Warriors set for final stretch

Freshman Brooklyn Williams (20), seen here matched up with Elkton’s Alexis Halstead stepped up big in crunch time for the Warriors, hitting a bevy of free throws that helped NDHS get the win. PHOTO C/O BECKY GERRARD

Last weekend, the North Douglas girls’ basketball team may have done just about all they needed to wrap up the Skyline league.

After handily beating Yoncalla on Fri., Jan. 31 67-23, the Warriors (18-2, 8-0) took down their Highway 38 rivals, Elkton (15-5, 7-2), the very next night by a final of 39-33. It was the Warriors’ second win over Elkton this year, their seventh victory in their last eight games, and gave them a two-game cushion atop the Skyline standings with just three league games remaining.

“I talk a lot about faceless opponents,” said North Douglas head coach Jody Cyr about looking forward to districts and state playoffs. “If we can do what we want to do, it doesn’t really matter who we play, so really just gotta stick to what we know and get better at that.”

As evidenced by the final score — a much tighter margin than the two teams’ initial Jan. 18 meeting in which North Douglas won 54-39 — the Warriors couldn’t always do what they wanted in this one.

The Warriors are a team defined by their defensive identity, a full-court intensity that seems to never let up for the full 32 minutes, but Elkton is a team that can counter it with pressure of their own.

“They’re dangerous,” Cyr said of the Elks. Elkton coach Rob Parker and his team of experienced players proved that true, as they fell in an early 11-0 hole, but battled out of it, in part, by getting the Warriors into foul trouble.

“A lot of it really depends on who gets in foul trouble and where that foul trouble comes from,” Cyr said. “It’s kind of interesting as the game goes on how the matchups unfold because we can exploit some things and they can exploit some things.”

Warriors’ post player Rilie-Jo Olds, for example, got some early whistles called against her and it forced North Douglas — a team already lacking in vertical size — to go small for most of the rest of the game.

North Douglas, however, stepped up to the pressure and was able to finish a close game in a season where they haven’t had many. Freshmen Brooklyn Williams and Savannah Harkins went 7 for 8 from the free throw line in the final three minutes to wrap up the win and Williams ended the game as the Warriors’ leading scorer with 13.

The Elks were led by junior Margaret Byle and senior Alexis Halstead, who had 11 and 10 points respectively.

Both area teams find themselves in good position with the playoffs looming, as the two teams hold on to one of the coveted top-three spots in the Skyline, earning them a chance to compete for a place in the state tournament. The Warriors in particular are just three league wins away from completing an undefeated Skyline season.

The Warriors next play on Fri., Feb. 7 at home against second-place Pacific/Powers (14-7, 8-2) while the Elks travel to Riddle (6-13, 4-6) on the same night. Both games begin at 6 p.m.

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