ND girls gear up for playoffs

NDHS freshman Brooklyn Williams, perched on an opposing player, picks up a loose ball. Williams’ gritty play and strong defense has earned her a varsity spot in her first year of high school. PHOTO C/O BECKY GERRARD

After earning their sixteenth win in eighteen games this season, now is the perfect time for the North Douglas girls’ basketball team to get a break.

The Warriors (16-2 overall, 6-0 league) defeated visiting Days Creek (8-8, 3-3) on Sat., Jan. 25 by a final score of 49-42, maintaining sole possession of first place in the Skyline league with a half-game cushion over second-place Elkton.

The game, however, was a small letdown for a team that has mostly steamrolled opponents this year, including a much more dominant 17-point victory of the same Days Creek team on Jan. 7 in their first matchup.

“It was a really sloppy game,” said head coach Jody Cyr. “I felt like we were kind of our own worst enemy last night.”

For a team with as much talent as North Douglas, being your own worst enemy is often the only way winnable games are lost and if the team hopes to achieve their ultimate goal — a deep state playoff run — then some refocusing may be in order this week as the team gets five days off in a row from scheduled games.

“We talked about, after the game, when you play potentially 30 games in a year, you’re gonna have some down nights,” Cyr said.

“My point is that there should never be a night where we’re missing rotations on defense or we’re not stopping the ball. Those are things you can do every single night and that focus wasn’t there. That’s the challenge about coaching a varsity basketball team, maintaining that focus and peaking while others are flatlining. It’s a difficult task.”

Nonetheless, after dropping only their second game of the season last Thursday to 2A #1-ranked Gervais, the Warriors never trailed in their game versus Days Creek, despite a tighter final margin than Cyr would have liked.

“We had several chances to put the game away, had their best player in foul trouble a couple times,” Cyr added. “We made a lot of poor passes, missed a lot of easy shots. And you don’t get to do that against better teams.”

North Douglas won the game, as is typical for this squad, with defensive effort and a balanced scoring attack. Seniors Nicki Derrick (11 points), Sofia Alcantar (eight points), Natalie Draeger (five points) and Rilie-Jo Olds (six points) all contributed while junior Natalie Thompson added seven points of her own. The Warriors were able to hold Days Creek scoring threat Moriah Michaels to just 11 points, but it was a strategy that ultimately may have worked against them.

“The biggest difference between the first [Days Creek] game and last night was the first game was all Michaels,” Cyr said. “We shut down everyone else and last night I felt like we did a great job on Michaels and people off the bench killed us, which should never happen.”

The team’s biggest struggles this season have almost entirely come on the offensive end, where their style is still a work in progress. For North Douglas to go deep into the playoffs, they may need more contributions from a talented group of underclassmen who have potential to bring a scoring punch that the team is lacking.

“We sub in freshman and we become a weaker defensive team, but a much better shooting team … and we need those scorers, or at least the ability to stretch defenses,” Cyr acknowledged after the win over Days Creek.

As the season wears on, freshman like Savannah Harkins and Brooklyn Williams are stepping into bigger roles and filling gaps in the Warriors’ rotation where needed.

“[Williams] is tough for a freshman and she comes and goes offensively, but we can really put her in any matchup [defensively] and she does a good job … and [Harkins] is gonna turn into a tremendous scorer in time,” Cyr said.

With only six games remaining, the Warriors are hoping that time is sooner rather than later. If they win the rest of their games, they will take the league title and enter the state playoffs with a 22-2 record and a top-ten 1A ranking, but only time will tell how their talent stacks up against the other state title contenders.

The Warriors have a big upcoming weekend as they take on Yoncalla (12-6, 3-4) at home on Fri., Jan. 31 before traveling to play Elkton (14-4, 6-1) the following day.

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