On the back end of four grueling games in four days, The Dalles girls basketball team were defeated 64-36 by 6A Barlow to finish 2-2 overall and in sixth place out of 16 teams at the Nike Interstate Shootout, which ended Monday in Lake Oswego.
“This past weekend, I saw my team come together and battle through one of the toughest tournaments any of us have been in,” TD senior post Lauryn Belanger said. “For us to go 2-2 against some tough, top teams in the state and battle for third place on our last day is something none of us could have imagined, but all of us fought for.”
Added to the flu ravaging a majority of the roster, perennial all-league point guard Kilee Hoylman twisted her ankle at the start of the second quarter and had to exit the game, and senior leaders, Belanger and Jenna Miller fouled out later in the second half.
“The girls played as hard as they could, but they were much too tired and fatigued from this upper respiratory congestion that plagued our team,” TD head coach Brian Stevens said. “I am really proud of their effort and mental fortitude.”
Rainie Codding, who was named as the Player of the Game by the tournament director, scored a team-leading 10 points, Miller finished with eight, and Mercy I’aulualo added seven points.
Belanger and Pearl Guzman notched four points each, Grace Schatz had two points and Hoylman ended up with one point.
Even when Hoylman exited action early on, Stevens lauded his veteran standouts for their ability to rally the troops in the face of adversity.
“When Kilee went out with an injury, Jenna Miller took over the leadership role on offense and defense, even while playing with four fouls in the second half. She set the tone in breaking the full-court press and attacking the rim, make or miss. She gave her teammates offensive rebound putback opportunities,” Stevens said. “Lauryn did a good job of keeping us spaced on offense and getting us set up.”
While the Riverhawks have three non-league games still remaining, Belanger added that tournament experience will go a long way towards building camaraderie and toughness ahead of league play, which starts on Jan. 17.
Many of those unsung heroes are an inspiration to the program.
“To see my team sacrifice their bodies and mentally push through all these roadblocks of sickness and ankle injuries is something I expect nothing less of with them,” Belanger said. “We fought hard. We showed everyone who TD was. And, from this tournament, we now know that we are fully capable of competing to be a top team in league. We are capable of great things, and now, I think we all understand that.”
The Dalles (5-5 overall), now ranked 15th in the 5A classification, has canceled Friday’s home tilt versus Milwaukie due to illness, but will host the 6A classification’s No. 9 squad, Tualatin (5-1) at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 7, and then travels to No. 19 St. Helens (4-1) at 7 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10.