TRI CITY — For a program that won only four Far West League games the past five seasons, Friday’s 42-34 victory over North Bend was a significant step for the South Umpqua girls basketball team.
The Lancers scored the first 14 points of the game, hiked their lead to 20 in the third quarter and then had to fend off a late rally by the Bulldogs to win the FWL opener in the S.U. gym.
“It’s our first league win other than Siuslaw since I’ve been here, so I feel pretty good,” said South Umpqua junior guard Aaliyah Rudy, who finished with 10 points and five assists. “I felt like we should’ve won by 20. We could’ve come out stronger in the second half and held our lead, but we played pretty good.”
South Umpqua, which has already surpassed last year’s season win total (five), evened its overall record at 7-7. And the Lancers, for at least one game, are tied for first place in the Far West.
“It’s been a tough battle since a couple of years ago when we had to switch coaches, but we’ve been working really hard every single practice,” said senior post Daisy Brown, who led the Lancers with 12 points before fouling out. “I think our hard work is starting to pay off and I’m really proud of my team.”
The Lancers, who led 20-10 at halftime, opened the third quarter with 10 straight points and appeared headed for an easy win. Brown had a pair of baskets, Shalyn Gray hit a pair of free throws, Rudy scored inside and Tayah Kelley converted a layup off a turnover during the spurt.
But the Bulldogs (4-10, 0-1 FWL) countered with 11 unanswered points to hang around. They sliced a 20-point deficit to five after Makoa Matthews made two free throws to make it 35-30 with 1:17 left in the contest.
South Umpqua knocked down seven of 12 free throws from there to seal the deal. The Lancers finished 10 of 16 from the charity stripe overall in the fourth period.
“Rebounding. That’s about it,” Rudy replied, when asked what got North Bend back in the game. “Second opportunities. I think we got a little lazy in the second half.”
“It was definitely our fouls,” Brown added. “I think we got down a little bit (during their comeback), but I’m glad we picked it back up.”
Kelley had eight points and 11 rebounds in the contest. Freshman guard Jadyn Vermillion chipped in six points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Gray contributed six points.
“We’re very excited to get the first win of league,” said South Umpqua coach Keri Vermillion. “We came out really strong, especially considering we’re trying to find an identity without Megan (Kinney) on the court and trying some new things offensively. The girls did a good job of playing a more consistent game. We still had our dips and valleys, but they didn’t last the entire quarter.”
Kinney, a senior post, missed the game with a knee injury.
Haley Edwards was North Bend’s top scorer with nine points.
The Lancers’ trapping zone defense bothered the Bulldogs, triggering a 14-0 lead in the first quarter.
“(Our plan) was go to a 1-2-2 full-court press, then go into a half-court 1-2-2 and get on them,” Brown said. “It worked really well for us.”
The Lancers resume league play at Douglas (7-7, 0-1) Tuesday.
NORTH BEND (34) — Haley Edwards 9, Lillebo 1, Markel 4, Matthews 7, Proett 2, Snelgrove 6, Lincoln, Cunningham 5, Mahr. Totals 12 9-24 34.
SOUTH UMPQUA (42) — Daisy Brown 12, McCall, Lind, Vermillion 6, Gray 6, Kelley 8, Rudy 10, Griffin. Totals 14 14-24 42.
North Bend 0 10 6 18 — 34
S. Umpqua 10 10 10 12 — 42
3-Point Goals — N.B. 1 (Matthews), S.U. 0. Total Fouls — N.B. 18, S.U. 19. Fouled Out — Proett, Brown.