SUTHERLIN — Sutherlin’s girls basketball team had to fight to keep its lead, but was able to hold on for a 57-51 win to open Far West League play Tuesday evening.

“I’m super happy to get the win,” Sutherlin coach Josh Grotting said. “We lost three games in a row and it’s the first since Nov. 29 we’ve had all of our kids available and in practice yesterday.”

Sutherlin (7-8, 1-0 FWL) had a 13-point lead in the third quarter. Cascade Christian (5-10, 0-1) fought back to close within one point in the fourth quarter before the Bulldogs regrouped.

“We made it hard,” Grotting said. “I’ve never seen a team work so hard. I was proud of them, everybody kind of figured it out.”

Cascade Christian went on a 10-2 run in the first 4:40 of the fourth quarter to make it a 46-45 game. Emily Stephens was fouled on a shot with 3:20 left in the game and made her free throw to get the three-point play.

Stephens led the Challengers with 18 points and was 6 of 7 from the free-throw line.

Jadyn Vermillion, Paige Bailey and Sierra Nielsen all scored baskets for the Bulldogs, making it 52-45.

Stephens then sank both of her shots from the charity stripe, before Sutherlin got the chance to do the same. For the next minute, the teams would only score from the foul line.

With 50.7 seconds left Sutherlin’s Bailey was fouled and went to the line, but missed both free throws. Between the first and second attempt, Cascade Christian coach Glenn Johannes received a technical foul for arguing the original foul.

Carmen Ganger shot, and made both free throws. Ganger shot 7 for 8 from the foul line and had a game-high 20 points, including three 3-pointers.

“Carmen Ganger did a fantastic job in the second half,” Grotting said.

Bailey was fouled again with 43.7 seconds left and went 1-for-2. Cascade Christian’s Elliana Hagloch sank both her free throws with 32.7 seconds left. Sutherlin then had three opportunities to get points — Vermillion missed her attempt, but Abigail Masterfield made both of hers.

Sutherlin had a 57-49 lead with 11.6 seconds left. Cascade Christian inbounded the ball and Stephens made a layup as time expired.

Vermillion was the second leading scorer for Sutherlin with 14 points, Nielsen added 11 and Bailey contributed nine points, including two 3s.

“Abby Masterfield defensively did a fantastic job,” Grotting said. “And Savannah McHugill came in in the second half and just started battling. In the first half that was not the case and that was frustrating. In the second half she looked like herself and got a lot of rebounds and that helped Carmen (Ganger) get on the board and get some second-chance points, which we usually don’t get very many of.”

Sutherlin was up 27-21 at halftime, but had a tough time controlling the game and finding its stride.

“We’re just young,” Grotting said. “We have kids that play hard some of the time, but we can never get five of them at the same time. We all battle ... we’re smaller than everybody and know that, so it’s got to be effort which was way better in the second half.”

Sutherlin will play at Brookings at 7 p.m. Friday.

CASCADE CHRISTIAN (51) — Emily Stephens 6 6-7 18, Hagloch 2 8-8 12, Willard 3 3-6 9, Ferreira 3 1-3 7, Alexander 1 1-2 3, Quast 1 0-0 2, Joseph 0 0-0 0, Meilicke 0 0-0 0, Sweem 0 0-0 0. Totals 16 19-26 51.

SUTHERLIN (57) — Carmen Ganger 5 7-8 20, Vermillion 6 2-5 14, Nielsen 4 3-3 11, Bailey 3 1-4 9, Masterfield 0 2-2 2, McHugill 0 1-1 1, Carrillo 0 0-0 0. Totals 18 16-23 57.

C. Christian 6 15 14 16 — 51

Sutherlin 12 15 17 13 — 57

3-Point Goals — C.C. 0, Suth. 5 (Ganger 3, Bailey 2). Total Fouls — C.C. 19, Suth. 22. Fouled Out — Meilicke, Hagloch, Ganger. Technical Foul — C.C. coach Johannes.

Sports reporter Sanne Godfrey can be reached at 541-957-4203 or via email at sgodfrey@nrtoday.com. Follow her on Twitter @sannegodfrey

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Sanne Godfrey is a sports reporter for The News-Review.

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