SILVERTON – Down 37-12 at the half, The Dalles girls basketball team amped up the defensive tenacity and limited Silverton to six second-half field goals by only two different players, but could not get enough shots to fall to log a major threat as they worked a 20-16 second-half run in a season-ending 53-32 loss to the top-ranked Foxes in 5A state sub-round action Friday in Silverton.
“I was just so proud of our team and what we did this year, especially in this game, where it could have been really easy for all of us to give up,” all-league guard Jenna Miller said. “We fought the whole time and that shows who we are and that’s what we have proven to do all season. We lost a lot of good girls last year and just the fact that we were able to fight back and come out here and work our butts off like we did is exciting.”
In the first half, TD’s goal was to pack the paint and get every rebound, but instead Silverton hit eight threes on 8 of 12 from the 3-point line.
Silverton post Truitt Reilly led her squad with 17 points, 10 in the second half, eight in the third period, and the duo of Riley Traeger and Josslyn Ames tacked on 12 points apiece.
TD trailed by as much as 26 points in the second half, but towards the end of the third quarter and the early part of the final quarter missed on seven of eight possessions after making defensive stops, but could not dip into the Foxes’ commanding cushion.
TD’s Kilee Hoylman posted 10 points; Jenna Miller added eight; Gus Decker finished with six; Rainie Codding dropped four and both Pearl Guzman and Lauryn Belanger hit for two points each.
In three seasons, Stevens finishes with a 31-36 overall record and an 11-13 mark in league games with one postseason appearance.
He has seen standouts like Paulina Finn, Jodi Thomasian, Ella Salvatori, Molly Taylor give everything to the program, and now he has seven seniors ready to graduate in three months.
Stevens was emotional after the game, saying that he was going to miss his players.
That’s what they talked about in the locker room after the game, was missing each other and missing everything that went into creating a positive environment that breeds a successful program.
“When I was hired three years ago, I took over a group that weren’t basketball players. This was their third sport at best,” Stevens said. “Those girls, with hard work and some extra time with me, played as hard as they could and got into the playoffs. I couldn’t have asked for anything more than that from a group that wasn’t expected to see this amount of success over what they have had over the last two years. Through everything, they kept their fire and never gave up. That’s what this team has been all about for three years and that’s why I love these girls.”
Hoylman, Codding, Belanger and Miller took on huge chunks of varsity time last season, and Stevens mixed in Decker Pearl Guzman, Grace Schatz and a few others for bigger roles which translated into the programs most overall wins and highest season-ending ranking since 2015-2016.
“This year, we came in with less experience than last year, with a few of us playing more junior varsity, but we knew we had to push harder, work harder and work our way up to the top harder than any of the other teams in the state if we wanted to meet our goals,” Schatz said. “We pushed ourselves in practices and in games and it allowed us to get to the point we are today.”
While several of the varsity players will fragment off into track and other spring activities, Belanger, Hoylman and Schatz want to bring the same culture of positivity, togetherness, motivation and drive that they attained from the basketball program, to the softball diamond.
In a weather-shortened 2018-2019 campaign, the hoops squad finished tied for second place and was denied a postseason berth, but then this past winter, the Hawks won 13 games, placed third in league and punched a playoff berth for the first time since 2016-2017.
On the softball side, the program went 11-39-1 over a tough two-year span, but last year, they won 14 games, placed fourth in league, ended up ranked ninth in the 5A rankings, and were not invited to the playoff dance.
“If we can bring what we achieved together through that environment to softball, I hope it gets us up to at least a third-place spot because finishing ninth in state last year and not to earn a playoff spot, we felt robbed,” Belanger said. “At the same time, it goes to show that we can have a little more grit and really push through because not many people are fighting for what we are fighting for. We are fighting to be respected, we are fighting for what we deserve and we are fighting to have people look at us and say, ‘their girls’ sports are going to push through and they are doing something that the guys can’t. They’re making a name for themselves.’”