By Jeremy McDonald
FOREST GROVE, Ore.– Yesterday’s game was the first game for the North Marion Lady Huskie Basketball program in the Elite 8 since 2002, and Saturday will bring another first of sorts for the Aurora squad.
Their first trophy game since their third-place win over Philomath (a 59-49 final) in the then-2A State Title Tournament in the Salem Armory during the 1984 season.
Current-Head Coach Trevor Bodine’s was in high school at that time and this writer wasn’t even born yet.
How they got to this point kept the now 40-something year-old Bodine on the edge of his seat as his team held on late thanks, in part, to 10 of 11 shooting from the charity stripe; 7 for 7 from Ally Umbenhower and 3 of 4 from Hannah Kinniburgh during the second half.
“It’s big, it’s huge for the girls,” said Bodine. “It’s awesome that we made it this far, this was huge. We had to make it a little bit interesting, more interesting than I would like but we had a stretch there that we had four of five turnovers in a row, a miss lay-in here and there.
“But they held it together like they’ve had all year. I’m proud of them , we shot 90-percent…90.9 percent in the second half on free throws, which is huge. That’s pressure, this is the State Tournament game, those are pressure free throws and they handled it well.”
How the game started was something fantastic as well.
Emily Scanlan came out on a absolute mission as she scored 10 points, nabbed six rebounds and had four steals as North Marion held a narrow 28-25 lead by the halftime break.
Scanlan would cool off a bit as Umbenhower, Kinniburgh and crew all contributed in the second half as they had a 41-28 lead following a Scanlan three with 3:09 left in the third period.
But, as Bodine eluded to, it’s the State Playoffs and these teams are the cream of the crop; and the Bulldogs showed that as they pulled to within four of the Lady Huskies with 1:41 left in the game.
“It was a little bit intense,” laughed Scanlan. “We seem to give our Head Coach heart attack at times (and) the parents too.”
It was about this time where Kinniburgh and Umbenhower came through in the clutch. Kinniburgh first, then Umbenhower as they built a 48-40 lead and went eight-for-eight in the final 1:21 to seal the victory.
“I think my stomach dropped a little bit but I knew I had my team to back me up,” said Kinniburgh of those last minute free throws.
In an unique twist for the fourth-sixth place game, North Marion will face the team that beat them twice during the regular season in Cascade.
Though it’s cool, Kinniburgh points to the fact that it’ll suck they won’t be able to duke out fourth-place without the Cougars’ Halle Wright who went down with a knee injury Day one of the tournament Thursday night.
“It’s going to be a tough game, it’s going to be exciting,” “Sad that Halle can’t play with her knee and everything, but I really hope that we can play a well, had game because it’s going to be tough. I mean we played conference with them twice so, we know each other’s stuff.”
As for playing in this game though, there is excitement there of course.
“It feels awesome,”said Kinniburgh on the feat. “I’ve never felt this in all my sports, I’ve never done this and it’s been a while since the North Marion girls have done something and I’m glad that we are doing something good.”
“It’s really exciting, it’s a great opportunity for our team because I know my team works really hard and to make it this far since 1985 for the Huskies and this tournament, it’s a really good accomplishment for us,” adds Scanlan.
As for the possible cardiac problems for their head coach versus Cascade, they’ll try to avoid it, but no guarantees!
“We’ll try not too,” smiled Scanlan.
HUSKIE SCORERS-Scanlan-15. Umbenhower-13. Kinniburgh-13. Verastegui-9. Wing-2.
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Photos By Jeremy McDonald