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The Tigers fall 45-41 to Sheldon in Thursday's Class 6A state tournament quarterfinal tilt

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard junior guard Kennedy Brown (left) goes to the basket against Sheldon sophomore Olivia Pierzina during Thursday's Class 6A state tournament game.PORTLAND — Things certainly didn't seem promising for the Tigard High School girls basketball team.

Sheldon, behind a strong second-half performance, had all the momentum in the world. The Irish also had a seven-point lead to go with all of that momentum. And, to make things even more challenging for the Tigers, there was only 1 minute and 22 seconds left to play in the game.

But Tigard didn't give up. In fact, the Tigers put forth a furious rally attempt. They cut the lead to two points, three different times, but they weren't able to quite complete the late-game rally, as they fell 45-41 to Sheldon in a Class 6A state tournament quarterfinal game played Thursday at the University of Portland's Chiles Center.

"We turned it up a bit at the end, and that was nice to see, but it was just one of those weird games where we couldn't get the ball to drop," Tigard coach Steve Naylor said after the game. "We had shots not go in, and a big part of it was their offensive rebounds. We watched a lot of film, and saw them come hard to the boards, and, tonight, they got too many second-chance points off of missed shots. We couldn't secure a rebound."

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard starters (from left) Kennedy Brown, Paige LaFountain, Dani Lyons, Delaney Leavitt and Campbell Gray smile before the start of Thursday's state tournament game.PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard senior Campbell Gray looks to drive to the basket during Thursday's state tournament game with Sheldon."Obviously it wasn't the outcome we wanted," said Tigard senior guard Campbell Gray, who scored a game-high 20 points. "We started out alright. Offensively, I think we needed to slow down more and get into some sets. Defensively, I think we did alright. We just needed to box out more and get more rebounds. In the first quarter, all of their points came on put-backs."

"We didn't come out at the beginning with effort," Tigard junior guard Kennedy Brown said. "I just don't think we wanted it as much, and didn't come out aggressive, and, when they outscored us 13-7 in the third quarter, that was a pretty big shocker for us. I don't think we were expecting that. I think my turnovers, and some other turnovers, and some mistakes just fueled their fire."

With the win, Sheldon, the Southwest Conference champion, and the No. 7 team in the final OSAA power rankings, improved to 24-4 on the season with the victory. The Irish also advance to play Benson in a state tournament semifinal game Friday at 8:15 p.m.

Tigard, the Three Rivers League champion, and the No. 2 team in the power rankings, moved to 24-4 with the setback. The Tigers will face Jesuit on Friday in a fourth-place semifinal game starting at 10:45 a.m.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School sophomore Ajae Holdman goes up to take a shot near the basket during the Tigers' state tournament game with Sheldon.PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School junior Delaney Leavitt (right) gets the ball up court during the Tigers' state tournament game with Sheldon on Thursday."We have something to prove tomorrow," Brown said. "I don't think we felt that way today. I think we're all going to flip the page and come back ready to play tomorrow."

"We want to come out with intensity that we didn't have this game, and try to turn up our energy," Gray said.

Tigard, despite missing its first five shots from the field, got off to a decent start to Thursday's quarterfinal game. Brown, Gray and sophomore Ajae Holdman all had baskets for the Tigers in the final 1 minute and 59 seconds of the opening period, giving Tigard a 13-8 lead going into the second quarter.

That's where Sheldon started to rally. The Irish tied the game, at 17-17,when senior Emma Neuman converted a 3-point play with 4:03 left to play in the period. But Sheldon wouldn't score again in the half. Meanwhile, Tigard got four straight points from Gray to take a 21-17 halftime lead.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School senior Dani Lyons (right) battles Sheldon junir Makayla Scurlock for a loose ball on the court during Thursday's state tournament game.PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School junior Kennedy Brown tries to get the handle on a loose ball during Thursday's Class 6A state tournament game with Sheldon.But it was a fired-up Sheldon team that took the floor for the third quarter. The Irish opened the period with a 7-0 run, which included four straight points by junior Aly Mirabile, giving Sheldon its first lead of the game, at 24-21, with 3:10 left in the quarter.

Tigard quickly tied the game on a 3-pointer by Brown, but Sheldon would go on to take a 30-28 lead into the fourth quarter.

The Irish would build on that lead in the final stanza. Sheldon would go up 38-31 on a free throw by junior Makayla Scurlock, coming with 1:22 left to play. The outcome looked to be decided at that point, but Tigard had other ideas.

Senior Dani Lyons scored on a layup off a pass from Gray. Then, following a steal by Holdman, Gray was fouled and made both of her free throws, cutting the lead to 38-35 with 1:04 left to play.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School senior Campbell Gray (right) shoots a jumper over Sheldon senior Kami Walk during Thursday's Class 6A state tournament game.PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School senior guard Paige LaFountain brings the ball up court during the Tigers' state tournament game with Sheldon.Tigard was able to get even closer, as two more free throws by Gray made the score 39-37 with 0:46.1 remaining. From there, the Tigers turned to fouling Sheldon, but the Irish was able to come through in the clutch. Sheldon junior Olivia Pierzina twice went 2 for 2 from the line, leaving Sheldon with a 43-39 lead with 0:34.4 left to play.

Tigard trimmed the margin to 43-41 on a layup by senior Paige LaFountain with 0:10 left to play. Tigard fouled Sheldon senior Kami Walk with 7.3 seconds remaining, but she also made both of her free throws. Tigard then missed a last-second shot, leaving the final score at 45-41.

"It was back and forth at the end, with Campbell sinking free throws, and us fouling them," Brown said. "We weren't some of them to make those, but, good for them."

"It was a little too late," Gray said.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard players cheer on their teammates during the Tigers' state tournament game with Sheldon on Thursday.PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School senior Dani Lyons (left) goes to the basket for a layup during the Tigers' state tournament game with Sheldon.Gray had seven rebounds, five steals and four assists to go with her game-high 20 points. Brown added 13 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals. Lyons scored four points. LaFountain had seven rebounds and two points.

Tigard, as a team, made 14 of 41 shots from the field, with one 3-pointer, and 12 of 14 free-throw attempts.

Junior Harley Sowers led a balanced Sheldon scoring attack with nine points. Scurlock, Mirabile and Neuman each added eight for the Irish. Sheldon, as a team, made 11 of 32 shots from the field, with three 3-pointers, and 20 of 30 free-throw attempts.

PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard coaches (from left) Heidi DeHaan, Erica Hansen, Mallory Goldammer, Steve Naylor and Jason Ashley watch the action during Thursday's state tournament playoff game.PMG PHOTO: DAN BROOD - Tigard High School senior Campbell Gray looks to power her way to the basket during the Tigers' state playoff game with Sheldon on Thursday.The winner of Friday's Tigard-Jesuit game will face either South Medford or West Linn in the tournament fourth-place game, which will be played Saturday at 10:30 a.m.


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