By Jeremy McDonald
INDEPENDENCE, Ore.– The Jefferson Girls Basketball team edged Taft to lock-up the third and final Automatic Qualifier out of the PacWest Conference following their 37-31 win over the Tigers. Marking just the second time since 1993 and second time since 2018 that the Lions have qualified for the State Tournament.
Led by PacWest first-teamer Gretchen Orton and her 12 points, working the driving lanes for the buckets Jefferson achieved the goal of reaching the State Playoffs once more. For their seniors, there’s excitement and perhaps nerves knowing of what had happened.
“It’ll be exciting. It’s the first time I’ve made it to playoffs in anything was softball last year and it was such a rush. To do it in basketball this year, basketball has never been my biggest sport and I just found a whole new love for it this year because of how close our team is,” Jayden O’Neil said. “I don’t know, it’s going to be crazy going to State Playoffs. I’ve never done it in basketball, it’s so awesome and to be a part of something like that is really, really amazing.”
For Gwyn Orton, it holds a special place for her knowing that she’ll get to share it with her sister in Gretchen.
“I love it. I love playing with Gretchen and being able to go to State with her, play all these games with her. Having us go to State is awesome, last year we wanted to but got the tail-end of it. I’m really happy we get to go,” the older Orton said. “We just need to be more focused going into games, but it was a good game (Saturday), it was a close game.”
Bella Kunkel contributed nine points, Amira Saad scored six. Gwyn Orton scored two, O’Neil scored four that included an reverse lay-in from the senior.
Photos By Jeremy McDonald