SUTHERLIN — North Douglas is one of the top girls basketball teams in Class 1A, but the Warriors were no match for Sutherlin Wednesday night.
The Bulldogs, three-time defending 4A champions, opened their season with a 57-33 victory at the Dog Pound in the first round of the Bill Spelgatti Invitational.
Senior guard Taylor Stricklin scored 23 points for Sutherlin, which won its 59th consecutive home game dating back to 2011. The Bulldogs were 27-1 overall last year, capped off by a 45-40 win over Cascade in the state championship game.
“I thought we did really well for our first game,” said Stricklin, who had 14 points in the first half as the Bulldogs took a 15-point advantage. “Obviously we still have some kinks to work out, but we did a lot better than I expected. We’re a lot faster this year and have a little more intensity on defense. We were fine last year, but we’re a little quicker and more athletic.”
Freshman guard Kiersten Haines, who was playing at Roseburg’s Joseph Lane Middle School last season, hit three 3-point field goals and finished with 15 points in her debut for Sutherlin. Junior guard Harlee Baker added 12 points.
A 3-pointer by reserve Megan Carrillo gave the Bulldogs their biggest lead of the game at 52-24 early in the fourth quarter.
“I’m actually pretty happy,” said Sutherlin coach Josh Grotting. “Defensively, the front of our defense did a really good job. The back end we need to clean up, but we had some freshmen come in and give us a lot of minutes.”
Sutherlin’s defensive pressure rattled the Warriors early, resulting in a 19-7 lead after one quarter.
“I think it started with (junior guard) Kiersten Porter,” Grotting said. “She played JV the last two years, but has been the quickest kid in the program. She set the tone early on and kind of sparked us.”
Stricklin, Baker and Eliza Sorenson are returning starters off last year’s title team. Haines will give the Bulldogs added punch on the offensive end.
“She definitely gives us another scoring option,” Stricklin said. “She’s coming off an injury. When she gets back in the flow of things she’ll be a major player for us.”
“She’s not real strong on defense right now, but she’s going to get there,” Grotting said. “She’s getting ultra competitive in practice and it showed in her play tonight. She did a really good job as the game wore on.”
Senior guard Kalli Frieze had 10 points for North Douglas. Sophomore Abby Whipple chipped in eight points.
“It was good for us to get some good competition,” said North Douglas assistant coach Terry Hescock. “We looked at it as a really good practice. If we can come out and improve and work hard, that was our goal and I think we did it. I’m proud of the girls.
“They’re Sutherlin, and they’re deep. They just keep coming at you. That’s a good team, and that’s what we needed to see.”
Frieze, Sabrina MacDowell, Jhana Lane and Riley Black are returning starters for the Warriors, who lost 54-37 to Country Christian in last season’s 1A title game. North Douglas finished 26-5 overall.
“I like our senior leadership,” Hescock said. “We’re strong there with (Frieze, MacDowell, Lane and Rachel Colburn). We’ve got a good complement of young girls who are developing real quick and that’s going to be fun to see.”
Sutherlin will meet 3A Lakeview at 7 p.m. Friday, while North Douglas will play 5A Woodburn at 1.
NORTH DOUGLAS (33) — Kalli Frieze 10, R. Black 2, P. Black, Colburn 2, Derrick 1, Downie, Olds 2, Whipple 8, Dooley, MacDowell 4, Lane 4. Totals 12 7-17 33.
SUTHERLIN (57) — Taylor Stricklin 23, Haines 15, Baker 12, Porter 4, Sorenson, Riley, Masterfield, Dancer, Gurule, Harwood, Moser, Carrillo 3, Aiken, Jarman, Carpine. Totals 23 4-5 57.
N. Douglas 7 11 4 11— 33
Sutherlin 19 14 16 8 — 57
3-Point Field Goals — N.D. 2 (Frieze 2), Suth. 7 (Haines 3, Stricklin 2, Baker 1, Carrillo 1). Fouls — N.D. 10, Suth. 19.
Sports Editor Tom Eggers can be reached at 541-957-4220 or email firstname.lastname@example.org