naros, the Erikstrups, Borter and head coach Kathy Adelman-Naro helped transform a Beaver program that was in the Metro basement, to a 23-win team that took second in league and made the state semis.
"It was awesome," Mary Kay Naro said with a smile. "I love that I got the chance to have my mom coach me and to play with my sister. It was just an awesome experience to bring girls basketball back up at Beaverton."
"Our fans in the Beaverton community are amazing," Sydney Erikstrup added. "Just have to everyone supporting us and to have a coach like Kathy who we can trust is amazing. They want the best for all of us."