Lady Titans head to the big dance
West Salem girls advance to Portland for the first time ever after road win at Grants Pass
There has always been something keeping the West Salem Titans girls from making it to the Elite 8 of the 6A state basketball tournament in Portland.
Sometimes the barrier was playing poorly at home. Other times, it was a matter of playing the top seed in the tourney to qualify—think Oregon City.
Last year, West lost their first-round contest at home by two points to Grants Pass. So when the tenth-rated Titans drew a second round road game at GP on Friday night, it seemed like a little revenge could come into play for coach Katie Singleton’s squad.
West fell behind by as many as seven points in the first half to the #7 Lady Cavers, but had a one-point lead (26-25) at the half.
The Titans took control in the second half, and thanks to their three all-Central Valley Conference first team players. Maintained a steady lead for the last 16 minutes of the contest, holding on for a 45-41 victory—and their first-ever tournament berth in Portland at the University of Portland’s Chiles Center.
The two teams played it even in the first quarter, ending the period tied at 12.
After Grants Pass had briefly taken a seven- point lead, West Salem quickly brought the score even again, and when the back-and-forth second quarter was over, the Titans had a 26-25 advantage. Freshman Emma Zuniga had eight points, and senior co-player of the year Lizzy Bennett had seven at intermission for the Titans.
In the third quarter, West used defensive pressure to outscore the Lady Cavers 11-5 in the period and take a 37-30 lead heading to the final eight minutes of the game.
For most of the last quarter, the Titans kept their advantage at around eight to ten points, before the home team chipped away in the last four minutes, finally cutting the lead to 45-39 with thirty seconds left. Grants Pass could only manage a pair of free throws by leading scorer Brooke Anderson in that time frame. Anderson finished with 20 points for the home team, which wrapped up its season with record of 17-8.
West Salem’s leading scorer on the season—senior Lizzy Bennett—finished with a game high 15 points for West. Freshman all-leaguer Emma Zuniga added 12 points, and senior Mady Diaz contributed eight points for Titans, who improved to 21-5 on the year.
Singleton was impressed with the focus her squad had after a long trip to Southern Oregon.
“The girls played really hard,” said the coach. “They were ready to go and took care of business.”
“It was fun to watch them.”
West will face #2 seeded South Medford at the Chiles Center on Wednesday, March 8th, at 8:15 pm. The Panthers advanced with a 75-39 victory over McMinnville on Friday.